Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Attack of the Crab Monsters, Trash Talking Crustaceans

1957's "Attack of the Crab Monsters" may be considered one of the original B Movies.  Large creatures, imaginative but inexpensive f/x, a damsel in peril, scientists wishing to communicate with a creature, and a love triangle are ingredients in this Roger Corman concoction.  Some really cheesy one-liners and a menacing musical score effectively elevate this work to B Movie classic level.  Pamela Duncan and Richard Garland play scientists who battle giant crabs and fall in love.  Russell Johnson (the professor in "Gilligan's Island) plays Hank, a technician guessed it....tinkers with a radio to find some reception.
The plot:  After a scientific expedition mysteriously disappears from a newly discovered Pacific atoll, a second team is sent in to figure out what happened to them.  This new team gets off to a rocky (....or crabby) start when a seaman falls into the surf.  When this unfortunate sailor is pulled back into the rowboat, his head is no longer attached to his body (see picture below).  No one is too concerned about this tragic event, reminiscent of those Star Trek crew members who beam down to a planet with Kirk and Spock only to get eaten or vaporized.  One of the lead scientists does muse that "I hope that man's death is not an omen of things to come."  Nah!  Who would think that?  Soon our team learns that earthquakes plague the island and no animal life is present except for crabs.
As the scientists begin to explore the island strange discoveries are made.  Marty (Duncan) sees strange happenings when she dives off shore, and the other scientists find a mysterious pit infested with crabs.  After all of them retire for the evening, both Marty and another scientist hear the voice of the lead scientist from the first expedition.  This disembodied voice beckons them to the crab pit, which then swallows the scientist after Marty faints.  Dale comes to Marty's rescue and the two begin to fall in love.....much to the displeasure of the radio technician (Johnson).  When more of the expedition are lured to the pit they too are consumed by it.  The remaining scientists are then victimized by the disembodied voices, which beckon them to the pit.  When Marty, Dale, the professor, and Marianne (just kidding, she isn't in this movie) head over there, they are met by giant talking crabs.  These crabs want the rest of them.  The scientists fight back and blow the claw off the crab leader, only to be taunted by this grouchy (or crabby) crustacean, "I can grow a new claw in a day, but can you grow new lives when I take them from you."
Marty, Dale, and the professor then devise a bold plan to steam these crabs.  The three head to the pit one more time for a final showdown.  Of course, these intellectual crustaceans (...I love that word) are waiting.  Will Dale end up with Marty before she ends up a crab (is this Roger Corman's metaphor for all of our romantic relationships)?  Will the professor ever learn to fix a radio, or is he destined for loneliness on a deserted island?  "Attack of the Crab Monsters" is required viewing for anyone seeking to create a B Movie.  100% enjoyable for a Saturday night with your spouse as you curl up on a comfortable sofa and sip an ambitious Pinot Noir.  Your homework assignment today is to use the word "crustacean" four times over the next hour.  Have fun!

1 comment:

  1. I saw phrases like "love triangle," and "mysterious pit infested with crabs," and for some reason thought this was a documentary about me- I mean, a FRIEND of mine in college. I hope our heroes had a good shampoo and forgiving significant others!