Movie Recap: Horrors of Spider Island

Posted: October 19, 2013 by necromommycon in movie recaps, movie reviews, stuff we were bewildered by
Tags: , , , ,

Since spiders are something that a lot of people are phobic about (not that anything resembling a spider appears in this movie, but we’ll get to that), I’m going to put up the American non-spider poster above the cut, and am also including a clip of the most memorable two minutes of the film above the cut. So even if you want to avoid spiders, you can safely look at anything above the fold.

Horrors of Sexist Island

Horrors of Sexist Island

  • Script quality: 4/10, but maybe it’s better in the original Klingon. The “it’s a hammer” speech is pure gold, though.

  • Acting quality: 4/10. Gets the job done, especially when the job is “stripping and catfighting.”
  • Overall feeling afterwards: I don’t even know. Maybe there’s a German word to sum up the feeling you get from watching muppet-spiders and women in their underwear, but no English word seems adequate.

Now go watch this. I’ll wait.

WARNING: Spiders ahead. Get out while you still can.

I’m just going to flat-out quote the wikipedia summary at you first, so you can brace yourselves going in:

Horrors of Spider Island (German: Ein Toter hing im Netz, “A Dead One Hung in the Web”) is a 1960 West German horror film directed by Fritz Böttger. The film stars Alexander D’Arcy as Gary the talent agent who invites several girls to a club in Singapore. Their plane ride ends abruptly when they crash-land into the ocean. D’Arcy and the girls make their way to an island where they find a larger spider-web-and. A giant spider sinks its teeth in D’Arcy which turns him into a werewolf.

That right there tells you almost everything you need to know. It NEVER makes any more sense than this.

The one thing that wiki summary leaves out, though, is the stunning commentary on sex roles that’s embedded in the cells of this film, kind of the way ice shards embed themselves in the cells of frozen meat, only causing rage instead of freezer burn.

spider poster

I like the other poster better.

We open with swing music and a California freeway, then cut to a group of pretty women waiting in an office. They’re talking about Singapore. One is reading from a guidebook.

One takes a No Smoking sign off the wall and sits on it before lighting up. Ha.

A jerk in a suit breezes past them into an inner office. It turns out he’s picking women to form a dance troupe which he’ll…take to Singapore? I’m not sure I follow the logic here. He has framed pin-ups on his office wall. This is a man who takes T&A seriously.

spider casting call

He checks out the women as they “audition,” which mostly consists of lifting their skirts so he can see their legs, though one strips and one does ballet. The ballet one doesn’t get hired, but as an early sign of this movie’s fondness for “good girls,” the agent-person who brought these women in for Suit Guy assures her he has another audition for her. (The stripper gets hired. Naturally.)

Check out her...uh, dancing ability.

Check out her…uh, dancing ability.

Suit Guy is named Gary. He looks like a Gary.

He has a female assistant who does a lot of the talking, which frees Gary up to do the leering, I guess. Her name is Georgia, but I don’t actually work that out until halfway through the movie.

Next we have a couple of minutes of plane footage. I imagine fewer people had been on planes in 1960, so viewers weren’t as rigidly bored by this as I am. At least I hope so, for their sake. Then the plane catches on fire and crashes and, see? I have never crashed into the ocean, so I didn’t find that bit boring at all!

Gary, Georgia, and the dance troupe have survived for four days in a rubber raft. Gary SLAPS one of the women for stealing an extra glug of water. I am usually anti-slapping, but SHE STOLE WATER. Eat her first, that’s my advice. Sadly I have not yet differentiated any of the women except Georgia (the assistant) and the stripper (who turns out to be called Linda, not a particularly stripper-ish name).

They spot an island, and paddle ashore — happily, because they don’t know they’re in a horror movie. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to work out what genre my life is.)

Gary helps the women ashore. He CARRIES one or two of them ashore. How come they’re too weak to walk, and he can carry people? You know what: I bet he’s been stealing water.

The women are all just LYING there on the beach where he sets them down. It’s creepy. He explores a little, and they…just lie there. Is this a metaphor for something?

Gary finds a little waterfall, takes his shirt off, and showers. Then he calls “Water! Water!” and the women stagger over to drink. It’s all vaguely perverse.

“Okay, girls, that’s enough! Let’s go and have a look around,” he says, because women can’t be trusted to decide for themselves when they’ve had enough water.

spider women

He and the eight women (hey, spider symbolism!) find “a hammer, with a long handle; it must be used for extracting metal, most probably uranium,” which…HOW THE HELL DID HE REACH THAT CONCLUSION? Although I suppose the uranium is the explanation for the mutant “spiders.”

"It was last used by a left-handed man in a tweed suit."

“It was last used by a left-handed man in a tweed suit.”

The women chatter constantly, a steady low murmur the entire time they’re walking. It’s hilarious. Also annoying as all get-out. I think whoever made this movie has women confused with cows.

They find a cabin (“Girls! Look! It’s a cabin!”). Inside, there’s a dead guy strung up in a big spider web.

Just hanging out. You?

Just hanging out. You?

The women scream and run, except Georgia, who (since she is Almost As Good As A Man) takes on Gary’s role of stating the blindingly obvious (“It’s a dead man in web, a giant web!”) before saying “Oh, Gary” and collapsing on his shoulder. It occurs to me that I have never done that—said “Oh, Whoever” and swooned into someone’s arms. I should totally try this, yes? And I’ll stick to “Oh, Gary,” even though I don’t know anyone named that.

ANYWAY. A big spider is watching them from the underbrush.

Gary and Georgia find Professor Green’s diary, which confirms uranium deposits (you guys, Gary is a genius in the hammer department) and warns of a hissing sound and a sense of impending doom.

Special effects are not really a thing in this film.

Special effects are not really a thing in this film.

Georgia (under Gary’s close supervision, of course) divides up the rations the cabin is stocked with, while Gary makes plans to light a smoke signal. Meanwhile two blonde women squabble over a shirt. Gary TAKES THE SHIRT AWAY and gives it to Georgia. I am in tears of laughter and nausea. “Now stop it or I’ll take care of both of you!” is, for the record, the creepiest vague threat I’ve ever heard. This movie BADLY wants to be a softcore porno, and is only reluctantly doing the monster scenes. To prove my point, one of the women takes her shirt off.

“C’mon. Come on girls, let’s go to sleep,” Gary says, clapping his hands the way people do to get a puppy’s attention. I don’t know which is worse, Gary’s control-freak-ism or the fact that these characters genuinely are too stupid to do things like drink and sleep unassisted.

Now there’s a poorly lit shower scene with burlesque music.

Gary is going for a walk, presumably to get away from the women writhing around in their underwear. I’m not kidding: they’re going to bed in their underwear, which involves a lot of wriggling around. The burlesque music is still playing.

One of the women (the stripper one; at this point I had no idea what her name is, or if she has one) clutches his leg and moans his name as he stands on the porch, then kisses him at the exact moment Georgia walks out. He blames “the damned heat” and leaves. Georgia smacks the face off the other woman.

Gary’s running through the woods in a thunderstorm, shirtless. Suddenly someone remembers this is a horror movie. A big spider-puppet bites him, unconvincingly. You would have to be really, really phobic to find this scary. Phobic of muppets, not spiders.

Then Gary turns into a werewolf. Did I…skip to another movie or something? No, there are the same damned women in the same damned cabin, having hysterics as the world’s most impressive storm rages around them.

spider werewolf

The next morning the women split up and go looking for Gary, who is still a very ugly werewolf with three teeth. The stripper who kissed him (now there’s a romance novel title waiting to happen: The Stripper Who Kissed Him) stays behind at the cabin, because she’s too lazy to search. That’s okay: HE finds HER. And chokes her. There’s a disturbing shot of her, dead at the bottom of a pool.

One of the women (Ann) has absolute hysterics that evening about Linda (which is how I find out the stripper was named Linda). The others squabble about whether they’ll be rescued. Georgia attempts to break it up, but two blondes (Babs and Nellie) get into an actual belt-slapping catfight. It’s like one of those “women in prison” movies.

Clawed hands reach into the cabin and grab Georgia from behind and she screams and faints, effectively breaking up the fight. Gary lopes off down the path.

The next day two of the women try, and fail, to flag down a ship. One of them says they’ve been there for 28 days now. I guess we skipped some catfights. They have enough food left for three days, one helpfully exposits. I feel like I’ve been watching the movie for at least that long.

But wait! Two MEN come ashore in a little boat, joking that they should have taken a woman along as part of their rations. Oh joy, everyone’s going to be rescued by sexists.

They’re bringing supplies for the professor. One of them leaves and the other starts drinking while he unloads the boat. He spits out his whiskey when he hears women giggling, and follows the sound to find four of them swimming. Nude.

One of the women (Gladys, it turns out) screams and…drowns? Gets dragged under water? Something. There’s splashing and screaming, that’s all I can swear to.

Georgia and two other women find Gary’s gun, bracelet, and a big dead spider. Ha.

One of the men is making out with someone. Oh, I get it: the girl in the water was grabbed by the whiskey-drinking delivery guy! He pulled her underwater and now she’s kissing him.

The other guy (Joe) gets captured at gunpoint by the women. Well, mostly by Georgia, the only one who knows how to point a gun.

Eventually everyone’s back at the cabin, where Georgia breaks the news of the professor’s death. The guys have good news: the ship they rowed out from will be back in two days.

spider guys

So the women decide to throw a party. “The boys will be surprised when they see how we’ve dressed ourselves up in our island costumes.” Oh, honey. I don’t think surprised is an adequate word for how they’ll feel at the sight of you all in flower-and-feather bedecked underwear.

This is...a horror movie about spiders?

This is…a horror movie about spiders?

There’s a dance scene. Naturally. For the record: men, going shirtless but tying a handkerchief around your neck looks ridiculous even in a scene where other people are wearing flowers and underwear.

Bobby and Gladys (that’d be the girl who got nearly-drowned and the guy who nearly drowned her; they’re an item now) agree to meet at the lagoon in fifteen minutes.

Joe and Ann flirt awkwardly. He gives her his handkerchief, and it looks marginally less stupid on her.

Bobby is filling in the time to his assignation by kissing one…no, wait, three other women. I think. Gladys sees him making out with one of them and storms off.

Joe and Bobby fight about whether dancers are nothing more than “hot goods for a cold night,” then burst into laughter mid-fistfight. Bobby dashes off to the lagoon to meet Gladys, who isn’t there, having grown a backbone (a backbone of hate) and sworn off his cheating ass. Wasn’t this movie supposed to be about SPIDERS? I am dying of boredom.

Then Ann tells Gladys that Joe told her that Bobby thinks Gladys is the kind of girl he’s always been waiting for. It’s like being trapped in first grade with people too stupid to write their own “circle yes or no” notes. Also I think Bobby’s definition of “waiting for” is different than mine, since he couldn’t go FIFTEEN MINUTES without macking on three other women.

Meanwhile, at the lagoon, Bobby is dead from spider.

Gladys finds his corpse, and then screams loudly at the sight of a clawed hand. I only just realized: GARY IS MEANT TO HAVE TURNED INTO A SPIDER, NOT A WEREWOLF. I think. To be honest he doesn’t look like either.

He chases Gladys up a cliff and she falls off and dies. Jeez, you guys: you only had to survive TWO DAYS until the ship gets back.

Joe finds Bobby’s corpse and pets it. Gary shows up and tries to kill Joe with big rocks, but Joe gets away and goes back to the cabin for the gun. Gary breaks in and almost attacks Georgia, but she says his name and he looks ashamed and backs away. See, even though he’s a horrible monster, she has the power of being Almost As Good As A Man.

He and Joe fight some more until Georgia drives him away with a…firecracker? Flare? Slow-burning dynamite? I’ve given up trying to make sense of this.

Armed with…firecrackers? Really big sparklers? I still don’t know—everyone goes hunting Gary. That seems mean. Can’t they just stay in the cabin for one more day? They all chase him until he runs into some quicksand and sinks. Georgia is distraught.

Then there’s a final scene of the ship sailing away, presumably with the survivors. Yay? That was an unexpectedly depressing ending.

  1. Dying of lulz. Damn you for making me cough again. 😀

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