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Not Rated
Copyright 1957 Allied Artists Pictures Corporation.
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 'a long time ago'

The Characters:  

  • Hank - Russell Johnson! In addition to being the only useful member of the group he hates crabs on general principle. Electrocutes himself and the last crab, thus saving mankind.
  • Martha and Dale - Biologists in love, though Martha was just about ready to give Hank a test drive. Her boyfriend is a putz.
  • Karl Weigand - Nuclear physicist, first to suspect the existence of mutated monsters, the last to get eaten.
  • Jules Deveroux - French botanist who has one hand cut off by falling rocks. He does not even have time to contemplate how that will affect his sex life before a crab eats him.
  • James Carson - Geologist and light snack.
  • Two Navy Guys - Trained in demolition, though they must have been swabbing the deck when safety was taught. Crab chow.
  • The Crab Monsters - Giant mutated land crabs with human eyes, not only are they nearly impossible to kill, the creatures absorb their victim's intellect by consuming the brain and can project voices through metal objects. (At one point an ashtray is speaking in Jules' voice.) Hank kills both of them.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

After a group of scientists studying the effects of nuclear radiation disappears there is only one thing to do, send another group armed with grenades and rifles to replace them. Unfortunately the floatplane, which transported the team, explodes on takeoff and leaves them marooned and their radio rendered temporarily useless by severe weather.

The Researchers begin conducting experiments on the rapidly shrinking atoll, never guessing what horrors await. Perhaps you are wondering why it's shrinking. Well, the mutated crabs are doing it to make killing the humans easier, despite have no problem killing the previous party on a full sized island. I guess they don't like having to chase down their prey. It is even worse than we imagined! In addition to being huge, mutated, man-eating, and nearly indestructible the monsters are fat and lazy to boot! Obviously people and atolls are fattening. Over the period of a few days the crabs destroy several square miles of rock. It is pretty darn impressive, but why did the scientists get worried when the clawed landscapers stole two cases of dynamite? Oh no! They might blow up a large boulder or two! The monsters ate half the atoll already, without the explosives, using dynamite would probably slow them down.

We are informed these were land crabs, and I'm hardly an expert, but all the crustaceans would appear to possibly be Dungeness Crabs. Considering the movie was probably shot along the California coast you have to agree it is a plausible hypothesis. Plus the monsters are always accompanied by strange clacking sounds which I suppose is their limbs and joints. Personally it reminds me of an evening at Red Lobster, listening to a fat guy two tables over attack his dinner with cracker and mallet. You sir, are a truly disgusting human being.

With the island reduced to a small rock outcropping and the last crab monster closing in all seems lost, until Hank climbs the antenna and brings it down on the advancing horror in a shower of sparks. Where the device was still drawing power from is beyond me, but my brain clicked over to "standby" during the opening credits anyway.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Few things get more mileage than stock footage of cold war nuclear tests.
  • God is available for voice-overs.
  • The wild ocean looks just like an overstocked aquarium.
  • Newly formed sinkholes should not have shrubs growing out of their sides.
  • Marines have one natural predator: land crabs.
  • When demolition experts play poker they use sticks of dynamite instead of money or chips.
  • Crabs are mimics and ventriloquists.
  • Oil flows uphill. (This is the only explanation possible, they walk downhill looking for the source.)

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • Opening Credits - "Roger Corman." That should explain anything you see in the next ninety minutes.
  • 5 mins - Maybe setting the nuclear bomb off near an inhabited area was a bad idea. Hope you people can swim.
  • 7 mins - Very deep water and just six feet from shore.
  • 8 mins - Don't throw grenades at the sea turtles! They are on the edge of extinction and this rocket scientist wants to chuck grenades at them.
  • 16 mins - Actually he did say "Earthworm."
  • 22 mins - Martha and Dale are perfectly dry, despite just emerging from the water.
  • 31 mins - These scientists, some of which are kind of chubby, plan to climb that rope huh?
  • 58 mins - Why does it matter where the oil is coming from?
  • 63 mins - "One Million BC" earthquake anyone?

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note crabmonsters1.wav Martha: "Jim, you don't know what's down there!"
James: "What could be other than earth, water, and a few land crabs?"
Green Music Note crabmonsters2.wav Karl: "We are unquestionably on the brink of a great discovery. It is not likely that that discovery will be of a pleasant nature."
Green Music Note crabmonsters3.wav Dale: "That means that the crab can eat his victim's brain, absorbing his mind intact and working."
Karl: "It's as good theory as any other to explain what's happened."
Green Music Note crabmonsters4.wav 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?"

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 



 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipcrabmonsters1.mpg - 2.6m
Hank the hero, well almost.

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Comments:Write CommentPages: [1] 2 3 ... 6
Attack of the Crab Monsters
Reply #1. Posted on October 10, 2000, 11:10:03 AM by peter johnson
I agree with the other comment here.  Well, maybe not "the greatest", but damn good.  I especially dug the personality assumption by the crabs everytime they ate someone.  Parts of this threat by the psychic alien presence reminded me of an actually very good film, Five Million Years to Earth.  Indeed, one could imagine Professor Quatermass in a similar fix.  Yep, ol' Roger Corman has more than justified his existence on Earth via panders to our purient interests such as these.  Also, really cool giant rubber crab claws!!  See the film--don't YOU want a set of these giant rubber claws?
Attack of the Crab Monsters
Reply #2. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Ken
I saw this great (bad) film at the theatres as a pre-teen.  ...Crab Monsters, Attack of the Killer Shrews, and Curse of the Demon are my three all time favorites.  James Best (of the Duke's of Hazzard) is excellent in the Killer Shrews, as is Dana Andrews in ...Demon!  I have since bought DVD's and videos of all three for my home library.  
Attack of the Crab Monsters
Reply #3. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Chadzilla
This movie aired on television at something like 4 o'clock in the A.M.  Being a terrible bear to wake up I opted to stay awake until it aired and then go to bed when it was over, just so I would not missed this monster opus I had never heard of.  Imagine the look on my father's face when he discovered me up at 5:30 and I told him it was so I would not miss Attack of the Crab Monsters!  Let me say this was long before VCRs were introduced onto the market.

I thought the idea was interesting, but the movie itself was a tad weak.  Still the idea of absorbing the mind of the victim, creating not only a monster of increasing cunning, but one that could play mind games with you (pun!) as well if one or more of its victims had been a friend or loved one of yours is a great one.  Goofball exercises like this, that dared to try anything, no matter how silly the end result wound up looking, is what made the 50's such a "Golden Age" of science fiction and monster movies.  These movies just have personality to burn!
Attack of the Crab Monsters
Reply #4. Posted on March 28, 2001, 06:35:08 PM by Georgiann
Not a great movie, perhaps, but still I found this one incredibly creepy when I was a kid with the feeling of being trapped, the disembodied voice of the crabs and the way they absorbed the personalities of the people they devoured.  
Attack of the Crab Monsters
Reply #5. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by David D. W.
This was about the scariest thing I'd ever seen - when I was four years old.  I was scared of crabs for a month afterward.  Then we had a big windstorm and I got over my fear of movie monsters.  I had the good fortune to view it again on the Late Late Terror Theater Show when I was in junior high.  I've liked goofy s.f. movies ever since.
Attack of the Crab Monsters
Reply #6. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Donna Frayser

In grade school this one scared me and my best friend half to death.  When it was over I noticed his hair, which was really short, was literally standing on end.  Although land-locked in Oklahoma, we weren't taking any chances and for weeks afterward kept a sharp listen for that crackling sound of an approaching crab.

Oh to only have giant radioactive crabs to worry about these days.  
Attack of the Crab Monsters
Reply #7. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Doug
As a film collector (film not video) this is a 'Holy Grail' and VERY VERY hard to get.
I saw this in Theater (Empire Theater, Port Richmond, Staten Island NY) in '57. I was instantly a favorite. The claustrophobic concept of the Island shrinking to a mere slip of sand was brilliant.
Yeah...the Crabs have eyeballs...whatever...this is a tight fast fun Sci-Fi with lots of great ideas thrown around. Speaking of Crabs...that might be Jack Nicholson under the Crab! He WAS on set, and Corman is famous for putting everybody to work. Ed Nelson WAS under the Crab as well.
And yes...I JUST DID score a 16mm print of this movie. Tokk 35 years of searching...but, that's the way it goes. If you think paying $20 for a vhs is bad...try geting the film print! OUCH!

LionPoint 16mm
Attack of the Crab Monsters
Reply #8. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Swamprat
Seen it several times over the years. Everytime someone else has been there they say it..."The Professor!" Yes. The Professor...The man who could build a nuclear reactor from two cocoanut husks, a fist full of sand, a conch shell, and Gilligins hat...but couldn't figure out how to patch a two foot hole in a wooden boat. The crabs remind me of a Thanksgiving day parade float...I keep watching for somebody to trip and careen the whole thing into a nearby rock. Giant claws have never freaked me out. Why didn't these people just melt up a bucket of butter and go after the critters with a hammer? I rate movie monsters on a scale of 1 to 10...crabs, even giant mutated ones, only rate a 3...1s being monsters that are implied but never really seen, and 2s being monsters that are implied but do manage to pop up at the last minute very briefly. Has anyone ever seen Night of the Lupis? Giant man eating bunny rabbits chasing Stuart Whitman around the desert? They fried them with electricity too...the whole county had fried rabbit every night for three weeks afterwards. The giant bunnies got a 4 outta me...that should tell you what to expect from the Giant Crabs...It's a helluva choice to have to make...Giant Crabs or Giant Man Eating Bunnies. By the way...The Alien, the Predator, Karloffs original Frankenstien Creature, and Olivia Newton John in Xanadu all ranked as 10s. Sherwood Shwartz...the creator of both Gilligins Island and the Brady Bunch is an 11...
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