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Film / Horrors of Spider Island

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(The) Horrors of Spider Island is a 1961 Exploitation Film.

A troupe of dancers is assembled in New York City for a special performance in Singapore. Unfortunately, their plane crashes and the survivors (the troupe plus their manager Gary and his assistant Georgia) become castaways on an island. A little exploration reveals that the island used to be the home of a scientist mining for uranium, before he was killed by spiders. One night Gary gets bitten by a spider and turns into a spider-monster, stalking his former friends and killing them.

The film was a German flick, but represented an interesting midpoint in cinema between the traditional horror film and the nudie cuties that would pop up in the early-to-mid 60's that would lead to the eventual creation of the MPAA ratings.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.

Horrors of Spider Island contains the following tropes:

  • All Men Are Perverts: The moment they hit the island, Gary starts hitting on everyone. He blames the heat. Sure, Gary. Meanwhile, after Gary's gone, the Professor's assistants arrive — one of them decides to try to do every girl on the island, including his best friend's new love interest.
  • All Women Are Lustful:
    • The ladies are stranded on an island, one of the only competent members of their group has gone missing, and the food's running out. When two average-looking men show up, you'd think the ladies would have bigger concerns than seducing them, but, well... The guys do bring food and supplies with them (they were resupplying the scientist who lived on the island), but forgetting about their missing friends is harder to justify.
    • As Mike and the bots proved, when you're in a plane crash, you instantly become languid, helpless, and sex-starved, and you murmur and coo a lot.
  • As You Know: Bob and Joe clumsily provide exposition they should already know and not discuss: they're working for a professor and bring his scheduled supplies.
  • Bat Deduction: When the other women find the body of Linda, the stripper, they find marks on her neck that indicate she's been strangled and immediately come to the conclusion that "the spider" had done it. Disregarding the fact that spiders generally poison their prey, not strangle them, the spider did try to strangle Gary, but they had no way of knowing that the spider is a strangling spider.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: "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."
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Joe and Anne. It starts with him saying he's glad her plane crashed (so he could meet her), and, well, if this movie were more competently written it would get worse, but the bit ends rather lamely.
  • Easily Forgiven: Bob and Joe get into a nasty fistfight over the latter impugning the honor of the former's girl — and laugh about it right after.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Linda the stripper gets two: first, when she starts smoking whilst sitting beneath a prohibitive sign (even going so far as to take the sign off the wall and sit on it), showing her casual contempt for rules and procedure; second, when she goes in for her audition, she immediately begins stripping, with no prompting whatsoever.
    • Gary enters the office and promptly demonstrates that he will not be Distracted by the Sexy, covering one dancer's legs and taking Linda's cigarette from her, showing that he's all business. (He does lose this a bit once they get to the island, though.)
  • Failed a Spot Check: Plenty of easy ways to get killed by spiders by remaining unaware of surroundings.
  • Fanservice:
    • There's lots of scantily clad women in this movie. However, in the bathing scene, they wear light-colored body stockings. So they're nude, but they're not!
    • The auditions themselves have the girls showing off their legs and getting nearly naked. Only two of the auditions for a dance troupe actually involve dancing.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: At least in the dub. The late professor's gun is an automatic pistol that is exclusively referred to as a "revolver" by the characters. One even does so just before inserting a magazine, all but forcing viewers to notice the mistake.
  • Idiot Ball: One of the dancers asks if you can eat uranium. It's possible she's being sarcastic (i.e., finding food should be their first priority), but the acting leaves a little something to be desired.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: The moans from the sun-stricken dancers sound... erotic. Lampshaded and deconstructed by Mike and the 'bots.
  • Kill It with Fire: They somehow deduce that spider-Gary can only be destroyed with fire, so they drive him into quicksand by brandishing torches. Which means he wasn't destroyed by fire at all.
  • Ladykiller in Love: The movie appears to be trying to pull this off with Bob and Gladys, but the clumsy execution only succeeds in making Bob look like an indecisive Jerkass.
  • LEGO Genetics: They don't even bother to explain how or why radiation makes spiders mutate, or why their bites turn you into a werespider. Other than uranium deposits being nearby, and that's barely a Hand Wave.
  • Love at First Sight: Minutes after her first meeting with Bob (which involved him grabbing her while she was skinny-dipping), Gladys begins to consider marrying him.
  • Monster Misogyny: Kind of hard to avoid when the only two other guys come to the island in the last third of the film. 3 of the 4 men on the island end up getting killed.
  • Mood Whiplash: In the MST3K version of the film (which differs from other prints), the girls escape the island to some easy-going music, then "THE END" abruptly appears on a black screen, accompanied by a creepy, dissonant music cue.
    Tom: So, you want to end your movie that way, huh? Okay, get bent, we're outta here.
  • No Ending: Well, sort of. There's a shot of the girls leaving the island on a boat, then the film just... stops.
  • Nuclear Mutant: Just being vaguely near uranium deposits is enough to make spiders into giant mutants.
  • Official Couple: Gary was closer to Georgia than a boss and secretary normally are until Gary got spiderized.
  • Offscreen Crash: The plane crash. One moment the plane is coming down, a few ocean scenes later they're all on the raft.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: Gary gets bitten by a radioactive spider, and rather than becoming a superhero, he turns into a vicious human-spider hybrid monster.
  • Plot Armor: The only way that the women and the talent agent were able to survive the flaming, nose-down, off screen plane crash — with nary a scratch, while the pilots and any other crew or passengers don't survive.
  • Quicksand Sucks: Spider Gary is ultimately killed when he's led into a patch of quicksand. Somewhat justified in that the quicksand in question is at the bottom of a pond; it's possible Gary simply got his feet bogged down, fell beneath the water's surface and drowned.
  • The Scourge of God: Spider-Gary's first victim is the lone stripper of the group, who previously threw herself at Gary and only managed to get slapped by an angry Georgia.
  • Sexophone: Heard whenever one of the dancers acts sexy, even when she's by herself.
  • Show Some Leg: The Movie. During the odd auditions for dancers, it's the first thing Gary asks of the first dancer. Which gets her a job. Something tells us that he's not hiring dancers to go to Singapore. The one classically trained dancer gets turned away.
  • Smart Ball: When the group finds a hammer, Gary correctly says that since it's got a long handle it's a mining hammer, probably used for mining radioactive elements like uranium.
  • Soft Water: Because it's easy to survive a plane falling nose-first into water, uninjured.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Joe and Bob can speak honestly to each other, have a good laugh after a fistfight, and Joe takes a moment to mourn Bob's death after finding his body.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Gladys's dancing partner Doreen is hired by Gary alongside Gladys and then disappears from the film without a mention.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: The only thing spiderized Gary shows any fear towards is fire. The second a torch is lit, he flees in terror.
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: Linda strips to her unmentionables during her "audition" as a "dancer".