Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)

“We are dealing with a man who is dead, but whose voice and memory live — how this can be, I do not know, but its implications are far more terrible than any ghost could be.”

Attack Crab Monsters Poster

Synopsis:
A group of scientists studying the effects of nuclear testing on an island find themselves pursued by giant mind-controlling crabs.

Genres:

Review:
Maverick B-director Roger Corman made no less than nine films in 1957 — including this infamously titled mutant monster flick, featuring mind-controlling styrofoam crabs. The acting is just as campy as you might imagine from such a low-budget venture, with Pamela Duncan’s terrible performance as the busty female marine scientist “Dr. Martha Hunter” particularly noteworthy and giggle-inducing — and the dialogue is equally ludicrous:

Crab Monster: “So you have wounded me! I must grow a new claw, well and good, for I can do it in a day — but will you grow new lives when I have taken yours from you?”

Meanwhile, the storyline is simply too ridiculous to take seriously on any level, with atomically-charged crabs channeling the minds of the humans they’ve devoured through metal objects (?!). Despite such ludicrous plot devices, however, the story as a whole is surprisingly dull, especially in comparison with screenwriter Charles B. Griffith’s deliciously satirical collaboration with Corman two years later — 1959’s A Bucket of Blood. Only true fans of low-grade sci-fi need to bother checking this one out.

P.S. Fans of Gilligan’s Island will surely be thrilled to see “The Professor” (Russell Johnson) in a key role here; note in particular his final heroic act — very “Professor-worthy”.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Ridiculously campy performances and special effects
    Attack Crab Monster PerformancesAttack Crab Monster Special EffectsAttack Crab Axe
  • Plenty of chuckle-worthy dialogue: “Once, they were men; now, they are crabs.”

Must See?
No, but diehard Corman fans won’t want to miss it. Listed as a Camp Classic in the back of Peary’s book.

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One Response to “Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)”

  1. For the average ff, a once-must as a camp classic.

    Screenwriter Charles B. Griffith has written ‘better’ scripts for Corman (‘Not of This Earth’, ‘The Undead’, ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ among them), but this is still a deliriously entertaining romp. I call it a once-must cause (tho I’ve seen it several times) it doesn’t really have that extra ‘certain something’ that might have you going back to it for more. Nevertheless, it’s goofy enough to not miss: the dialogue (!), performances (!), and sound effects (particularly the approaching crab noises which sound more like a lot of cracked crab being snacked on) combine for something slightly surreal and mind-numbing, yet fun as only the ‘better’ Corman films can be.

    The most amusing element here is that the Crab Monster (there’s only one, right?, my mind was a little numb, as indicated) ‘talks’. A lot. And has wonderfully wacky things to say.

    Fave bit: late in the picture, there is a brief ‘love interest’ moment in the dialogue which is quickly curtailed by danger. Charming.

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