Tuesday, February 5, 2008

February's Monster Movie of the Month - AOTCM (1957)

Attack of the Crab Monsters

Oh. My. GOSH! This movie was so much fun!

Now you gotta keep in mind, when I rate things, I'm just saying how much I enjoyed them (or didn't) and why.

So when I give an incredibly bad movie (like this one) such a high rating, I'm not saying it's an Oscar winner... or even remotely watchable by anyone else. I'm just saying that, for me, it did it's job and did it well.

And this movie - in the "So Bad It's Good" category - is so terribly, tragically bad... that it's amazingly, fantastically good.

So. I started my "AOTCM" experience by watching the trailer. These huge popup titles are on the screen as it plays:







"That's a great beginning", I think. So I start the movie. It begins with these funky opening titles - wet-watery music, twisted-oceanic-wreckage drawings and funny looking bulgy-eyed-monster things (never seen in the movie).

After the credits are done, I get some ominous scrolling paragraphs - putting "ME" in the story (so I'm sure to take things seriously):

YOU are about to land in a lonely zone of terror... on an uncharted atoll in the Pacific!

YOU are part of The Second Scientific Expedition dispatched to this mysterious bit of Coral reef and volcanic rock. The first group has disappeared without a trace! YOUR job is to find out why!

There have been rumors about this strange atoll... frightening rumors about happenings way out beyond the laws of nature....

Next I get stock footage of atomic tests - to get me thinking about man's arrogance which surely cannot forever go unpunished....

Next is a shot of stormy sea with black clouds (more stock footage), and a very doom-ish sounding voice intoning (from Genesis 6:7):

And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

So, after being soundly warned by Narrator, Mother Nature and God... THEN the actual movie starts.
Is that great or what?!

The actual storyline of the film is this: 

Some scientists arrive on an island to investigate what happened to the previous team - observers of atomic bomb tests - who disappeared without a trace (hmmm). The island is empty of all human and animal life, except for a few land crabs (ominous music here).

Just as the group arrives on the island, one of the navy crewmen falls out of a boat and comes up with his head missing (could it be foreshadow of what's to come?). Then the navy plane that flew them there mysteriously blows up right after it takes off, leaving them stranded and unaccounted for.

They find the journals of the previous team, but there is no explanation of what happened. Soon they start hearing the voices of members of the previous team (who are dead), calling to them in the night. Then "something" breaks into the area where they're living and sabotages their radio.

Finally, the group is lured into the caverns (by the voices of dead team members) where the real menace is hiding -- gigantic, bloodthirsty mutated land crabs that communicate telepathically and have all of the knowledge and intelligence of the team members they've eaten!

(I know!)

One by one, all but three people are killed off and their minds/memories are absorbed by the mutant crabs, who also have the power to focus radiation into destructive beams that they're using to gradually smash the island into bits, so they don't have to chase the people around to kill them. (Never mind where the LAND Crabs will live after they've smashed all of their LAND).

Well, by the end, a giant crab has cornered the survivors on the only remaining bit of land just a few dozen yards across. Will the hapless scientists survive?!

You gotta watch it to find out.

The movie is also FULL of the funnest, most ridiculous dialogue. Just a couple of examples:

Martha Hunter: But Doctor, that theory doesn't explain why Jules' and Carson's minds have turned against us.
Dale Drewer: Preservation of the species. Once they were men. Now... they are land crabs.

Crab Monster: So, you have wounded me. But 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?!

I'm totally buying this movie.