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  • Rev Horror

Attack of the Crab Monsters

Dir. Roger Corman (1957)

A group of scientists are stuck on an island with giant crabs that want to eat them.

Man, Roger Corman lived one hell of a life. Probably the man most responsible for the formation of and the lasting power of the horror genre, Corman was a Hollywood legend in every sense of the word. From cartoony 50's science fiction to socially conscious horror, Corman has terrified and titillated viewers since 1954, directing and producing so many foundational films, especially of the B variety, that it's impossible to imagine the genre, or even movies in general, without him. To celebrate his life, I have decided to post a few reviews of his work today. First up is Attack of the Crab Monsters, bringing focus to his work as a director in a time where horror dominated the drive-in and elaborated on the social fears of the Cold War generation.

A group of scientists lands on an island to investigate the disappearance of another set of scientists who were sent to study radioactive fallout from nuclear bomb testing. Once there, they find themselves at the mercy of giant crabs who have eaten the previous expedition and absorbed their minds, looking to create an army of their telepathic kin. With a healthy dose of 50's paranoia and some truly special effects, Attack of the Crab Monsters delivers everything there is to love about science fiction of the era while also pounding the heavy-handed anti-nuclear messages of the day. And all while delivering a score that would fit perfectly on a radio drama from yesteryear.

Corman's entire career was built on the mantra of "cheap and fast," which was perfectly fitting for his output: the man made over five hundred films in his career, and allegedly only one of them failed to turn a profit (and might even be his best film, to boot). As legendary a director as he was, he was perhaps even more incredible as a producer, and Attack of the Crab Monsters saw him filling both roles (as he often did). Corman's genre aesthetic and ability to make something so cheap look so damn good was incredible, a competence and understanding of the art of movie making that is unrivaled in Hollywood history.

It's so easy to look back at films like this and realize that the movies of old don't stand up to modern day, but Corman's films never feel like that. They may not be your cup of tea, but they're always quality films that are uniquely charming in their simplicity and endearing in their attitude. It's grindhouse cinema at its best, a rare blend of Hollywood style and guerrilla filmmaking that a handful of people on the planet have been able to master. Granted, Corman's films don't usually invoke as much fear as they might have done in the 50's, but they're still so much fun to watch and are instant nostalgia to anyone who grew up in that era (or any other for that matter). While Crab Monsters doesn't do anything to set itself apart from the other "oversized animals" films of the era, its expertly crafted in a way that makes it entertaining despite its lack of ingenuity.

Attack of the Crab Monsters is a great representation of Corman's work as a director because it contains all of the filmmaking sensibilities that made his whole schtick work. It's cheap, to be sure: giant, obviously fake crab monsters with questionable facial expressions hunting a group of scientists and very limited set design for them to escape to. Despite its questionable quality, it's still an infinitely watchable film and one that hits a perfect sweet spot of fond remembrance and B-movie silliness. This one was one of Corman's personal favorites of his work, so much so that he wouldn't let Jim Wynorski remake it because of his fondness for the film. And it does stand up, if not in comparable quality to the films of today then at least in the cinematic nostalgia of an era that resonates in the hearts and minds of thousands of filmmakers today.

The world was truly blessed to have had Roger Corman for as long as we did. He was universally beloved, a true pioneer in filmmaking, and a legend to an industry full of legends. There will never be anyone else that is able to do what he did, for as long as he did, as well as he did it. I highly encourage anyone reading this, or anyone who has the same sort of nostalgia for his work that I do, to seek out a few of his films this week and give them a watch. He will be missed by every horror fan, whether they know it or not. The genre, and film as a whole, will never be the same without him.

Who this movie is for: B-movie fans, 50's science fiction lovers, Seafood enthusiasts

Bottom line: Attack of the Crab Monsters is a nostalgic monster movie that represents the best of Roger Corman the director and the Cold War-era nuclear-scare science fiction of the 50's. It is also a fantastic showcase of the blend between sci-fi and horror, back when they weren't separate entities, and its cinematography and feel echo even to the horror being made today. Corman was, and always will be, a legend, and I highly recommend checking out some of his work to celebrate a man who will never be forgotten in the horror genre. A true master, and he will be greatly missed and always appreciated.

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