Colin Timothy Gagnon (sacredspud) wrote,
Colin Timothy Gagnon

31 Days of Halloween: Attack of the Crab Monsters

You have to hand it to Roger Corman: every one of his movies is in some way exceptional. Every single one.

Consider 1957's Attack of the Crab Monsters. Corman went to his frequent collaborator, writer Charles Griffith, and said (and I'm pretty sure this is a direct quote)1 "'sup Chuck! Remember how you were talking about human drama and deep, complex characters? I want a movie without ANY of that. Seriously. I want an explosion or a fistfight or some kind of scare in every scene. Also, radioactive mutated crabs." And Mr. Griffith delivered.

In all seriousness, Corman apparently requested a script packed with action and suspense and devoid of dull spots, and Griffith complied knowing that Corman would just axe the slow scenes anyway. The result is short, tight, weird and exciting. I have a tendency to be forgiving when an entertaining film doesn't ask much of its audience, and I give this one a thumbs up; it's only 62 minutes long and you can watch it on Netflix. When the stakes are so low, why not just watch the movie?

Attack of the Crab Monsters takes place on an island in the Pacific where a team of scientists has disappeared. A new team is sent out to determine what happened to them, and to carry on their work; namely, the study the effects of nuclear radiation on the island's ecosystem. What they discover is that the island is populated by giant crabs who have mutated in such a way that their bodies are now made of pure energy. Not only that, but the crabs have eaten the original team who now live on as psychic impulses within the "bodies" of the crabs.

I don't think I can do this story justice without painstakingly going over the details. The story is completely implausible, but it's also incredibly strange. I can only imagine how the moms of 1957 listened patiently as Junior tried to explain the nonsensical plot: "so when one of the crabs eats a guy, it absorbs the electrical impulses of his brain, and his consciousness becomes part of the crab. And he starts working against his former colleagues because preservation of the species dictates that..."

...and so on.


They don't make movies like this anymore, partly because modern audiences would never accept such bad science2, but mostly because they never made movies like this. Which probably explains why Attack of the Crab Monsters did so well at the box office. On a budget of $70,000, it grossed about $1 million. Those are modest numbers for Hollywood, even by the standards of 1957, but when the stakes are so low, why not just make the movie?

Click here for the trailer.

1It's not.
2Actually, we probably would.
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