Horrors of Spider Island (1960)

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I’m way too lenient on these, aren’t I?  Horrors of Spider Island (a.k.a. It’s Hot in Paradise a.k.a. Body in the Web a.k.a. A Corpse Hangs in the Web) really is a piece of shit and it’s fitting that the only company that gave the movie a VHS/DVD release was Something Weird.

According to IMDB:

“First released in the United States in 1962, as an Adults-Only movie titled It’s Hot in Paradise. Three years later, trimmed of its nude scenes, it was re-released in the U.S. as a horror/sci-fi monster film, Horrors of Spider Island.

So really Horrors of Spider Island is just a nudie-cutie flick no different from Monster at Camp Sunshine or The Beast That Killed Women only with one tiny, little problem.  THERE WERE NO FUCKING NUDE SCENES!!!  I don’t know why Something Weird released the film without the nude scenes since that seems to be their raison d’etre; to release shitty, boring nudie flicks whose only saving grace is the nudity!  But they did and what we’re left with is another snoozer that begins promisingly but soon degenerates into a series of boring sub-plots and drama that nobody cares about and make the movie seem interminable in spite of its relatively short length of 76 minutes.

The movie begins in someone’s office with a bunch of hot dancers auditioning to be part of a dance troupe and go to Singapore (or somewhere like that, I forgot) to dance.  Instead their plane crash lands and the ladies and the guy in charge of watching them end up marooned on a tropical island where a giant spider turns people into killer spider people.  Only problem is that barely happens at all.

Again it starts off promising when the ladies walk into a cabin and see a dead man in a spider’s web; an obviously freaky site (or at least it’s supposed to be if I didn’t know it was fake and the spider web was just some rope).  Then the guy who was in charge of the girls goes wandering, gets bit by a spider and turns into an honestly cool looking spider monster.  This looked like it was leading somewhere.

But, unfortunately, when your movie is just an edited down nudie flick, you can only expect the rest of the scenes to be nothing but obnoxious filler and the music to be cabaret/burlesque rather than horror movie music.  And so it goes… the rest of the film involves two sailors who stumble on the island and engage the women with their tomfoolery; one of them is suave and charming and goes after one girl after another while the other guy is just like a normal guy looking for a special gal.  There’s also a bit of sexy cat fighting and some skinny dipping.  But aside from those scenes, the film turned into one of the most uninteresting soap operas until, finally, the spider monster starts killing again, resulting in one other death – and that wasn’t even from the monster, it was from the girl jumping off the cliff trying to escape!

One last point of interest is that, during the scene when the plane takes a dive, the filmmaker or whoever was so lazy and lacking in imagination that he didn’t even try to create the inside of an airplane when showing closeups of the girls screaming.  He could have taken a couple of car seats and put them next to a window and at least tried to make it look like the shot was from inside a plane. Instead he just uses two extreme closeups of the ladies with a black, nothing background.  Truly amazing.

Orgy of the Dead (1965)

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Let’s talk about Edward D. Wood Jr. for a second.  He should not be put on a pedestal as the “worst director of all time.”  The people who say that have not seen what I’ve seen.  They have not traversed the beautifully horrendous filmographies of H.G. Lewis, Andy Milligan, Al Adamson, Ted V. Mikels, or Barry Mahon.  There is so much hilariously inept, completely inane garbage available in the world of exploitation, Eurotrash, nudie-cuties, and drive-in sci fi and horror, that to bestow Ed Wood with that honor fails to recognize others for their brilliant lack of talent.

And so we have Orgy of the Dead, which was not directed by Wood, but adapted by him from his novel of the same name.  I had no idea that he was such a prolific writer, and I was rather surprised that he wrote a book called Suburbia Confidential.  I’ve seen the mid-60s stag film called Suburbia Confidential, and the directing credit is given to Stephen C. Apostolof, who also directed Orgy of the Dead and often collaborated with Wood.  However I haven’t been able to figure out if Suburbia Confidential was based on Wood’s book.  Wood’s book is said to have come out in 1967, the year after the movie so I don’t know.

Either way, Orgy of the Dead is a decent enough nudie flick, except that it’s too damn long.  These things should never be longer than 70 minutes, and Orgy of the Dead has a running time of 91 minutes.  The plot is about a husband and wife, who crash their car by a mountain, wake up next to a cemetery, wander in, and observe an after dark ceremony of sorts.

In other words, what they – and we – observe is striptease after striptease after striptease after striptease, while the Emperor (Criswell) and his Vampira wannabe, the Black Goul (Fawn Silver), chew the scenery.  To add to the stupidity, the Mummy, who talks for some reason, and the Wolf Man are the Emperor’s henchmen.  Eventually, the sun comes up and everyone dies, and the man and wife try to tell their story to cops, and they laugh, saying things like “woa, musta had a pretty bad crash” or “hit your head” or something to that effect.

But, is it worth watching?  The women all look fantastic, apparently all pulled from local strip clubs; so they are busty, curvy, and toned.  Set to a soundtrack of old timey, Cabaret music, the girls each do a unique dance – Hawaiian Dance, Skeleton Dance, Streetwalker Dance, Slave Dance, Cat Dance, Fluff Dance, Mexican Dance and Zombie Dance – and, with the exception of the zombie, are all relatively graceful. The Zombie Dance, in spite being naked, evokes no eroticism due to her zombie moves.  And there is one scene where the Mummy and the Wolfman dip a woman into molten gold, which only further accentuates her gorgeous curves.

Other than that, the fake looking graveyard is cool as well.  We were debating if Orgy of the Dead was filmed in an actual graveyard or if a replica was built on a cheap set.  I say the latter only because the ground is completely flat.  But, since unlike in Plan 9 from Outer Space, the actors had enough grace to not bump into the grave stones, they were believable set pieces. But I suppose that is completely irrelevant for this type of movie anyway.