Sunday, January 12, 2020
Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)
From its title alone, Attack of the Crab Monster is an alluring prospect, but then you see its poster, and are are filled with even more excitement!...And then trepidation, because 1950s b-movies rarely live/d up to their posters. How does this 1957 Roger Corman film rank? Well...
A team of scientists and sailors are sent to a remote island to report the aftereffects of nuclear testing. They find no trace of the last research team, who mysteriously disappeared. Things get off to a disturbing start when a crewmember is is killed, and their plane back home is destroyed. Resigned to studying whatever's on the island until help comes, the team is slowly picked off one by one by an unseen force, luring them out like a siren. That's not the only danger either, as the island is gradually getting smaller and smaller, and the group are running out of space, trapped with monsters more terrifying than they can imagine...
Attack of the Crab Monsters gets off to a very quick start, and if not for them being stranded, you imagine the heroes would probably leave as soon as possible! Things soon slow down to a decent pace
The most notable thing about this film is how bizarre it is! This is not just about giant mutant crabs, but intelligent giant crabs. Yep, that means they talk...but not the way you think! They talk through the voices of the dead after absorbing the minds of those they kill! I don't know who it was who suggested that idea (yes actually I do)
These add but there are two problems The first is that the movie is otherwise a typical 1950s b-movie, with all the typical cliches, and these fantastic ideas are never really given the attention they deserve. And secondly? Well, giant talking crabs is one thing, but giant talking crabs with French accents? It's a little too much on the goofy side! The film becomes pretty hard to take seriously in such moments. If only it leant a bit more into being a comedy, rather than being so serious
The story is pretty standard. Isolated island, nuclear tests, giant monsters, etc, and there are never any twists or turns. The science is hilariously questionable, and this mostly explains why the crabs are so invulnerable. Bullets and bombs do nothing, but blades can, and electricity turns it to ash faster than you can blink. The weirdest thing is how the island keeps falling to pieces after the crabs dynamite it. I didn't know dynamite was that strong! Or giant crabs for that matter/
The characters here are unimportant, and all pretty interchangeable. The only ones of note are Jules, and the comedy sailors. Given they're the film's comic relief, I thought for sure they'd be ok, but actually they die about halfway through! The film's quite the bloodbath, and you never really get enough time to know anybody before they get eaten. The protagonist and lady are alright, but nothing special, and you're not exactly enthused when they're the last ones standing.
Where the movie excels is in its effects. The giant crabs look great! Cheesy, especially the eyes, but they actually look like crabs, and they actually look giant. The movie follows the 'rule of Jaws', so we see very little of the monster for a good chunk of the movie. In some ways this ads to their mystique and the tension, but it also detracts. We know we're watching a movie about giant grabs. They're even on the poster! Just show us! Building tension is one thing, but it's over half an hour into an hour long film before we see them, and I was beginning to get impatient by that point.
The acting is all fine. The most distinctive is Mel Welles with a French accent. No-one is really given the material to do any interesting performances though, minus the actors who portray the 'crabs' voices.
Overall, Attack of the Crab Monsters lives up to its titles in some ways, but not in others. I certainly recommend watching this, as there's nothing terrible about it, and its more unique qualities make it stand out in a sea of pictures