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Saturday 7 April 2012

Burl reviews Attack of the Crab Monsters! (1957)

It’s Burl, calling in at you through the window in a ghostly manner! Ha ha, you already know from my review of Island Claws that I love a giant crab picture! There aren’t too many out there, just the aforementioned Claws and this one, Roger Corman’s Attack of the Crab Monsters! And I guess Mysterious Island contains a giant crab scene, but I wouldn’t include that in the microgenre, myself!
I’m pretty surprised that old Roger hasn’t remade this movie as part of his ongoing series of giant CGI monster movies like DinoOctoCroc-O-Shark and suchlike! But I’m also glad, because those remakes always tend to sully their inspirations just a little bit, as we know from the Bucket of Blood redux of his, and also of course Humanoids From the Deep and Piranha!
This picture has a script by the great Charles Griffith, who also wrote A Bucket of Blood and many other excellent movies! It’s got a lot of Griffithian quirks in it, namely that these are not just giant voracious crabs, but giant voracious crabs who absorb their victims’ personalities and speak back in their voices at odd hours of the night! They’re also tunneling beneath the remote South Pacific island on which the movie is set, collapsing it bit by bit into the sea to force their intended victims onto ever-shrinking promontories! Ha ha, I think that’s a brilliant way for a tiny-budgeted movie to create a sense of large-scale menace without spending a whole lot of shekels! But that’s Chuck Griffith for you!
I mentioned in the review of The Strange World of Planet X that I’m pretty terrified of big bugs! Well, ha ha, the same holds true of giant crabs! I’d hate to be dragged into one of their crab holes to be leisurely devoured by their totally alien, disgustingly Lovecraftian mouths! I’d hopefully go into some kind of state of shock, barely able to laugh much less remain alert and aware of what was going on! Attack of the Crab Monsters taps into these fears somewhat – there is after all a scene of a crab munching down on someone – but not as much as it might have done! I suppose it’s fair to say that the sentience of the crabs dilutes the primal terror they would otherwise evoke!
But that’s a pretty minor complaint! Otherwise, Attack of the Crab Monsters is an effective low-budget creature feature, more complex and intelligent than most, and if maybe the monsters themselves aren’t as scary as they could have been, well, you can’t have it all! We do after all get Mel Welles doing an accent, and that’ll improve any picture! I give Attack of the Crab Monsters three blood-stained undershirts!

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