Friday, 29 November 2013

Horrors of Spider Island (1962)

The (West) German film Horrors of Spider Island was released in its home country in 1960, but did not make it to the US until two years later, initially under the title It's Hot in Paradise. Those two titles sound like very different movies, and that's not an unfair assessment of the film itself. Something like 80% of the run time is more or less a campy castaway film, with barely-clad women swimming, dancing, squabbling and catfighting. The remaining 20% features the most hysterically ill-advised giant spider puppet I've ever seen (and I've seen "Giant Spider Invasion"), and the only slightly less awful man-spider who is the film's main antagonist. Though honestly he's a rather lacklustre adversary, given that he only attacks one woman in the entire month they're on the island, until the 'climactic' encounter at the end of the film (I guess before that he didn't want to interrupt their skinny-dipping).

The version of the film I saw is the nominally "all audiences" 75 minute cut, though as noted it's still pretty sleazy; the original release was 85 minutes and a bit of googling indicates it was a straight-up sexploitation film, something for which producer Wolf C. Hartwig was well known.

Despite the uneven acting, laughable effects, and very silly plot, I enjoyed my time watching this film.  It's so unabashed about its goofy mix of inept horror and only slightly more polished titillation that I can't help but like it.  I'm not sure I would enjoy the longer cut as much: I don't think it would feel quite as lovably naff.

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