Thursday, September 09, 2010

“There's absolutely no reason yet to fear the worst. Until now, we only know that the plane caught fire and we've lost radio contact.”

This next piece of schlock is truly something else. A German film made in 1960 and released in the States in ‘62, it’s called Ein Toter hing im Netz (A Corpse Hangs in the Web) AKA Body in the Web, AKA Girls of Spider Island, AKA Horrors of Spider Island. With that many titles, you know it has to be good!

So there’s this “nightclub” owner is flying out to Singapore with a bunch of female dancers for a gig when suddenly their plane goes down in the South Pacific and the survivors (the guy and his nubile dancers) manage to make it to a remote island. There they find a cabin and the corpse of a scientist who was looking for uranium on the isle dead in a giant fake web. Then the guy wanders off one night and gets bit by a spider puppet, kills it but is then transformed into a man-spider-monster that kills one girl then just kind of wanders around the island for a month while the girls go skinny dipping and have catfights and occasionally try to signal a ship. So I guess it’s kind of like Gilligan's Island, only sexy.

Then a small boat with two guys who work for the dead guy from the cabin arrive and discover the jackpot. And then the monster guy comes back.

Gary Webster: Alexander D’Arcy plays the club owner and defacto leader of the castaways and then he gets turned into a monster. With two monster hands and a really vaguely spider-like face that looks more like the Wolf Man. And he’s shirtless. He’s not a very good monster, since in the span of a month he only succeeds in killing three people. But since this is an awful monster movie, then our awful monster is the badass.

Georgia: Helga Franck plays Gary’s assistant & the defacto leader when he goes missing. She’s is actually not useless throughout the movie.

Babs: Barbara Valentin plays the blonde who’s more or less the “face” of the girls, being front & center for most group scenes.

Ann: Helga Neuner plays the shy girl of the group who falls for one of the new guys that show up.

Joe & Bobby: Harald Maresch & Rainer Brandt (credited as “Temple Foster” & “Allen Turner” in the dubbed Americanized version) are the professor’s assistants who finally return to the island. Bobby’s the promiscuous one who goes through the girls like tissues. Joe is the more sensitive one who forges a reasonably chaste connection with Ann and has a strange fondness for wearing neckerchiefs without a shirt. Guess which one gets killed?

And there’s a whole bunch of other women, but aside from the loose-moraled former stripper, don’t get much characterization. And there’s a guy in the office who looks a lot like Dr. Strangelove.

Directed by Fritz Böttger (or “Jamie Nolan” in the US version), the movie knows exactly the demographic it’s catering to. Young males. We get plenty of shots of the ladies dressing down to their skivvies for any reason at all. Now, since this was the 60s, you don’t actually see anything, er, obviously titillating, but this film is also quite shameless about showing off the talent. And there’s an extended catfight sequence that serves no ulterior purpose other than to have two women wrestling with each other and grunting. Clearly there’s no subtext there.

The spider puppet is awful (a spider with finger-like claws?) but is kind of endearing. Man-Spider Gary is considerably less endearing.

Written by Fritz Böttger, Eldon Howard & Albert G. Miller, the story is absolutely ridiculous in that special way that truly terrible movies are. But if you’ve read any of the above, you’ve clearly picked up on that.

Original music by Karl Bette & Willy Mattes and the soundtrack is a light, jazzy, easy listening kind of sound that is not at all conducive to creating any kind of mood that doesn’t have “softcore” in it’s description.

Horrors of Spider Island is one for the books. Essentialy a nudie flick without any recognizable nudity and a monster flick with a monster that kills people offscreen and wears a terrible “costume.” This movie has everything a B movie connoisseur could possibly want. So bad it’s good.

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