ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS (1957) – The Dungeon Review!
It is not easy to avoid Roger Corman when watching horror films from the Eisenhower years. I believe this is the fourth Corman flick I have reviewed during this feature. Corman is on as director in Attack of the Crab Monsters. Attack of the Crab Monsters is a lot of fun with its outrageous premise and hokey effects. But the film also has some genuinely admirable qualities and some decent performances too. Most importantly though, it has what you came for; giant crabs! And not just any giant crabs, but giant crabs that enjoy snacking on delicious human brains!
I usually write my own plot summary but the words that appear on screen at the beginning of Attack of the Crab Monsters says it so well…
“You are about to land in a lonely zone of terror..on an uncharted atoll in the Pacific. You are part of the second scientific expedition dispatched to this mysterious bit of coral reef and volcanic rock. The first group disappeared without a trace! Your job is to find out why! There have been rumors about this strange atoll..frightening rumors about happenings way out beyond the laws of nature…”
They are WAY out beyond the laws of nature alright! It goes without saying there is a radiation theme here but I’m not going to spoil all the fun for you. I can not however get away with not discussing the films crab monsters when I am reviewing a film called Attack of the Crab Monsters! Crabs plus radiation obvious equals trouble! But these particular radiated crabs possess an extra special ability. These crabs can incorporate a human being’s personality and thoughts! There is an array of peculiar little details that come along with this that I will not spoiler for you! Prepare yourself for science fiction chaos as the crab monsters pick off characters one by one! As is often the case, the giant monsters move in a most unnatural way, but it is really the eyes that give this particular monster its touch of hokey. At least the creature does look like a crab, which puts it ahead of some of its peers. There is no disputing the cheesiness of these creatures but they are nonetheless a shitload of fun.
Despite its cheesier qualities Attack of the Crab Monsters manages to maintain a sense of dread. Several people are killed before the team of scientists even gets settled in on the “strange atoll”! One man even gets decapitated! The Island is frighteningly quiet, and seems completely devoid of even animal life (with the exception of an abundance of normal sized land crabs). And if that isn’t enough, the island they are on is getting smaller and smaller! Corman keeps things pretty lively throughout. There are even a few well executed suspense scenes. The crab monsters are their most active at night. The night settings add atmosphere to the proceedings and helped to camouflage the films lesser qualities.
The team of scientists consists of nuclear physicist Dr. Karl Weigand, geologist Dr. James Carson, Botanist Jules Deveroux, and biologists Martha Hunter and Dale Brewer. Also along for the trip is technician and handyman Hank Chapman. The cast are actually pretty good and they give genuine performances despite the material. I was particularly fond of Dr. Karl Weigand who almost made me believe his bizarre theory. Fun fact (you can add this to that file in your brain that stores seemingly useless trivia); technician extraordinaire Hank Chapman is played by Russell Johnson who also starred in the sci-fi features This Island Earth and It Came from Outer Space but is best known as the Professor on Gilligan’s Island.
Attack of the Crab Monsters has it all! Hokey giant monsters, suspense, thrills and a few laughs for good measure! Attack of the Crab Monsters is downright entertaining. Recommended!
Dungeon Rating: 3.5/5
Directed By: Roger Corman
Starring: Richard Garland, Pamela Duncan, Russell Johnson, Leslie Bradley, Mel Welles, Richard H. Cutting, Beach Dickerson, Tony Miller, Ed Nelson, Maitland Stuart, Charles B. Griffith