A trash product that can hardly be beaten
After a plane crash, manager Gary Webster is stranded on a deserted island with a group of models, even though they were booked for a dance revue in Singapore. While exploring, the group finds a small hut containing the body of a man in a spider web. A short time later, Gary himself is bitten by an unusually large spider and mutates into a horrible monster that targets the girls. The women are helped by two daredevils, Joe and Robby, who have landed on the island in a small boat and can't believe their luck being surrounded by so many pretty women. The models are in a frenzy to win the favor of the dapper Robby, which leads to some quarrels. But when the monster strikes again, team spirit is called for.
After The Head, Horrors of Spider Island is the second horror film produced by Rapid-Film. The daring mixture of sexually revealing young women who have to deal with a spider monster is quite unusual for a German production and is more reminiscent of US exploitation cinema, which quite obviously served as a blueprint. Thus, the now B-movie specialized US actor Alexander D'Arcy got the lead role, while the roles of the models were filled by German actresses who were unknown at the time. Only Barbara Valentin (Fear Eats the Soul) and Dorothee Parker (The Black Panther of Ratana) appeared again in notable productions in the following years. The dashing Robby is played by German dubbing legend Rainer Brandt.
The film itself is splendid trash, which shuttles back and forth between monster horror and sexy imagery again and again, sometimes disregarding logic. The audience is just as puzzled as to why the titular dead man in the web does not mutate into a spider monster as the models who, in the face of the threat, decide to have a party first. At the time, Catholic film critics called it a trash product, but the film is an exceptional early product of German exploitation cinema. The sometimes slow pace and some lengths should be forgiven.
Public domain version with additional missing parts compared to the US version
The public domain version, which is included on various cheap DVDs, basically corresponds to the US version. However, the ending was shortened and two additional scene parts are lost due to film tears. For example, the models talk a little longer at dinner and are handed the torches by Joe at the end.
The US Blu-ray by Severin features the US version as well as the uncut and uncensored version for the first time. The Blu-ray is codefree. Anyone interested in the film can grab this one without hesitation.
Public Domain version: 74:42 min.
Comparison between the shortened US public domain version and the uncut German version. Both are included on the US Blu-ray by Severin.
Alternate title insert.
PD: 7 sec.
GER: 1:01 min.
Ballet dancer Caroline's demonstration for Webster is much longer.
GER: 44 sec.
After Caroline is escorted outside, Cat is led into the room. She greets Webster and Georgia. Georgia mentions that she has lost weight and should not be getting any fatter now, while Cat starts unbuttoning her blouse. Georgia tells her to wait outside for now.
After Cat leaves, the US resumes.
GER: 17 secs.
As the models run to the water, Webster is shown picking up his shirt from the ground. He climbs onto a rock and calls the models to him.
GER: 18 sec.
Webster and the women walk toward the jungle. Georgia says she thinks it's like paradise here. Webster agrees with her and thinks they are safe here. He pauses for a moment, seeming to have heard something. The other women have not heard anything. Webster leads the way and climbs up a small hill with the others.
GER: 1:26 min
The German version cuts to the dead man in the net one more time. Webster says that he has to get him down from there. He can't do it with his hands and looks for a tool. He cuts through the ropes with a machete.
Outside the hut, the women can be seen. One wants to go in and get her bag, but is held back. The camera pans to the tree on which a large spider is sitting.
GER: 41 sec.
Blackwood is awakened by a phone call. He is told that the plane has been found, but there is still no sign of his squad. He reacts upset when he learns that the search operation has been called off. Blackwood wants to do his utmost to ensure that the search operation continues.
GER: 52 sec.
The models are shown eating for a longer time. They are a little unsettled about the dead man in the spider web. Nelly fears that something bad is about to happen.
The public domain version resumes as the door opens.
GER: 17 secs.
Before Webster counts the supplies, the black screen is longer in the German version.
GER: 1 sec.
Nelly rips Babs' blouse open as they tussle with each other.
GER: 7 secs.
The camera continues up to Nelly, who is dancing for Robin.
GER: 8 secs.
Robin comes up to Nelly to dance with her, but she indicates that he should lie down on the floor. Nelly continues her dance.
GER: 1:49 min
While Robin is seen, the camera cuts to Nelly dancing for him.
GER: 9 sec.
Nelly plays with her flower necklace a bit while Robin makes out.
GER: 9 secs.
Another time the camera cuts briefly to Nelly dancing.
GER: 10 secs.
After Ann is kissed by Joe, the camera cuts back to Nelly.
GER: 7 secs.
Robin and Nelly dance together for a longer time.
GER: 14 secs.
The monster escapes for a longer time, after which the models are shown running to the hut. Joe gives them torches and says that this is the only way to drive the monster away.
GER: 12 secs.
The public domain version fades in "The End" as the boat leaves the bay.
In the US version, we see Joe and the models on the boat again, eventually the boat again. Then "The End" fades in.
PD: 9 sec
GER: 52 sec.