Baker’s Log – A Quick Look: Horrors of Spider Island (1960)

In the first half of the 1950’s, long-busy character actor Alex D’Arcy was becoming something of a heartthrob and was even getting memorable parts in major pictures like HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE. His brush with true stardom didn’t hold, however, and Alex began the next decade by headlining this German horror vehicle about a plane load of beautiful dancers who crash at sea and become stranded on a mysterious island also housing a large spider of unknown origin.

Gary (D’Arcy), their manager, wanders off one night and gets bitten by the spider. For some reason this transforms him into a half-human mutant spider beast that stalks the girls whenever one of them manages to break loose of the group. When a pair of studly research assistants come to the island, the monster stuff is all but forgotten until the final reel. In the meantime, it’s basically one big party scene as the girls dress up in tropical duds and the two men come to blows over one’s less-than-respectful attitude towards the girls.

Horrors of Spider Island

This one is weirdly structured to begin with, but is filled with additional bits of oddities, like the plane flying from LA to New York and then back to the Pacific on the way to Singapore, or the constant reference to a clip pistol as a “revolver”. More peep show than monster movie, it was originally imported to raincoat theaters as IT’S HOT IN PARADISE, making no mention in advertising of the monster! A few years later, it was re-issued as HORRORS OF SPIDER ISLAND and sold to kiddie matinees! This release of the film got a big publicity campaign that played up the horror aspects of the plot. The kids who came to see the film must’ve been confused, and even a little bored, by the large middle section which is basically nothing but a parade of scantily clad ladies. Of those ladies, the most notable bit of casting is German pinup girl Barbara Valentin in her first credited role (in fact, she gets second billing in the US version, as Barbara Valentine, and she wasn’t overly famous Stateside). A glamorous blonde of the Bardot/Diana Dors/Jayne Mansfield variety, Miss Valentin went onto a fairly hefty movie career in Europe. As for HORRORS OF SPIDER ISLAND, it was never sold to television. A pristine DVD release came via Something Weird Video in the late 90’s. About that time, the film also became a subject on Mystery Science Theater 3000 in that show’s final season. It was one of their better episodes, actually.

Barbara Valentin
Barbara Valentin

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Rock is a pencil jockey by trade. He's done work for AC Comics, Main Enterprises, and Moonstone, among others. Some of the strips he's created include Dinosaur Girl (AC Comics, creator, writer, pencils), Crissy Carrots (Main, creator, writer, pencils), and Betsy the Bookwriter (Main, co-creator, writer, pencils). His specialty is cheesecake cartooning (what they call "good girl art" these days).

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