Horrors of Spider Island (1960)


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.

Primitive Love (1964)



Again, let me stress, the rating system is based simply on how much I enjoyed watching the movie.  It’s not a recommendation to anyone who reads this unless you like films that are very bizarre.  If you’re one of Roger Ebert’s contested “geek show” lovers, then this mondo fits the bill perfectly.  Yeah, I watch mondos.  I have no shame.

Primitive Love is bizarre even by mondo standards though.  This movie came on the same DVD as Mondo Balordo (which I’d seen a while ago) and the two films share one thing in common aside from their being part of one of the sickest, most exploitative film sub-genres; they both star actors who were clearly not making the Hollywood a-list.  I forgot why exactly but I guess Jayne Mansfield’s career had really gone south if, after a few promising roles in films such as Frank Tashlin’s The Girl Can’t Help It and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, she had to be in Primitive Love.  I mean, come on.

In Primitive Love Jayne Mansfield plays Dr. Jayne Mansfield – no need to name our characters – who goes to Italy to show a professor that, ahem, male attitudes towards sex are just as primitive now as they were before man became civilized.  So is the film educational?

Of course not, it’s a shock show.  If you’re not familiar with “mondos”, they are pseudo documentaries in the National Geographic style except that, rather than actually trying to teach you about different parts of the world, they just show footage of bizarre mating rituals from primitive tribes, various types of underground fetish clubs, weird religious customs and disturbing footage of animals being tortured.  Often times, when there isn’t enough footage, the filmmakers pad it with mundane stock footage and “pepper” it with narration that attempts to give the footage heavier meaning.  In Primitive Love, somewhere in Africa, some guy was playing the bongos while a woman danced.  Jayne Mansfield described this as a mating ritual or something.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let me start from the beginning.  Primitive Love isn’t entirely a mondo.  The “documentary” portion is framed in a ridiculous sex comedy romp!  I kid you not!  I don’t know how this thing was put together but I’m assuming the producers scored some vaguely intriguing (albeit in a racist, “look at those primitives” kind of way) stock footage along with Jayne Mansfield and, well, just decided to combine the two.  It’s amusing how director Luigi Scattini (emphasis on “scat”) really tries to meld the two into a cohesive movie and boy is it weird.

For the first 15 and last 10 or so minutes (out of 77 total) two bumbling janitors that are basically a grade-z Jerry Lewis and Jerry Lewis Jr. try to get close to Mansfield in all manner of “hilarious” situation.  Mansfield does her normal thing; that high pitch squeak and suggestive behavior – coming out of a shower in towel only, feigning a strip tease, etc. – all while clarifying that she’s not interested in either of the buffoons.  The mondo portion begins after Mansfield sets up her projector for the professor and begins her “thesis.”  Unfortunately, the two moron characters don’t go away during the mondo portion.  They continuously try to sneak peeks and, when they do, picture themselves in parts of the film, daydreaming about their own African jungle fantasies with Mansfield.

One of those scenarios leads to a HILARIOUS racist joke; one of the guys sees a “witch doctor” in the documentary then turns around and sees their black manager and says, “it’s the witch doctor!”  Oh me, oh my!  How racism used to be so funny back in the day!  But, what can I say?  I watch this shit so I guess I’m a hypocrite.

Anyhoo, the mondo portion shows lots of footage of various “primitive” cultures from Africa, Asia and Brazil and, of course, the necessary animal killings and abuse.  Yes the extraction of the snake venom as an aphrodisiac, the cock fight and slaughtering of pig, chicken and crocodile were not easy on the eyes.  On the less grotesque but no less bizarre tip, a woman in China is punished for her lechery by having eggs pelted at her by her husband.

Overall, as mentioned earlier, the combination of the two entirely different concepts is very weird.  If you wanted a Jayne Mansfield sex romp that isn’t any good, you have to deal with sick mondo footage and if you wanted a mondo, well you have to deal with an honestly pretty awful, unfunny and embarrassing set of scenes before and after.  But if you’re a weirdo like me, hoo boy, are you in for a treat.

How to Make a Doll (1968)



It’s mind boggling as to what exactly constituted “watchable” enough that a movie theater would spend the money to get it.  But what do I know?  Apparently Herschell Gordon Lewis never lost a dime on any movie he made.  That makes the situation even more dire because that means people paid and were forced to sit and watch How to Make a Doll.  How the HELL on God’s green Earth was it possible for this tedious, unfunny and annoying movie to be shown in a theater?  For that matter how was it possible for Lewis to watch the finished product without any sense of guilt over ripping off the public?

This movie isn’t even worth talking about.  It was a bonus feature on the Doctor Gore DVD from Something Weird.  That means the folks at Something Weird didn’t even feel comfortable mentioning it on the cover of their DVD as part of a double feature like they usually do.

So what’s all the fuss?  H.G. “I only make exploitation films with no thought to any quality at all” Lewis made a comedy.  A fucking comedy!  As evidenced by the negative tone this review is taking, it should be painfully obvious that H.G. Lewis CAN’T DIRECT A FUCKING COMEDY!!!

So what constitutes “comedy” in the world of H.G. Lewis?  A bumbling, 32 year old college professor, who lives with his exceptionally (deliberately?) creepy mother and doesn’t notice the sexy ladies around him, goes to a make-shift, low budget looking laboratory and, with the help of a mad doctor/sleazy old man, creates women to have sex with. HIIIIILARIOUS!!!

No actually, there IS potential with this topic.  After all John Hughes made Weird Science (not that I’m a John Hughes fan, mind you) so there is potential for humor to come out of the situation.  But alas, that is not the case with this film.  There are definitely attempts at humor, primarily the professor bumbling and stumbling; he gets his tie caught in a door and has to cut a piece off in one scene and he doesn’t notice all of his students getting it on in class in another.  Oh and he drives a funny car.

The laboratory looks neat and retro futuristic, with all those outdated computers and other gadgetry, and the machine which creates the women looks like a Star Trek transporter, but daaamn is that laboratory annoying!  While the dialogue is barely audible, the laboratory sure makes a lot of the sounds!  Just a bunch of buzzing and whirring.  Also the doctor goes into the sex making machine to make more sex with the women he creates.  God this movie sucks.

Honestly, after 2/3 of this pile of tedium, the novelty wears off and you just want it to end.  And, to be perfectly honest, the fact that I couldn’t hear a lot of dialogue combined with the numbing tedium made it difficult for me to really get what was going on by the third act.  I guess he got sick of the crazy life he created for himself and wanted to settle down with a real woman he loves?  If that IS the case, then it means technically the climax occurs at least 15 minutes before the movie actually ends.  I don’t know, it’s all such a blur at this point.

The poster is also completely misleading; “Will sexy girls overrun the country?”  Who knows?  Maybe?  Either way this question is never even broached in How to Make a Doll or, rather, if it was, I couldn’t hear it because of all the annoying sounds being made in that laboratory!

The Body Shop (1973)



All righty!  This is what I’m talking about!  Here we have a creepy, sick, disturbing and underrated splatter classic from writer/director J.G. Patterson Jr., who worked with and drew inspiration from H.G. Lewis but managed to make a movie that is actually kind of good!  The Body Shop – also known as Doctor Gore (a better title IMO) – serves as a prototype for Re-Animator with its theme of a doctor that tries to bring his dead wife back to life.

Now I don’t know if Stuart Gordon was inspired by The Body Shop but the main, glaringly obvious thematic difference between the two movies is that Dr. Brandon (played by Patterson) had no altruistic goal in mind.  In fact, when I said he wanted to resurrect his wife, I meant to say he wanted to create a really hot woman from the parts of other women and bang her a whole lot.  I’m not kidding!  How else could a creepazoid like that get a woman?  Well he did inherit his dead, rich actress wife’s will but I digress.

According to the poster above, The Body Shop was filmed entirely in North Carolina but why does the doctor’s house look like a castle you’d find on the European country side?  Was his house that big?  Pretty crazy.  Within the house is where the doctor does his experiments assisted by a typical, cliche laboratory hunchback who just wants the doctor to fix his body.  The doctor of course has other goals in mind; that is to assemble the parts of female corpses to create the ultimate super woman.

The story gets a little strange at this point though.  You see the doctor apparently has the capability to seduce and/or hypnotize women into going back to his lab, where he proceeds to cut off a leg, arm or whatever is necessary.  But, if he’s such a charmer, why does he NEED to assemble a woman in the first place?  He picks up one victim from a local bar where undiscovered country heroes Bill Hicks and the Rainbows are performing.

I suppose his seducing women just to use them to build his “super woman” adds to his being a completely loathsome character with no redeeming qualities.  And, to be sure, the scenes are hella gorey!  It’s obvious how the effects were created; whether it be a carefully hidden limb or a “severed” head sticking out from somewhere but the fact is the effects look real and gross.  The doctor cuts off limbs, cuts open torsos, cuts out eyes and does a whole bunch of unsavory things with his creepy set of surgical tools.

Eventually he builds a woman and she definitely is quite hot.  He attempts to teach her stuff the way a parent would teach a little kid.  But, as these things typically do, the plot goes awry and, well, I’m not going to spoil it for you.  The Body Shop has its obvious flaws with the least of them being its miniscule budget.  There are moments that don’t make that much sense and an ending that’s a tiny bit confusing but as a whole, it’s worth the 80 minutes you’ll spend watching it.

Color Me Blood Red (1965)



I don’t want to ruffle any feathers and cause any brain aneurisms at the thought that your entire world might be turned around by this ground breaking statement but Herschell Gordon Lewis is a lousy director.  Don’t get me wrong; I love his stuff and I’ve seen all his movies but they’re not any good.  Gordon has more or less said that he’s not aiming for any artistic merit but just to entertain.  And that’s the problem!  Unless he’s filling the screen with gore, violence, perversion or just nogoodniks doing nogoodniky things, he really sucks!

Case in point: Color Me Blood Red.  I saw this one a while ago and remembered it being way more entertaining but, upon second viewing, I was surprised by how boring this movie is.  80 minutes that seem interminable.  And I don’t want to turn potential viewers away from the films of H.G. Lewis by such a negative assessment so I’ll at least attempt to explain what Color Me Blood Red is all about and why I think it failed at doing what it was supposed to do.

After leaving the world of nudie cuties (which he’d later return to), Lewis with producer David F. Friedman set for the uncharted territory of wanton gore and splatter.  As evidenced by Blood Feast which caused a traffic jam upon its inaugural showing at a drive-in, it worked and Lewis/Friedman had a new gimmick to exploit.  And yes, Blood Feast, 2000 Maniacs, Color Me Blood Red, The Gruesome Twosome, The Wizard of Gore and The Gore Gore Girls are all very gross, bloody and gory; just as bad – possibly worse – than a lot of popular R rated slasher films.

The problem is that stuff has to happen between the gore sequences.  Lewis not only is lousy at his direction, which consists of home video quality photography that often sits on nothing in particular but also can’t build up suspense worth a damn.  I won’t bash the horrendous sound since he probably could only afford one boom mic.  This leaves only two things to enjoy; the hokey acting and the gore.  The gore movies especially are unique since, instead of horny teenagers who bang within 10 minutes of the opening credits, you get to see an immense level of gore juxtaposed with 1950s-early 60s “golly, gee whiz!” dialogue and action.  Color Me Blood Red just has way too much of the latter.

Color Me Blood Red is sort of an update of Roger Cormon’s artistically superior A Bucket of Blood.  In that film an artist killed people and covered them in clay, producing works of “art” for pretentious, know-it-all critics.  In Color Me Blood Red, the artist Adam (Don Joseph) uses human blood to give his canvas extra color.  Guess how he gets it.  Aside from the hilariously sickening scene of him passing out from using too much of his own blood, he begins to kill people and use theirs.

Unsurprisingly the local critics really love his work; violent, sick and daring!  Soon the body count picks up until a group of local kids gets wind to what he’s doing when they discover a rotting corpse on his beach side property.  Seems like a hoot, right?  It would be if there was more killing!  He stabs his annoying fiance, runs through someone with a harpoon on a motorboat and uses a woman’s lower intestine to color his canvas but there are just too many scenes of beach party bingo nonsense and goofy kids literally doing nothing.  They splash each other, crack corny jokes and frolic about but remain remarkably un-killed!  BOOORRRRIIIING!!!  And these are the annoying kids that I wanted to see get killed!  And he doesn’t kill a single one of them!  Arrrrghghgh!!!

Tanya (1976)



On a Something Weird double feature DVD with Wilbur and the Baby Factory, the movie Tanya makes me question if the Something Weird guys are really just gussied up porn peddlers.  I mean, come on… Tanya is seriously just wall to wall sex.  There are maybe a couple minute of dialogue or other stuff other than sex.  And, to be sure, these are not soft core scenes.  Okay you don’t see full on penetration, but it’s pretty clear the “actors” in the film are having real sex.

Tanya was inspired by the 1974 Patty Hearst kidnapping, in which a high society girl gets napped by a group of radical, left wing revolutionary types who set out to make a statement.  The only statement they make is how much they like sex.  There are five members in the group, their radical black leader Cinque (B.B. Hinds), an overweight white guy who looks like David Crosby, two white chicks and a black chick.  Then enter Tanya (Maria Arnold), a sexy but innocent woman who is about to be married but very quickly learns that bedding with every other character is so much more fun.

And that’s the plot!  The kidnappers kidnap the girl, she fucks everyone, the end!  There are little bits in between involving a news reporter on a black and white TV, whose role is pretty useless and there are scenes of dialogue, usually your typical left wing mumbo-jumbo, one scene where they kill a police officer – it’s implied that Tanya exerts him to death with sex but we are not exactly sure – one scene where Cinque uses raid to kill some bugs and a few pointless, outdoor training sequences.  But, other than that, there’s just sex and more sex.  In fact, just to show how much fucking Tanya does, there is a montage of the same sex scenes we already saw earlier.  With the exception of one exterior shot and the news reporter’s studio, the majority of the movie takes place in a dingy, wooden hideout.

The sex was somewhat erotic – involving all types of positions and approaches that need no description –  barring the scenes with the overweight, balding David Crosby lookalike.  And that about covers it.

Dracula (The Dirty Old Man) (1969)



I don’t even know where to start with this one.  I’m on a quest to see everything in the Something Weird library and William Edwards’ classic Dracula (The Dirty Old Man) just happened to be the next film up and, well, it’s pretty shitty.  I mean, it’s no worse than most of what I’ve seen from Something Weird and not even half as boring as say, Monster at Camp Sunshine or a number of sexploitation/nudy cutie flicks.  Hell!  It even has a special effect!  Dracula disappears and reappears!  How did they do that!?

Uh, right… so this 68 minute feature is about a vampire who dresses like Dracula yet talks in an old Jewish/Yiddish accent, which must have been a deliberate attempt at schlocky Jewish humor since the Jackal-Man character is named (sigh) Dr. Irving Jekyll.  Basically Count Alucard goes around kidnapping women, taking them back to his dungeon and biting their boobs, leaving two vampire bite holes.

His slave, Dr. Irving Jekyll does the same thing, I think.  I don’t know.  Actually, the movie is pretty darn insulting.  The vampire constantly remarks about how one of the girls he kidnaps and chains up is overweight and how another has small boobs.  Elsewhere the characters make fun of each other and there are some necking couples here and there.  There’s also some gore, which would be affective if it actually looked like gore and not piled on red slop and if a character actually looked like he wounded another character rather than just implying it before the camera cuts away.

The dubbing is also piss poor which unintentionally (or maybe not?) makes it that much funnier and the Jackal-Man just looks like he’s wearing a cheap Halloween mask.  Ohhh, crap… the Jackal-Man is supposed to be said as Irving Jackalman, hahahahahaha, oy gavolt!  Apparently this movie was dubbed into several languages, which means, I assume, that several of the Jewish jokes were lost on people.  This thing actually showed at different festivals!  It’s a fuckin’ home movie for crying out loud!

I made my friend Sarah watch this with me and she said, “Edwin, you have the shittiest taste in movies.”  And I said, “mmm, it wasn’t that bad.”