"Kay Hoog finds a message in a bottle floating near San Francisco. The message tells about a hidden Incan city filled with gold and gives the location for finding it. Intrigued, Kay tells his yacht club that he's going to find it. Later, Lia Sha, also a member of the club and the mysterious Spiders, steals the map and sets off for Peru, with Kay not far behind.Thus, begins the Indiana Jones-like adventure which leads from Peru to a hidden city beneath San Francisco to a deadly cave in the Falkland Islands. "Spiders" from German director Fritz Lang, contains the first two parts of what was to be a 4-part serial. It's not the greatest of all adventure stories and has quite a few plot holes, but it's easy to see the influence it has on many of the adventure films of today. And, the acting is not bad, either.The DVD transfers are scratchy but still very viewable. Not many extras, though."
Great Adventure, Poor DVD Package
D. Ross | San Francisco, Ca United States | 03/06/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Apparently there's no decent surviving prints of The Spiders so it would be difficult to determine just how successful the restoration was back in the 70s. I would dare say though, that a more modern digital restoration could be done today and think personally that this is a significant enough film to deserve the full digital restoration treatment. Be that as it may, the restoration is very watchable and the fact that the film had been found at all and fixed up by David and Kim Shepard is impressive.
I'm a fan of the early adventure pulps and of cliffhanger serials. So it was great to actually see Fritz Lang's early contribution towards these ends. The story has been gone over by several reviews and easily found online. I just want to urge viewers to not be put off on the fact that it is silent (with an original organ score that sometimes verges on cheesy Casio sounds, but tends to hold on to its dignity) because the great visuals Lang is famous for, and fun action adventure should be able to keep most audiences captivated.
If you are a fan of Gunga Din, Indiana Jones and the more exotic pulp adventures of Edgar Rice Burroughs or Talbot Mundy, I can't imagine you will not find this to be a great treasure chest of iconic pulp and cliffhanger-type imagery.
The reason I don't give this five stars is solely based on the Image Entertainment release, because I think the price of this single DVD with no extras is exorbitant to say the least. Outside of the fact that this was a rare film to find and restore (which has nothing to do with Image themselves), the Criterion-esque price tag does not reflect any value-added properties as you would find on a Criterion release, and in fact is closer to something you'd find from Alpha Video, meaning extremely bare bones. At the very least, a commentary track by the Shepards or a film historian would have been interesting and added some extra value to justify $30 for a single disc.
It might be wishful thinking to get a better release anytime in the near future, so either do like me and take the hit to the wallet for the Image release from amazon or patiently search a less expensive means of finding it, like amazon's merchant-shops or other online auction sites, etc. Or if you don't mind VHS, that is easily found for under $5."
More sophisticated that you would think
bernie | Arlington, Texas | 07/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is part one and two of the earliest surviving film directed by Frits Lang, part one "The Golden Lake" (1919) his third feature film, and part two "The Diamond Ship". Part three "The Secret of the Sphinx" and part four "For Asia's imperial Crown" were never made.
Exotic sets and designs from the Ethnological Museum of Hamburg, in cooperation with Heinrich Umlauff.
A man looking under the weather looks like he is escaping on an island. If his desperate attempt for help he sends a message written in blood, in a bottle in to the sea. As he tosses it he is dispatched by an Inca arrow.
The message comes into the possession of Kay Hoog (Carl de Vogt) rich sportsman and adventurer. The message tells of Inca gold in a remote location. Overhearing this is Lio Sha (Ressel Orla). That night the note is pilfered by a mysterious organization "The Spiders". Now the race is on to see whom gets the gold.
The journey will take us over many exotic lands and introduce us to sun loving, blood thirsty Incas. There may even be a chance for romance.
As with many serials the end may just be the beginning. See part two "The Diamond Ship".
In part two Kay Hoog who previously captured the secret of the Diamond Ship from the mysterious cabal "The spiders" has sworn revenge on Lio Sha for transgressions made in part one.
While the Spiders seek a diamond shaped while the head of Buddha for their own nefarious purposes. Kay seeks to spoil their plot. Again we get to go to exotic places leading to the Falkland Islands. Fortunately this time enough loose ends are sufficiently wrapped up so we do not have to wait for part three (which will never come.)
The birth of the cinematic gentleman adventurer
Erik Hauke Tĝnnesen | Bergen, Norway | 04/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I finally got hold of this, and even if it is the oldest of Lang's films to survive (he made two before this), it was the last of his German made films that I saw. The films (there are indeed two films, The Golden Lake and The Diamond Ship)are high adventure, in the best tradition of Jules Verne and Arthur Conan Doyle. As our gentleman adventurer shoots, rides, swims, wades and balloons himself towards his goal, Lang utilizes every trick in the book (he didn't get the memo that says "Silents must be boring") to hold his viewers. For anybody that enjoys the politically incorrect adventure tales of the Victorian and Edwardian ages, as well as the Orientalist and art nouveau-ish design of the pre-WW2 upper classes. This film is a must.
I have seldom seen a film of this age holding up so well. I absolutely agree with the reviewer that wanted this film re-restored. A gem of the Weimar cinema."
Not top-notch Lang but still interesting
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 10/15/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The earliest known surviving film directed by Fritz Lang, this two-part serial, originally intended as a four-parter, isn't exactly a shining example of either Lang or silent cinema as its finest, but it is interesting enough story-wise, as well as having some pretty impressive sets and good acting. Film was really in a transitional state in the late Teens and early Twenties, moving from the more simplistic plots and overly dramatic acting styles popular in the early years of silent features to the more mature and complex types of films that emerged in the next phase of silent cinema. This film in particular really does seem like a precursor of sorts to Indiana Jones. It opens with an old man sending out a message in a bottle just before he is murdered, and we come to find out that he was a Harvard professor who was taken prisoner by Incas who still practice human sacrifice. When this news reaches the story's hero, millionaire adventurer Kay Hoog, he calls off his involvement in an upcoming yacht race in favor of going off in search of the vast treasure the professor said these Incas have. At the same time that his party sets out, the criminal organisation the Spiders also sends out a party (after having attacked Kay when they discovered his plans), since they want the treasure for themselves. The adventure continues in South America and back into Europe, and then into other exotic locales such as India and the Falkland Islands. Along the way there are a lot of action sequences, mind control, kidnappings, the search for a lost diamond, a love triangle, and intrigue.
However, because this was made when film was at a transitional period, and Lang was just learning his craft, it doesn't exactly come across as a great story. The pacing can be really uneven (such as how a number of intertitles are along the lines of "Two days later" and "Five weeks later," as well as how some rather important events, such as Kay being overpowered by the Spiders and thrown into a cell, never happen onscreen but instead are relayed via intertitle), coupled with a lot of ridiculous and implausible plot twists, such as the passenger pigeon conveniently just outside of Four-Finger John's window who then just as conveniently flies to the ship where the rest of the Spiders are, the love at first sight between Kay and the Incan priestess, the diamond's alleged power to free Asia from foreign tyranny, and the poisonous gas that comes up just in time to enable Kay's escape from the Spiders when they're holding him hostage at one point. Part Two seems to be better than Part One, though it ends rather abruptly (albeit after tying up some of the more important plot points), almost in media res. If the third and fourth installments had been made, it probably could have been a much more satisfying and entertaining viewing experience. The print isn't exactly wonderful, but I've seen a lot worse, and we should be grateful that any print of such a rare film, long presumed lost, still exists at all instead of pedantically complaining that it wasn't crystal-clear and didn't have the utmost restoration done."