Horrors of Spider Island (1960) reviews and overview

 
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[Total: 15   Average: 2.5/5]

‘Blood-curdling! Hair-raising! Spine-chilling!’

Ein Toter hing im Netz (‘A Corpse Hung in the Web’) is a 1960 West German science-fiction horror feature film directed by Fritz Böttger [as Jaime Nolan] and produced by Wolf C. Hartwig (The HeadDead Sexy, Bloody Moon).

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The film was dubbed and released in the United States by Pacemaker Pictures as It’s Hot in Paradise (sometimes advertised as just Hot in Paradise) in March 1962.

It was later re-issued by Pacemaker in November 1965 in a 75 minute edited ‘horror’ version titled Horrors of Spider Island. It was also apparently released in the United States as The Spider’s Web and Girls of Spider Island

Pacemaker Pictures specialised in releasing European imported movies, bolstered by their lurid ad campaigns, such as The Slaughter of the Vampires, Terror-Creatures from the Grave and Bloody Pit of Horror.

Blu-ray release:

Horrors of Spider Island was released on Blu-ray by Severin Films on May 26th 2020 with both the original, uncut version, scanned from the negative and the alternate U.S. version (as It’s Hot in Paradise), scanned from a low-con film print.

Special features:

  • Horrors of Spider Island – original, uncut version of the film
  • It’s Hot in Paradise – U.S. edit of the film
  • The History of Spider Island with Professor Doctor Marcus Stiglegger
  • Audio interview with actor Alexander D’Arcy by film historian David Del Valle
  • Alternate clothed scenes
  • Trailer
  • Comic book (Severin Films website exclusive)

Blu-ray review:

Severin finally gives fans of this sleazy trash classic the chance to see the original uncut German version in superior quality (albeit with a few blemishes that actually add to the aesthetic), including its brief scenes of nudity! The glimpses of pulchritude on show is hardly earth-shattering and obviously very tame and yet it provides a much better viewing experience for those who crave the real exploitation deal. Even the shorter It’s Hot in Paradise English language version is better quality than all previous DVD incarnations which can be donated to your local charity shop now.

There is also the option to watch the movie in its original language with English subtitles which provides a completely different, slightly more serious take on the shenanigans that take place on the island as opposed to the hilarious international dubbed version.

It’s a shame Severin couldn’t find an exploitation sinema expert or two to provide a lively audio commentary but we do get an informative fifteen-minute video overview of the movie (‘The History of Spider Island’) and German cinema of the era by the rather dapper Professor Doctor Marcus Stiglegger who is thankfully not the dry academic type that sometimes provides disc extras. Producer Wolf C. Hartwig’s extensive oeuvre is mentioned – it includes the equally trashy 1959 film The Head and the dodgy 70s Schoolgirl Report series – plus some amusing details about star Alexander D’Arcy’s varied dalliances in the movie industry. Actor Rainer Brandt’s infamous alternate dubbing career, in which he ad-libbed dialogue with his own often sexist and racist lines, is also mentioned (clearly, such distasteful behaviour wouldn’t be allowed nowadays).

Horror historian David Del Valle – who admits having never seen the movie at the time – provides a brief (two and a half minutes) audio interview with actor Alexander D’Arcy in which the latter claims that director Fritz Böttger had no idea what he was doing so he had to step in and assist with giving pointers to the amateurish actresses!

Needless to say, this must-have Severin release is highly welcome.

Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“While watchable even in its shortest version, Horrors of Spider Island becomes a delirious experience with the added nude swimming footage. The atrocious dubbing contains some of the more quotable one-liners around, while D’Arcy’s weird but decidedly non-threatening monster makes up for the decided lack of actual arachnids on screen.” Mondo Digital

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“Horrors of Spider Island
is actually amusingly bad for a brief while, especially when Webster is holding auditions for the gals before they plunge into the Pacific in a cheaply-conceived plane crash that consists of stock footage and over-acted reaction shots from the cast. Even when they make it aboard the island, the film shows a little bit of promise.” Oh, the Horror!

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“The close-ups of his face are scary, but the editing is awful and the whole movie is confusing.” Michael J. Weldon, The Psychotronic Video Guide

“…garter-belt fetishists are going to be in heaven nearly from start to finish. Of course, great lovers of crappy monster makeup are going to be in heaven, too, even though the were-spider doesn’t get as much screen-time as I would have liked. Indeed, with the were-spider and its little hand-puppet monkey-bug friends on the one hand, and all the lifted skirts and shimmying hips on the other, Horrors of Spider Island would have easily scored enough points to qualify it as a minor classic of trash.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

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Horrors of Spider Island gets more wrong than right, which means it’s an average grindhouse flick. The biggest problem with this film is there’s not enough nudity for a decent exploitation movie and not enough horror for a good creature feature. So, it’s more sizzle than steak. But, I ask you: Isn’t that what the grindhouse was all about?” TheronNeel.com

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“The producers were clearly aiming for nothing more than unabashed unashamed exploitation. They did a great job! The spider makeup covers only the guy’s hands and face, but it looks both real and scary […] The spider resembles those of Cat-Women of the Moon or Missile to the Moon, but it’s smaller and has an evil face.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

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‘It’s Hot in Paradise makes more sense as a title. The horror is just a distraction, this entire film is about getting trapped on a desert island with a bunch of young dancing girls like buxom Barbara Valentin to flesh out a wild orgy. In other words the entire point of the film is what was cut out of it for this version’. Apocalypse Later

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“It has buxom Teutonic babes in (slightly) skimpy swimwear lounging around being all sexy and occasionally getting into hair-pulling girl-fights, it has hunky men looking for love in all the wrong bikini bottoms, and it has a tropical setting full of azure lagoons and cozy beachside cabins. And for some inexplicable reason it also has horrible mutant killer spider-people-thingies who want to murder them all and eat their flesh!” Million Monkey Theater

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Ein Toter Hing Im Netz Horrors of Spider Island - 1960

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One Comment on “Horrors of Spider Island (1960) reviews and overview”

  1. You know what gets to me? Plot is literally about a guy who gets bitten by a radioactive mutant spider… And the venom turns him into a sort ofspider-man`– nobody else sees a lawsuit looming here? I should at least get a percentage of the proceeds.

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