A group of scientists have traveled to an island in the middle of nowhere, where they hope to study the effects of nuclear testing on the environment. But when they have some airplane trouble, they’re stranded on the island.
Things only seem to get worse from there. The island is plagued with rock avalanches and seems to be slowly crumbling into the ocean.
Making the most of their situation (and probably distracting themselves from their fear), the team gets to work on their research… but they soon discover that there’s a huge threat to their lives inhabiting the island. The crabs of this remote island have mutated into enormous, highly intelligent creatures who even have the ability to imitate human speech!
Will any of the scientists be able to escape the horrible wrath of the crab monsters?
Roger Corman directs 1957’s Attack of the Crab Monsters. Richard Garland, Pamela Duncan, Russell Johnson, Leslie Bradley, Mel Welles and Richard Cutting star in this corny little piece of sci-fi wonder. The film’s screenplay was written by Charles B. Griffith (The Little Shop of Horrors).
I wasn’t sure if Attack of the Crab Monsters would be a bonafide Classic of the Corn when I began watching it. The animation in the opening credits is legitimately wonderful. The style reminds me of paper cut-out art, which seems more fitting to a whimsical film about a family of anthropomorphic crabs than a sci-fi thriller about killer crabs but served as a great eye-catcher to kick off the film regardless.
After the credits roll, the corn begins. Narration proclaims, “And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created…” in a voice very reminiscent of C.W. McCall’s “Aurora Borealis.” Having grown up listening to C.W. McCall’s greatest hits album on camping trips, this made the narration absolutely hilarious to me, despite its message of doom.
As one would expect from a late-’50s creature feature, the special effects in this movie are ten kinds of awesome in terms of corn. The enormous crab monsters seem to be constructed from a paper mache-esque material. The fact that huge paper mache crabs are attacking people and eating them is incredibly comical.
Adding to the comedy of the situation is the fact that these crabs really don’t look scary at all. They could have been terrifying paper mache crabs, but they aren’t. If you’re scared of normally-sized crabs these beasts might freak you out, but I actually find them kind of adorable. I think it’s the large, squinty eyes that get me.
We don’t actually see much of the monsters throughout the film — just an eye here, a grasping claw there — but that probably works in the film’s favor considering how silly-looking they are. I personally would have liked to see more of them because the design of them is so wonderfully campy, but shrouding the monster in mystery lends the film some semblance of actual suspense at times.
The film sometimes feels a tad slow but it does have plenty of your typical sci-fi cheese. It follows the “creature feature” formula to a tee, from the “scientists stuck in a remote place” premise to the attempt at romantic subplot to the over-abundance of pseudo-scientific information spewed by the characters.
Attack of the Crab Monsters is a very typically creature feature, but that also means it’s a very fun way to spend 62 minutes of your time.