Most of my knowledge and experience with “Horrors of Spider Island” (aka “Body in the Web,” aka “A Corpse Hung in the Web” aka “It’s Hot in Paradise”) begins and ends with “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” It was lampooned in easily one of the funniest episodes of the series, and as it was nothing but goofy thinly veiled porn then, it’s goofy thinly veiled porn today. It’s somehow become something of a cult classic today, which is shocking considering the movie has almost nothing to offer. Even in its original uncensored form, the narrative is non-existent, and the movie is teeming with uncomfortable rapey overtones and very obvious lesbian overtones.
En route to a show in Singapore, a troupe of beautiful, buxom dancers are stranded on a deserted island by a plane crash with their manager, the womanizing but buff Gary. Their routine of skinny-dipping and devising new skimpy outfits is interrupted when a radioactive spider bites Gary and turns him into a wild-eyed, furry-faced monster with three fangs and a passion for strangling the women.
Frankly it’s shocking that director Fritz Bottger doesn’t commit to staging romance scenes with his actresses. They spend most of the movie scampering around in torn clothing, and skimpy bathing suits, all while caressing one another. Meanwhile one of the only male characters spends his entire time as a silly spider monster that stalks the buxom women and strangles them to death one by one. The pretense that this is a monster movie is a big stretch as only about twenty percent of the script involves monster mayhem; the rest of the script is littered with plot holes (Are there any more spiders on this island? Was there just that one? Was anyone else ever bitten by one? If so, where did they go?), lapses in logic, and tacked on dance numbers.
The rest is a lot of men ogling women, women flirting with each other, women flirting with men, and a lot of hot island sexual antics. The movie was toned down and repackaged for American audiences, which honestly doesn’t help the film at all. The direction is piss poor and the acting is just horrendous; “Horrors of Spider Island” can be appreciated if you’re a collector or monster movie completist. You’ll be very sorely disappointed if you’re in the mood for a genuine monster movie and aren’t cushioning the punishment with “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” You’re better off with equally silly fare like “The Horror of Party Beach” and or “Robot Monster.” At least those titles are actual monster movies.
Extras for the release from Severin Films include reversible cover art, a limited edition slipcover which is only being given a short print run of 3000 units*. There’s an original trailer for the film, as well as alternate clothed sequences clocking in at eight minutes (with no subtitles). There’s an audio with Actor Alexander D’Arcy by Horror Historian David Del Valle clocking in at two minutes. Among the topics discussed in the interview with Alexander D’Arcy it includes background information about “Horrors of Spider Island” and how he assisted in the screenplay’s rewrite as well as directing some scenes.
There’s also an interview with Professor Dr. Marcus Stiglegger titled “The History of Spider Island” which runs fifteen minutes. Topics discussed include post World War II German cinema, background information about Horrors of Spider Island/how the film was shot in Yugoslavia in 1959. Director Fritz Böttger gives an overview of films produced by Wolf C. Hartwig who produced the “Schoolgirl Report” film series, along with thoughts on actors Alexander D’Arcy, Rainer Brandt, actress Barbara Valentin and “Horrors of Spider Island.” Other extras include the alternate U.S. release version titled “It’s Hot in Paradise” which clocks in at seventy seven minutes, and is presented with English subtitles.
*Collectors that buy from Severin’s web store get an exclusive limited edition comic book.