Gary (Alexander D’Arcy) is taking a group of dancers to exotic Singapore (or maybe it’s exotic dancers to Singapore… anyway) for a tour. Along the way the plane goes down somewhere in the Pacific. Gary and the girls are able to find a deserted island and explore it. It appears that an expedition was left on the island, but was attacked by a huge spider (the giant web gave it away). Seeing no sign of the spider Gary and girls enjoy their time – until Gary disappears. Now the girls have to fend for themselves and hope help arrives. Will the confident Georgia (Helga Frank) be able to keep buxom Babs (Barbara Valentin) and the other girls away from the “Horrors of Spider Island”?
Girls in bikinis trapped on an island and being chased around by a mutated guy. Sounds like it might have some good points. Um, yeah, if the people behind the camera knew what they were doing. Sorry to say that the “Horrors of Spider Island” or “Body in the Web” as it is known in German, has more to do with inept film making than a scary monster.
Let’s start with the basics, you know, the plot. This movie’s goal to was to show girls in bikinis and have them get attacked by a monster. So I wasn’t expecting Shakespeare (we already had that episode). But the story here is so paper-thin, with all kinds of odd moments in it that it seems tailor made for MST3K. It looks like some thought was given to actually get Gary and the girls into the plane. But after that, the movie devolves into the girls wandering around, looking pouty and being almost attacked by the silly looking mutated Gary. Even the injection of the returning expedition members, Bobby (Rainer Brandt) and Joe (Harald Maresch) does little to make the movie any more interesting. Mostly this is because the characters are so thin that you don’t care what happens to any of them. Part of this is the writing, but it also falls on the acting.
This movie was made by a German cast, and that means what we get is a dubbed mess. You’ve got some seriously bad voice acting in this movie. With Gary getting the super masculine deep voice, and all the girls being dubbed by what sounds like three women. All these women were directed to coo, and pout and sound like they are all one some kind of depressants. Some distinctions are made in the voice work – Babs sounds about as tough as she looks, but for the most part its really poor work.
As for the physical part of the acting, well it’s about what you’d expect. The girls are good at showing off their assets. Gary is good at looking beefy and masculine. Even the two researchers are good at being annoying and jerky. So really I guess they all fit the parts, but there is silliness to the performances. Or maybe it’s the fact that they all know they are in a movie called “Horrors of Spider Island”, I don’t know, but the cheesiness goes from the script right into the acting.
If you’re looking for hot girls and studly guys, well you might find something to like. The guys are uniformly beefy and lumpy. Most of them end up with their shirts off at some point, but it doesn’t help matters. And for those of you who like watching guys punch each other – well there are a couple fight scenes between the dorky Joe and Bobby and then between Joe and mutated Gary (who still has his shirt off in mutated form – but retains his slacks).
As for the ladies they are all pretty or sexy in an early 60’s European kind of way. Some of them will have more appeal than others, only because they get a little more screen time. Georgia is the smart one who takes command. Then there’s the sweet Ann who falls for Bob. And of course there’s Babs, the Amazon of the group. Tall, blonde and built like a linebacker, Babs intimidates all the girls and even stands up to Gary. Of course the filmmakers spend lots of time showing us Babs, and one of the movies key scenes involves Babs wrestling one of the other girls. Yeah – it’s a key scene for this film, which doesn’t say much. Oddly Babs and Gary remind of a low budget beefy German version of Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni from “La Dolce Vida” which was made the same year! Coincidence? I think not!
So what about the horrors and the monsters and such? Well our titular spider is really a goofy looking puppet that hides in a tree most of the movie. This thing would make Roger Corman blush – maybe. Its big scene is when it attacks Gary, but it takes so long to get to the scene, that you begin to wonder if Gary’s shirtless chest is the horror of Spider Island. Anyway, after Gary gets bitten, he gets a furry face, funny looking teeth and a clawed hand. He looks nothing like a spider, more like a were-wombat or something. The rest of the movie Gary will move his hand threateningly toward one of the girls and then hide. When he finally kills someone he does so by waving his arms until they fall off a cliff. The other “special” effect is the huge spider web that our castaways find at the beginning of the movie. It’s very fake looking. The poor dope playing the professor caught in the web like he’s doing jumping jacks, or was caught in the air during a fabulous dance montage moment. Mike and the bots have a field day with this in a host segment.
When it comes down to it, “Horrors of Spider Island” was made for the guys. It’s got girls in bikinis, and lots of jumping and running and wrestling. It’s also got a really misogynistic feel to the dialogue as well as the whole tone. Certainly this is nothing new for a bad B film, but I’m just warning you. Don’t expect any respect for any of the girls in this movie. That’s funny because I get the feeling that Babs could kick the ass of any of the guys in this movie. If anyone demands respect – it’s Babs… well maybe not in that flowery bikini.
It was just a joke Babs. No seriously put down that chair! NOOOoooooo!
In many ways this reminds me of a classic Mike episode from season six. The movie is black and white, it’s got that early 60’s feel to it. It’s even got enough women in bikini’s to rival Mike’s first episode “The Brain that Wouldn’t Die”. You’ve got the beefy guys and cooing girls. Sure lots of the movie spent with characters wandering around or writhing around but that should be easy to work with. This should be a great episode.
Yeah, you saw the “but” coming didn’t you.
But, this isn’t a great episode. It’s really lacking in a lot of areas and the big one is energy. There is a real lethargy in the riffing, and long stretches without much of a comment. When they do come they aren’t anything really memorable. In fact when I remember this episode, I remember the movie itself more than the actual riffing. Gary’s little leg crossing bit, or Babs, or Gary as a spider in slacks, or Babs, or the crash sequence, or Babs. But when it comes to specific riffing, I don’t remember much at all.
Upon rewatching it, some of the funnier moments that stand out deal with the trashiest dancer, who’s name eludes me. In one scene, as she wanders out to her death, throws open her arms and one of the bots quips, “Look at my good stuff nature!” She also spends one scene writhing all over Gary and the bots add all kinds of sleazy lines to the dialogue. And speaking of Gary, he’s a good source of comedy. From his opening moments with his auditions, to his final moments as a crazed hairy not-spidery-at-all monster – Gary provides laughs. His booming voice is easily imitated by Tom and he makes the already misogynistic dialogue worse. And of course there’s big ol’ Babs, who’s brute force and [cough cough] charms makes her a focal point for riffing. Her scenes on the island and during the wrestling sequence are pretty funny by themselves. But Mike and the bots add some more humor, with Tom fainting whenever she’s getting really provocative. Babs is just too much woman for him!
The host segments are have some good moments. Things start off with Mike discovering that Crow has a syndicated opinion column in many newspapers in the US. Crow has a lot to say about not too much at all. Then Mike checks on the Pearl in Castle Forrester and finds out that the castle is gone! Pearl moved so she wouldn’t have to pay so much for Bobo’s monkey license. But the move has made everyone crabby and so Pearl inflicts “Horrors of Spider Island” on Mike and bots because she’s so cranky. At the first break, Mike is caught in a giant web. The bots tease him and enjoy the bounty of giant insects they’ve caught with it. At the next break, Mike and the bots hold auditions just like Gary in the movie. Pearl, Observer and Bobo all try out. This is probably the funniest of the bunch. Next up, the bots want to know that if you survive a plane crash do you become all helpless and whispery like the dancers in the movie. They test the theory and the results are predictable, but pretty amusing. After the movie ends, Mike has turned into a monster – kinda – not really. Meanwhile Pearl is moving the castle back, and they’ve stopped at a truck stop. It gets a little creepy from there on.
A couple of funny host segments just don’t help. The movie is so goofy that it would be OK to watch without any riffing. But the reason for the show is so you get to see the pros do it. But I get the feeling that with only two more shows left after this one – the cast and crew just weren’t into it. The lack of energy and low rate of jokes turns what could have been a great episode into one that is barely being worth seeking out. To me its even more disappointing because this could have been a classic episode, or at the worst, an average episode. But what we get here is a movie that is really asking for it, and a crew who doesn’t seem to be that interested. Its’ a sad mix, that that makes it below average.
I give this two Babs out of five.
This episode is available on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection Volume 11.