We review a lot of B-movies here, so i figured its time to tackle some of the most famous ones, and one can hardly go more typical and emblematic than stuff like Attack Of The Crab Monsters, of course directed and produced by Roger Corman, the king of 50s b-movies himself, for a double feature release alongside Not Of This Earth, both movies written by Corman’s trusted screenwriter, Charles B. Griffith, also behind later films like A Bucket Of Blood or Little Shop Of Horrors.
And you can already tell these movies were engineered for the drive-ins and the double-feature show, because they are both very short, Attack Of The Crab Monsters being the shorter one, barely clocking in over 60 minutes.
So it’s no wonder the plot is also very thin and fast to describe, as it concerns a scientific expedition to a remote Pacific island sent to investigate what happened to the crew of the first expedition. As the group finds out, the island is inhabited by a pair of mutated radioactive giant crabs that not only ate the people sent on the first expedition, but also absorbed their minds and plan to reproduce their kind to beef up their population. Which might or might not need to involve a human woman.
Oh, and the crabs also have the ability to speak telephatically using the voices of their victims, as they’re basically able to absorb anything into them and get their abilities and minds. Why shouldn’t they, after all?
Yeah, it’s a nice little twist, of course you would guess that the monsters are giant crabs since the title (or the poster) gives that away, but you wouldn’t expect them to be plotting against the new crew by using the voices of the victims to telephatically lure them to their death and their brain to cut off powerlines and methodically destroy any means for calling help. They are almost slasher villains, as in they deliberately single the victims out, even taunt and kill them with a sharp instrument (in this case their claws), but not quite because they are giant radioactive crabs. XD
Speaking of which, the monsters themselves are not shown in full 40 minutes in, as you might expect, but aside from the goofy eyes and the obvious dated quality of the special effects, they don’t look that bad, all things considered. But of course this is Corman, so it’s still a cheap production, and sometimes it’s just laughable, like how the french botanist Jules (classic B-movie character) manages to lose an entire hand like it was made of paper maciè, as a single rock cleanly cuts it off.
And apparently the crab monsters have the ability to generate “heat blasts” and they use it to basically level and destroy the island bit by bit, but you never see this power play out directly, as clearly they didn’t have either the time or budget to pull it off, so like most of the killing it happens off-screen. You do get to see the woman scientist faint for a brief quake, because 50s, of course.
Then again, the script doesn’t address how the fuck the plane blows up when leaving the islands, because the crabs didn’t do it, unless they had an invisible sea-air bazooka launcher ability, but aside from that the script itself isn’t too bad and manages to do a lot with the ideas, even if the budget constrainsts means lots of to-and-fro between house interiors and Bronson Caves.
The characters aren’t that bad, surprisingly, even if the accents are kinda random and some quick exposition will have to explain exactly who they are, in what field of science they specialize and what other reason/purpose they have on the island, aside from finding out what happened to the first expedition, because it’s quite the short flick, so there isn’t much time, but on the upside this helps in keeping the narration moving along at a good pace without much boring downtime and easily to the… admittely kinda abrupt finale, with the 1-day romance couple holding each other.
Oddly, one of Roger Corman’s pupils and a shlockmaister in its own right, Jim Wynorski, wanted to remake it at some point, but oddly Corman said no, because he quite liked the original movie as it was and didn’t feel like a remake was needed. And i agree, it’s a classic B-movie from the Corman factory, if you will, classic drive-in cheese but with some wit to its ridiculous premise.