Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Attack of the Crab Monsters

Attack of the Crab MonstersCinema Monolith: 4/10 This film is part of the Cinema Monolith collection!
IMDb: 4.8/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: ** out of 4

Released on February 10, 1957
Not rated
62 minutes

Directed by Roger Corman

Written by Charles B. Griffith

Cast: Richard Garland, Pamela Duncan, Russell Johnson, Leslie Bradley, Mel Welles, Richard H. Cutting, Beach Dickerson, Tony Miller, Ed Nelson, Charles B. Griffith, Maitland Stuart, and David Arvedon as Hoolar the Giant Crab

When the movie you’re watching starts off with a man toppling over the side of an inflatable raft just ten feet from shore, and he’s pulled back aboard missing his head, you know you’re in for a wild, no-holds-barred ride. And trust me, it was definitely wild…I don’t know where this vintage Roger Corman monster sci-fi ranks with fans when compared to other Corman-directed productions, but for me it sits in the Top 3, along with the excellent Not of This Earth and the guilty pleasure It Conquered the World.

I thought it was interesting that there were so many things to ponder in just the first few minutes, besides that sailor suffering from a sudden onset of decapitation. First, there was the question of a previous expedition to the island, and where they disappeared to, along with those shots of land crabs scurrying along the shoreline…hmmm. And then, most disconcerting of all, a disembodied voice calling out for help, over and over again. Well, if I didn’t know better, I’d say nuclear fallout + crabs + Roger Corman = Attack of the Crab Monsters.

The first H-bomb test has sent a cloud of radioactive fallout over a small Pacific atoll, blanketing the island with radioactivity. A group of scientists, part of a second expedition to the island, arrive there to study the negative effects of the fallout, and hopefully discover what happened to that first expedition. Soon they find themselves trapped and fighting for their lives, battling giant mutant crabs who have the ability to snip off a human’s head, ingest it, then absorb the brain into its own system, giving itself the power to think and talk as that person.

Mind-blowing ideas indeed, but Corman really knew what he was doing: competent direction with some nicely-composed widescreen shots, nightmare monsters that were seen—and heard—many times throughout the film, and a fairly exciting and cerebral story, all squeezed into 62 minutes of pure, unadulterated, low-budget cheese. Some witty asides were spoken here and there, and Russell Johnson foreshadowed his future as an island professor, but best of all, we were able to see the buxom lead actress, Pamela Duncan, wearing a form-fitting top throughout the entire film!

What also helped was how Corman kept the pace swift and the ideas compelling; as he told screenwriter Charles B. Griffith, “I want suspense or action in every scene.” And though it was a silly concept overall, at least those involved tried to keep things serious and smart, while adding a touch of humor into the mix as well. For me, it was unintentionally funny when two sailors, also part of the expedition, were treated like second-class citizens and forced to sleep in a cramped tent on the shore, instead of with the oh-so-respectable scientists in their comfortable laboratory retreat.

Though I’m awarding this a rating of four, it’s a good four: cheesy, low-budget films of this sort usually fare no better than a two or three with me, but if you’re a fan of these goofy monster movies from the 1950s like I am, then this is definitely worth a look, and at just sixty-two minutes, it won’t be too taxing on your time or cranial fluids. Overall, I’ll give it one star for effort, one star for quality, and two more for keeping me happily entertained. And if there’s one thing I learned from Attack of the Crab Monsters, it’s this: giant mutated crabs love the taste of lab hamsters.  (4/10)

Attack of the Crab Monsters - photo bw fix crop

12 comments on “Attack of the Crab Monsters

  1. From the depths of the seas….. A TIDAL WAVE OF TERROR! great tagline. I need to see this one, another added to the list. It does look like a riot of fun and I’m liking that run time. Looking forward to seeing Pamela Duncan and not having my “cranial fluids” depleted. hehe.

    Ps can’t believe how life like that crab looks!! :-/


    • Todd B

      Remember, those crabs were of the mutated variety, so there’s no such thing as ‘life-like’! And you may not have your cranial fluids depleted, but after seeing Pamela prancing around in everything from nightgowns to swimsuits, I’m making no guarantees about anything non-cranial!

      And I’d say for you it’s definitely worth a look, and a review. You could even watch it with Xanadu, and have a horror theme night!

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL too funny, a horror themed double bill with Xanadu….. I am totally sold on Pamela and her prancing about. Yes sirree.


      • Todd B

        Then I shall expect to see a review from you very soon…and don’t forget to pay attention to the rest of the movie as well!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Classic! I can watch these crazy low budget efforts once a week. Not anymore though for fear I might suffer from that sudden onset of decapitation as well.


    • Todd B

      I think I do watch at least one of these a week! And I’d probably lop my own head off if I ever had to watch Creature from the Haunted Sea again…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dracula

    Have you seen Attack of the Giant Bangor Lobsters?


    • Todd B

      Bangor? I don’t even know her! But seriously, if you ever send me a Blu-ray copy of AoGBL, I promise you I’d watch it.


  4. Lindsey

    Glad to see you review this one! I have a real fondness for it. The crabs, with their sleepy eyes, aren’t scary in the least — but the film is a lot of fun. I have never attempted to make a Corman favorites ranking, but this would probably be near the top of mine, too.


    • Todd B

      Back when I watched this, I was thinking it would make a good cheese-athon entry for us, but when I checked your site, you’d already seen it! Glad you liked it, though…it was indeed fun. But I must say, if you were lying on a beach somewhere in Michigan, and this thing came wobbling towards you threatening you with somebody’s disembodied voice, sleepy eyes or not, I’m sure you’d allow yourself a hesitant scream or shout. I know I would!


  5. Bill Jones

    The scariest part was David Arvedon, who played Hoolar the Giant Crab. He even LOOKS like a giant crab.


    • Todd B

      I did a search of David Arvedon and indeed found a photo of a scary-looking guy…but there’s also a David Arvedon who’s a singer-songwriter of goofy songs…is it the same person, or two different people? One clue: the musician has an album called Crabbey Road. Hmmmm…


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Movies Reviewed: 230

From the Monolith: 127

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