Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rare Flix: Island Claws

At a certain point, you have to think: I've seen every kind of giant monster.  I've seen giant ants (Them!), beetles (Starship Troopers), grasshoppers (Beginning of the End), bees (Mysterious Island) and spiders(The Giant Spider Invasion)- those are just the bugs!  On top of that, there are giant sharks (Megalodon), Aztec Gods (Q: The Winged Serpent), eyeball monsters (The Crawling Eye) and even electric eels (Deep Shock).  I think that you get the point.  Where does all of this lead?  Well, it leads us to a fairly-obscure 1980 monster movie known as Island Claws.  What do you get?  Giant crabs, of course.  I know- I was hoping for giant crayfish too!  What does this film have going for it?  For starters, it has only one giant crab, immediately making it inferior to 1957's Attack of the Giant Crab Monsters, which at least had a few- even if they never appeared on-screen together.  Secondly, this is the first, last and only film written, directed or produced by Hernan Cardenas.  Alas poor Hernan, I knew you so little.  Well, thanks the invention of YouTube, we can all get to know you a little better- and for free no less.  Get out your boiling water for my review of...

The film begins with some of the scariest imagery ever put on film.  Are you ready for it?  Are you properly seated for this cataclysmic event?  Okay, here it is.  The first thing you see in this movie are crabs walking out of the water.  Oh the humanity!  Seriously, this is supposed to be scary or something.  At least Empire of the Ants showed you normal ants while setting up the idea of how scary they would be as gigantic.  This film- not so much.  After this bit of nothing, we are introduced to a scientist who is currently studying the growth patterns of crabs.  I don't know where this could possibly be going, do you?  He's being interviewed by a reporter about his work.  Slowest news week ever!  He has some pals who live in a nearby beach town, a group that takes up way too much of the movie.  Other than them, we have his best friend, who's played by Steve Hanks.  As far as I can tell, he's not related to I don't care.  The plot is much less interested in any monsters, preferring to focus on the people.  On top of that, good luck trying to see anything in the night-time scenes.  Mind you, the streaming version online is a VHS-Ripped version, so I can't fully blame the movie.  Anyhow, the crabs continue to...just wander around.  Get to snapping already!

After so much tedium, something finally starts to happen.  After a scare with our heroine, in which she nearly runs into a non-threatening line crabs, she discovers a giant crab carapace.  Incidentally, why is there only one giant crab?  I can accept the giant crab mutation due to nuclear radiation or some shit, but why only one?  Getting past that, we finally get to see the giant crab in the last ten minutes of the film.  I'm skipping a lot of filler here (including a sub-plot with a sick, Haitian girl), so you can thank me later.  It first shows up to attack our heroes at a house by...attacking from the outside.  Do we get a wide-shot to show the monster?  Nope.  Instead, we don't get to see it until the final minutes.  How does it look?  Well, just picture the King Kong animatronic from the Universal Studios ride and you get the idea.  It's built to scale, but there's no life behind those eyes.  The final battle is a long, protracted one built around our heroes being able to inject a tranquilizer in it, while the thing just sort of flails its arms around with all the motion of Yo Gabba Gabba's Brobee.  It's all very..well, silly.  After a while (including the death of one Cuban man), the thing is taken down.  What a way to waste 80 minutes!

This movie sucks, even when you split it up into nine different parts.  Where should I begin?  For starters, the plot is barely-there and doesn't even address much of the environmental stuff that you might expect.  I never care much about it in films like Day of the Animals, but at least they bother to linger on it long enough to make the point.  This film says 'Nuclear radiation made them grow, it's bad- who cares?!?'  Secondly, the acting is really not much to speak of.  None of the people really stand out, which is odd when you consider how much the film spends with them.  Th whole point of this style of film-making is to save money and build characters.  This film pretty much just does the former and not the latter.  What else can I say about this movie?  It's about 70 minutes of build-up to a bunch of people battling a stationary monster.  Wow- just wow.  People paid money to see this, you know.  Mind you, not that many, since Cardenas only made this one film and never worked again.  It's just a shame that he didn't stop at zero!

Up next, another lost '80s classic arrives and it also involves sand, monsters and murder.  Can John Saxon's bad self make it better?  Stay tuned...

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