★★★ out of ★★★★★
Do you miss goofy ’80s era R-rated monster movies? Crabs! is one of those cheesy nature-gone-wrong films that doesn’t take itself too seriously and manages to deliver some good gory entertainment. It’s inconsistent, but there’s enough here to have a good night with a bag of popcorn and a B-movie creature feature.
Directed by Pierce Berolzheimer
Crabs! is dumb bloody fun. Full stop. Feel free to emphasize the dumb and the bloody if you want. This movie recalls strongly movies from the ’80s like Silver Bullet, Fright Night, Piranha, Blood Beach, Humanoids from the Deep, and most similarly, Critters. This is the kind of film that Roger Corman would make. On the cheap, with enough of the stuff in there that fans of escapism would by happy to see.
You get a teenage kid genius in a wheelchair, Phil (Dylan Riley Snider) who is an engineering tinkerer. This film immediately goes into the accessibility horror dead list, and kudos to the filmmakers for not making Phil a sad sack kid who gets picked on. He is fortunate enough to have a super cute girlfriend, Maddie (Allie Jennings) who is his bestie and his brainstorming partner.
Add into this Phil’s older brother Hunter (Bryce Durfee) the deputy sheriff of Mendocino who has the hots for Phil and Maddie’s science teacher, who also happens to be Maddie’s sexy mom, Annalise (Jessica Morris). Don’t try and work through the various age implications. It will make your brain hurt. But, this core group is a lot of fun together.
I loved the characters. Except for one. Radu (Chase Padgett) is a classmate of Phil and Maddie who looks like he’s 33, and has this ridiculous Eastern European accent and he is, to use old ’80s lingo, a spaz. Radu is the Jar Jar Binks of this movie. He is played entirely for laughs and he misses way more than he hits, and it’s just way too arch, even for a B-movie like this one. Radu would be quite at home in a Troma movie, though.
Then, enter the titular CRABS! Horseshoe crabs, to be specific. And mutant radioactive crabs that molt and become bigger and bigger monsters. These crabs scuttle in from the sea, and like to jump on people’s faces, because if you are roughly the shape of a mask, that’s what you do. And then they go full blender on the unfortunate person who happens to get one of these things attached to their face.
You get the classic sex on the beach opening sequence to begin the movie… a nod to Jaws… and you get a prom sequence… a nod to Carrie… and the wheelchair modification scene … a nod to Silver Bullet. So the plot is fairly derivative, but it does so with such chutzpah and glee that I’m willing to overlook it. Again, don’t overthink this movie.
The end of the movie is just pure wackiness. And, as a horror movie, I rather wish it hadn’t gone here, but I think the directors must have been fond of Kaiju movies and couldn’t resist. It is a bit of a logical thought process, but there are some MacGyver operations here that are just ridiculous flights of fancy.
Still. It’s fun. And the crabs are both kinda cute and kinda scary. And they make funny noises. And credit is due for some great animatronics for the crab critters, and the costumes of the larger crab monsters (which look like close cousins of the Garthim in The Dark Crystal) And it all makes me nostalgic for a bygone era of cheesy Corman-esque B-movies. Crabs! is playing on the streaming virtual platform for Another Hole in the Head Film Festival, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up on a streaming service in a few months. If you like cheesy romp, you’ll probably get a kick out of this.