Friday, February 24, 2012

Fiend of Dope Island: The Fiend Visits Another Island

I’ve been told by at least one fan that I make tolerable YouTube public-domain media mashups. It is rather enjoyable. Were it not for book contracts or dead-end jobs I must fulfill I’d do a lot more of them, many additionally uploaded here for the enjoyment of Cleveland Movie Blog legion of fans (what do you call yourselves, anyway? Juggalos? Ignizians? Guys without girlfriends? I’m sorry about that last one, but I speak from personal experience, damn internet. No wonder Larry King refused to learn computers).

But I was alerted to this one done on YouTube, a great montage of public-domain cheapo horror flick footage to the tune of Cleveland's classic band Artful Dodger and their little melody “Scream” (sorry, embedding is disabled so you'll just have to click the link).

Yeah, with former Clevelander Wes Craven trashing his once-clever horror hit of the same name with progressively worse sequels, I wonder if he’s ever/will ever wave some Dimension Pictures cash at Artful Dodger (who probably like me work unloading stuff at a discount retailer) to use this song in some way. Does anyone know if he already did?

In any case, I think this is an awesome mating of image to music, even with low-rez digitization and what looks to me to be Apple iMovie software of a few generations back. Hey, go for it, it works!

Most of the clips hail from a 1959 badfilm obscurity that I mainly knew from an evocative old Famous Monsters of Filmland cover (that made it look far better than it ever could be). In some parts of the world it was called HOT IN PARADISE, or, variously, IT’S HOT IN PARADISE, but in a more descriptive moniker is became HORRORS OF SPIDER ISLAND.

Struck with Artful Dodger mania (I’m told they’re rather good, another Cleveland combo that never broke big like they deserved to, damn town. No wonder LeBron left), I downloaded HORRORS OF SPIDER ISLAND in all its MPEG glory. Wow, I am speechless. Sort of a West German-Yugoslavia badly-dubbed horror take on what would be a 1959 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Plot has eight dancers/strippers and one male manager en route to a Singapore cabaret gig surviving a plane crash and getting marooned on a uranium-tainted Pacific island.

(Just from seeing a hammer lying around, the guy's boss deduces that there’s a uranium deposit. The girls ask if it’s edible. I think I would have liked to have been around in those days, would’ve increased my chances of getting a job. Today such women get hired over me.)

Possibly because of the uranium, the island has a population of mutant foot-long puppet spiders. On one hot night when the girls are all stripping their clothes off to sleep, the lone man is unlucky enough to be bitten by one (spider, I mean). He mutates into a furry-faced fiend with clawlike hands and only three fangs. From time to time he stalks and kills other humans on the island, but not really all that much, as a few sailors come ashore as well, flirt with the girls and have a bikini dance party before the denouement, telegraphed by this video as [SPOILER ALERT, LIKE YOU CARE] involving the freakish killer perishing in quicksand.

Let’s see, radioactive spider-bite produces human mutation, sort of like a “spider-man,” hmm… I know Cleveland filmmakers who, merely based on that, would definitely file lawsuits against Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and Sony/Columbia, Marvel industries, and Brian Michael Bendis, demanding archipelagos of cash for ripping them off on this junk. But director Fritz Bottger, using the pseudonym Jaime Nolan (don't trust showbiz folk who change their names) never did so, to my knowledge. Really though, it’s a horrible horror effort that I heard got a deserved “Mystery Science Theater” treatment. Well, at least the Eastern-European actresses are pretty in the 1950s voluptuous tradition, and I do hope most of them dropped out of acting to pursue more decent and honorable careers. Like being Cold War honey traps for the KGB or Stasi or something.

In fact, blonde, Valkyresque Barbara Valentin, in her first major role here, rose to some fame as Austria’s answer to Marilyn Monroe. Fraulein Valentin later appeared regularly in the cinema of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, more evidence of my favorite conspiracy theory that there is no such thing as homosexuality, just unappealing movie- and stage-musical-nerd guys such as Fassbinder pretending to be gay so that women who look like Barbara Valentin feel comfortable hanging out with them (and you LGBT poseurs are really going to amend the Constitution for gay marriage to keep up the ruse? I've done stupid things for love myself that I'll regret the rest of my life too, just warning you).

Barbara Valentin was also a high-profile lover of rock superstar Freddy Mercury, but I am given to understand she was banned from attending his funeral. Perhaps Brian May found a VHS of this just before the ceremony. See girls, those embarrassing early movie roles WILL come back to haunt you.

Strangely enough, the roll call of clips listed at the end of the Artful Dodger video doesn’t visibly note HORRORS OF SPIDER ISLAND. Maybe even that band doesn’t want anybody to see it (or Barbara Valentin is now universally disliked by musicians; Yoko Ono can’t get all the haters). But anyway, it sets a local-music movie-mashup high-water mark for me, and perhaps someday I’ll try to challenge it with something from the Kwiklees or something. 

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