Sometimes I find it strange that certain “B-movie concepts” don’t get more love. Take for instance giant tick movies, to date there’s only one in existence, Ticks (1993), or how about giant mosquito movies? We only have two of those, Mosquito (1995) and Skeeter (1993). Incidentally Mosquito is the better one. Both giant ticks and giant mosquitoes are solid B-movie concepts. Giant ant movies are another example. I can count the number of giant ant flicks (Them! (1954) and Empire Of The Ants (1977) on one hand and still have enough digits left to maintain a good rhythmic grip on my member for some random self-pleasure. Giant crabs are yet another and an apropos one since this review just so happens to be about a giant crab flick.
At least with crabs I can’t count up to three with them, and that’s including this movie here. Roger Corman’s Attack Of The Crab Monsters (1957) is weird and creepy even though the practical monster FX is static as all hell, and then there’s 1980’s Island Claws, which I have on blu-ray, but have yet to revisit. Corman’s flick would make a nice remake and I believe at one point in cinema history there were plans for one. Again why only three giant crab movies? Like spiders, ants, ticks and mosquitoes they make great monsters for a movie. You know what would make a great series of crab movies are adaptations of Guy N. Smith’s crab books. He’s got six of them in publication the first one having been published in 1976, the last in 2012, and four short stories, but here we are in 2015 and no one has ever made one movie on any of them.
Well, anyway, until that happens, we do have Brett Piper’s Queen Crab to keep us hanging tenuously on. Before I go into details this movie feels like the kind Corman would make back in his prime when he churned out quality B-movies, and not the slickly shot (bad) CGI crapfest he executive produces nowadays for SyFy. Let’s put it this way, if you’re a fan of any of those aforementioned crab movies and/or Corman in his prime, then I’ll bet my bottom dollar you’ll take to this flick like a giant crab to water.
I’ve heard of Brett Piper, but have never seen any of his movies. I almost wanted to see Muckman (2009), but still haven’t committed to pulling the trigger on that one, despite checking out the trailer every so often. I heard about his Queen Crab years ago via posts he would make on his Facebook page, but didn’t really take notice until a trailer came out and I saw the stop-moton effects. I’m old school, I’m old enough to remember a man named Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013) who made stop-motion his forte. Only other effects artist I know who could give him a run for his money, and in some instances actually surpass him, was David Allen (1944-1999). Stop-motion unfortunately is now a dead art form, at least where big budget live action movies coming out of Hollywood is concerned. If you do want to see it from a “major” you have to seek out kids films, like A Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), or The Corpse Bride (2005) or Coraline (2009). So you can understand how pleasantly surprised I was when earlier this year I reviewed Sinbad: The Fifth Voyage (2014) that used quality stop-motion by Ron Cole. The movie around the effects, however, wasn’t as good, but the stop-motion monsters gave me a nice Harryhausen vibe. Brett Piper’s stop-motion is in that category too, quality, with integration with the live action, in most scenes, being just as good, but what about the movie itself? Like Cole’s effects, Piper pulled me in with his talent, but could he keep me there? Leery as I was when it started, the man did create an unexpectedly good story and stage it well for the budget he had to work.
I want to say this is a backwoods tale of a giant crustacean run amok, but, then, I thought, well, there’s backwoods and then there’s backwoods. This isn’t Deep South backwoods just to be clear, but Pennsylvania backwoods, but, hey, we still have a giant crab tearing through the locals and the woods, so I guess it evens out.
Twenty years before our movie begins we meet Mark Polonia playing a husband, father and a scientist, but it’s the scientist role that’s gearing up to put a big ass hurt on the county decades from now because he’s trying to solve the food shortage crisis he presumes we’re all going to be in someday by “making things bigger.” Hmmm, I seem to remember another scientist tried that exact same thing. It was back in 1955 and his name was Professor Deemer. Oh, he succeeded all right, just like this new guy does, but there were “unintended consequences.” Aren’t there always. To make a long story one of his “test subjects” got loose and terrorized the local community, but that’s talk for another day. His daughter Melissa (Liberty Asbury) finds a crab down by the shore and decides to keep it as a pet, feeding it the “grapes” budding on this tree in her father’s lab.
Back in the present Melissa (Michelle Simone Miller) is all grown up and so is her pet crab. She’s also an orphan due to a mysterious accident, which I’m not so sure she didn’t have a hand in, blew up their house and her parents. Her pet crab started out with the name Peewee, but now goes by the name of Goliath. He didn’t name himself, she did. Crabs, giant or normal sized, lack the almost uncanny ability to name themselves. I know it’s sad, but that’s the way it is. This isn’t your normal girl/crab relationship either; she has a psychic connection with it and apparently on a routine to semi-routine basis calls it out of the pond on moonlit nights. These “callings” require her to be naked and twirling. That’s my kind of calling.
Her best friend from high school, Jennifer Kane (Kathryn Metz), comes looking to reconnect one evening. Jen’s gone all Hollywood and is now a famous B-movie actress. She knows how to fight too and gets her jollies from kicking the shit out of tanked, local deputy, Sonny Huggins (Rich Lounello), at the local Road House. Actually she only did it this one time, but he had it coming, he’s kind of a douche.
In the meantime, Sheriff Clarke (Ken VanSant), is having a hard time trying to figure what made these weird footprints and tore a hole in this farmer’s barn. This is where Stewart MacKendrick (A.J. DeLucia), comes in. He’s a biology or ecology expert, or some such expert, who finds a giant, shed, crab shell (legs, claws and all) in the woods along with some recently, hatched eggs. Remember when I said the FX was integrated very well into the movie. This is one of my favorite shots. The discovery of that giant shell next to the ruins of this old, stone house. It’s a miniature but it looks perfectly at home within the live action footage. The bartender, Moe (Steve Diasparra), of that aforementioned roadhouse, meets the little critters and dies horribly. Soon various others are bumping into the Goliath and getting pulled apart. The movie doesn’t quite mimic that cool ass DVD cover, for the crab isn’t Godzilla huge enough to pluck fighter jets out of the sky, but it does face off with a couple, when the Sheriff calls them in to bomb the pond. The ending didn’t go as expected, which means, yes, there conceivably could be a Queen Crab II somewhere on the horizon. In fact there better be.
The acting varies from actor to actor, but never gets unwatchable, and since this was done on a Corman-esque shoestring all locations are actual locations, which is sometimes refreshing to see in a movie, but in the commentary Director Piper would kill to have a multi-million budget to actually build sets. I want him to have a budget like that too someday. If he can do this on a shoestring, just think of the wonders he could create with just a million bucks.
Back on September 29th Wild Eye Releasing put out Queen Crab on DVD only!
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1.78:1 (?) widescreen—Dolby Digital Mono—No subtitles
The transfer looked good, but the only problem I had with this movie was the audio in a couple of scenes. The ones in the bar were terrible. So much so in one instant you can barely hear the dialogue. Piper addresses this in the commentary and it’s basically one of the cons of filming on a shoestring.
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director/Co-producer Brett Piper, Actor/Technician/Co-producer Mark Polonia, Actor Steve Diasparra and Technician Anthony Polonia
- Bloopers (4:02)
- Behind The Scenes: Queen Crab Consequences (7:31)
- Behind The Scenes: Queen Crab Conversations (7:40)
- Behind The Scenes: Composing The Queen (5;41)
- Triclops Trailer
- Dark Sleep Trailer
- Jurassic Prey Trailer
- Wild Eye Releasing Trailers: The Amazing Bulk, Queen Crab, Raiders Of The Lost Shark, The Mothman Curse, Swamphead, They Will Outlive Us All, Paranormal Halloween, American Poltergeist
Personally, I found the best extra on the disc to be the commentary, where you get the lowdown on how, where and why everything was filmed.
By the way the plot mentioned on the back of the DVD is deceptive. It mentions a meteor crashing into the lake and awakening the giant crab. Yeah, that doesn’t happen. There is no meteor, no crash, no nothing of that nature. Not that that’s a bad angle, it just doesn’t happen in this particular movie.
Update: Wild Eye Releasing explained to me why that description on the back cover bears no resemblance to any plot point in the movie: “The description on the back was a cheap nod to the 50s monster movies, but it backfired, everyone thinks we screwed up – it was not a mistake, it was intentional!”