Monday, July 16, 2012


FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND Magazine #34, with a cover date of August 1965, had a blurb on the cover (which featured a great color painting of Mr. Hyde by the way) about a new horror film, THE HORRORS OF SPIDER ISLAND. Inside, there were several black-and-white stills from the film and a short synopsis of the plot. I still have that issue but up until yesterday afternoon, I had never seen the film, which I had longed to see since I first saw those grainy images as a nine-year-old monster movie fanatic.

Sad to say that this now 56-year-old monster movie fanatic was disappointed when I sat down and watched the movie yesterday. Here's the plot, in case you're interested.

Eight beautiful showgirls/dancers/strippers and their manager are bound for an engagement in Singapore when their plane crashes in the ocean. They are swept up on the shores of a seemingly deserted island. They find a man's body in a gigantic spider-web within a cabin. Soon after, the manager gets bitten by a giant crab-like spider whose bite transforms him into a kind of were-spider. He then proceeds to terrorize the women. Two sailors arrive on the island and after romancing the girls (which involves lots of drinking and dancing), they all set out to finish off the mutated manager. Using flares, they chase the monster into quicksand. Say it with me: when the monster's dead, the movie's over.

What makes this film at least marginally interesting is the back story concerning its' production history, a tale that Forry Ackerman (the editor of FAMOUS MONSTERS) either had no knowledge of or perhaps he didn't find the information suitable for publication in a magazine aimed at youngsters.

THE HORRORS OF SPIDER ISLAND was filmed in West Germany in 1960 under the title IT'S HOT IN PARADISE. When the film was finally picked up for distribution in the United States in 1965, the semi-nudie film's title was changed to the more exploitative (and marketable) HORRORS OF SPIDER ISLAND. Shot in black and white and horribly dubbed, this is a true grind house classic. The monster is appropriately hideous while the women spend much of the film in various states of undress. It's incredibly tame by today's standards but was hot stuff on the drive-in circuit of the mid-1960s.

It's not the worst film I've ever seen but it sure doesn't live up to what my young, fevered imagination conjured up back in the summer of 1965. But what does?

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