‘Attack of the Crab Monsters’ (1957)

Hold the Cheddar Bay Biscuits

A friend, who is not a cult movie fan, described the title “Attack of the Crab Monsters” as sounding like “something a third-grader would come up with.”

I could only reply: “Wait’ll you see the crab monsters.”

In Roger Corman‘s film, an expedition lands on a weird island with no living animals. Within the group is a hero (Richard Garland), a heroine (Pamela Duncan), a wing man (Russell Johnson), and a fat Frenchman (Mel Welles). The dialogue is mere exposition about the weirdnesses they encounter. There is no real character development to keep us involved until, in the final act, Johnson makes an awkward play for Duncan, who is spoken for.

Now, that’s a crab monster!

Otherwise, Corman is banking on three things to sell this movie: the ludicrous title, the rocky shore location, and the underwater photography (which is augmented in no small measure by the sight of Duncan swimming in a clingy bathing suit). The movie poster prominently features a long-tressed blonde in the clutches of a crab monster; no such scene, or character, appears in the film.

In true Corman fashion, there are plural monsters, but only one is seen at a time. (Hmmm …) This monster is among the most laughable in horror-film history, right up there with the crawling carpet in “The Creeping Terror” and the caped chiropractor in “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” But it’s still kinda cool.

Thrills and chills on the “Attack of the Crab Monsters” lobby card.

Reportedly, monster maker Paul Blaisdell — creator of the carrot creature in “It Conquered the World” and the bubble-brained aliens in “Invasion of the Saucer Men” — passed on “Attack of the Crab Monsters” when he heard how much Corman was paying.

That same year, Duncan played the hooker with a past life in Corman’s “The Undead” (1957). Welles is best remembered as harried plant-shop proprietor Mushnick in Corman’s “Little Shop of Horrors” (1960). And Johnson, of course, won fame for getting stranded on another island. Johnson played the Professor on “Gilligan’s Island” beginning in 1964.



Starring Richard Garland as Dale Brewer; Pamela Duncan as Martha Hunter; Russell Johnson as Hank Chapman; and Mel Welles as Jules Deveroux
Written by Charles B. Griffith
Cinematography by Floyd Crosby
Produced and directed by Roger Corman
[Allied Artists Pictures]