Friday, 25 September 2015

Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)

Yes you read it correctly, we are really plumbing the B-movie depths here with this little beauty. Attack of the crab monsters huh, just when you thought they had used every known bug and fishy-type thing possible, they throw this at you, what's next...lobsters, ahem! Yes its yet another 1957 flick, the year of the giant creature feature, and yet again the movies poster is completely bullshit, at no point does a female get grabbed by a giant crab like that. You notice every one of these giant creature B-movies has an almost identical poster layout.

Believe it or not this movie is actually a Roger Corman offering. Maybe not so surprising seeing as this Hollywood legend has seemingly been around forever, making movies in all genres and having worked with everyone. In all honesty I was a bit surprised as I didn't realise Corman went back this far into the 50's giant bug phenomenon.

Plot wise its a bit different than the usual fair, not as straight forward as you might expect. OK...first off the basic premise is what you would expect, a team of scientists are sent to a remote Pacific island to look for the last team that went missing. At the same time they are also following on with the research into the effect of radiation in the area after nuclear bomb testing (of course). Naturally some giant mutated crabs ate the last team (shocking), and are a result of the bomb testing (you don't say). The interesting and bizarre twist comes in the fact that these crabs absorb the minds of their victims and are able to telepathically communicate with other living humans. When this happens the telepathic messages from the crabs are in the voices of the dead victims that have been eaten. So not only is this a giant creature feature, its also a weird kind of spiritual ghost story of sorts, well that's the way it comes across at times.

Now its clear to see this movie was made on a small budget, the fact its a Corman movie means you can bet your bottom Dollar it was probably made for a pittance. What gives this notion away? well for a start there is nothing to look at, no fancy sets, no lovely locations, no swish props or costumes etc...nothing. It was clearly shot on the coast in America somewhere and inside a small hut for the most part, probably a basic set was used. 

The giant crabs in question also look pretty terrible it must be said. Yes they do have some decent scale to them, they are large mechanical puppets that do look like crabs and the actors are able to interact with them. The problem being they obviously don't move too well, they tend to just sit in one place and move the odd limb around in jerky motions. The other problem being they have two large humanoid eyes, why would you do this?? it looks ridiculous. This has happened in other giant bug movies before, giving the creature humanoid eyes which in turn gives the creature a face, emotions, something you don't wanna see on a large killing machine. What's more these eyes look dreadful! big pupils, big eyelids and they almost look like they have eyelashes, they make the creature look like a giant child's toy. Seriously what were they thinking?!

Speaking of eyes, the lead female character (played by Pamela Duncan) sports some incredibly obvious and large fake eyebrows. Seriously these things look like they've been painted on with a thick brush and look totally out of proportion, its quite absurd really. As for the cast and their acting skills, well, there's not much to say really. We've seen this type of acting in all these big bug B-movies, its a very formulaic type of performance which doesn't really tend to change much. The characters are all the same too, the handsome lead, the older scientist, the attractive female and a few other blokes that are essentially monster fodder. The only difference here is the inclusion of a French character, it doesn't add anything really, other than a different accent to listen to.

In general, I didn't like this movie, the plot is just weird with all the telepathic nonsense going on. Other plot explanations just don't make any sense either, like how on earth these crabs manage to create earthquakes on the island, and why, but mainly how. Apparently the crabs want to reach the mainland so they can eat more humans and absorb their minds, no clue why they would wanna do this, or how this benefits them, but there you go. It feels more like an alien invasion sci-fi flick with all this talk of absorbing human minds, mind you (no pun intended), the film is atmospheric at times I'll give it that. There were moments when it did feel a bit creepy, especially with the haunting telepathic messages and the clicking noise the crabs make. There was also the odd bit of gore too, a decapitation and the loss of a hand, don't get too over excited though.