Saturday, October 27, 2012
Island Claws (1980)
Crabs, crabs, crabs. Love them or hate them. I personally hate them. The monster-spiders of the deep, water-creatures without soul. Wet insects with grumpy faces. Yeah, it's impossible to eat them and to go near them is out of the question. I was raised close to the sea, to the water, way to much as a child and I've seen them up close. Nasty bitches. That's one of the reasons I wanted to see Island Claws, a forgotten killer animal movie who came a little after everything else in genre (of course there's exceptions, for example John Frankenheimer's 1979 masterpiece Prophecy).
Written by the creator of Flipper (and also the guy who played the "Gillman in water" in all three Creature from the Black Lagoon-movies) Ricou Browning, this feels a lot like a TV-movie (or, you might say, an episod of Flipper) down to the level of graphic violence and adult content (= zero). It even has a couple of old slumming veteran stars, a tradition in TV-movies. And I wonder, maybe it was made for TV first and then the producers wanted to give it a try in cinemas? I might ask Ricou Browning next week when I meet him.
A biological experiment OR a radioactive accident makes the crabs growing a little bit bigger than usual and they start to invade a small island, walking around just being assholes. A couple of the islands inhabitants get together to solve the mysterious deaths and finally, also something that could be the end of the world!
This sounds fun, yeah? Well, it's actually more cozy and "nice" than scary or fun. It's a perfect movie to watch with friends because there's no need to follow the story that much. In this case me and G just talked about how silly crabs look, and that they might have been scarier if the retitled the movie "The Crabinator" or maybe "The Crabator", something more catchy than Island Claws. It's a neat little movie, the actors are fine and the location extra fine. It think what it misses is that horror part. I mean, this is a movie about killer crabs - you want to see people getting graphically attacked by some damn crabs. Now the victims - and they're not many - mostly gets panic by seeing a gang of crabs and accidentally kills themselves by mistake.
Oh, I know! It's easy to see the negative sides of Island Claws, but it's not THAT bad. It's a nice TV-movie (I've checked it now, it was released directly on CBS!) with cuddly, charming actors having a nice time and wonderful, beach-locations. But hey, wait a sec! The last twenty minutes actually delivers something! First of all, a nice boat ride in the night, seeing burning cars by the road, the chaos created by the crabs - and then... hold your horses... a mega-ultra-giant crab appears - and it roar like The Hulk! This is the real deal, they actually built a life-size monster-crab, bigger than anything similar I've seen before - and it (kinda) moves, at least the arms and eyes! It looks quite good and gets a chance to grab a few victims and squeeze them to their unbloody deaths.
That's cool. But I still think the main problem with Island Claws is that "crab" is such a funny word. Just like the word "sperm" in John Hough's sleazy horror film starring John Cassavetes, Incubus, "crab" is mentioned a LOT. So many times it starts to get very, very funny. I'm still laughing at it, and this is the morning after I saw the film!
I'm not sure which one of you would appreciate this movie, but that last mega-crab will make some of you to fans of this oddity. If you get a chance to see it. Right now it's only out on DVD in
in an "okay"-looking release, very far from perfect, but still not
the worst I've seen. I would gladly buy myself a restored version - at least so
I could experience that huge crab again in perfect quality. Spain