Many evenings, as I lay in bed waiting for sleep to overcome me, I’ll dig through Amazon Prime Video and find an old monster movie to watch. As with most streaming sites, I am given recommendations based on my previous viewings. These recommendations are generally other vintage monster movies, due to frequent viewings of Bride of The Monster, The Giant Gila Monster, and Attack of the Crab Monsters.
Thanks in particular to that last film, 1957’s Attack of the Crab Monsters, one title has repeatedly found its way into my Recommendations list, in spite of its having only been released in the last few years. That film is 2015’s Queen Crab. After a week or two of constant confrontation with the image of a large crab doing battle with a small army of soldiers while plucking fighter jets out of the sky, I gave in to allure of Grade-B cheese, fully expecting a braindead creature feature akin to those released by The Asylum (who were not responsible for this film).
For the record, I shamelessly admit to loving quite a few of The Asylum’s releases, so my hopes for Queen Crab were set quite high. However, once I saw that the film was produced by Mark Polonia, my expectations were set quite low. That’s not a “slam” against Polonia, even though I did give his early film, Channel 13, a negative review. It’s just that the majority of Mark (and his late brother, John) Polonia’s films are made for less than the price of my house! That’s not me damning low-budget films! Not at all. You just have to know what to expect going in. That’s not me hyping up my house either, although that shit is pretty nice, if I do say so myself.
Queen Crab was directed by Brett Piper, who wrote and directed such films as (the Misty Mundae-starring) Screaming Dead, Psyclops, and 1990’s A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell. He also contributed effects to Sharkenstein, Hellgate: The House That Screamed II, and 1986’s Raiders of the Living Dead. If these films are known for anything, it’s surely not their lofty production costs. Queen Crab was reportedly made for less than $100,000… and hot damn, does it show!!
Melissa, the young daughter of a scientist who is developing a growth hormone for livestock, finds a freshwater crab near the pond behind her secluded rural home. After an attempt at garnering some attention from her distracted father by showing him her new discovery rewards her with little more than the “nugget” of knowledge that crabs are omnivorous (meaning they will eat most anything), Melissa steals some “fruit” growing from an experimental plant in the lab to feed the crab in the hopes that it will help her new friend “grow up big and strong”.
After the crab startles her mother, it sets in motion a series of events that results in an explosion in the lab. Both of her parents are killed in the blast, leaving Melissa in the care of her uncle, Ray (Ken Van Sant, who has appeared in a number of Polonia’s films), the town sheriff. The film fast-forwards 20 years at this point to find that Ray is still the sheriff and looks the exact same, and Melissa is now played by the same actress (Michelle Miller) that played her mother.
Ray is called in to investigate a cattle mutilation on a local farm. Bizarre tracks found at the scene lead directly to Melissa’s childhood home, which she still owns and resides within. Melissa has become very defensive about people trespassing on her land, even holding a shotgun on her uncle and his cocky, but dense, deputy to prevent them from following the tracks any further. Unbeknownst to either officer, she is still protecting her crustacean friend from any harm from the outside world.
Unbeknownst to Melissa, however, is the fact that her “friend” is actually a female member of the species and has recently laid a nesting of eggs. Those eggs hatch, unleashing a small army of dog-sized (well, maybe cat-sized) baby crabs, who kill a few of the townsfolk before being crushed to death under car tires themselves. The discovery of her dead children incenses the giant crab, who then embarks on a (slightly) more grand-scale rampage!
However, Queen Crab makes the odd choice to make NONE of these characters its “leads”. Instead, those roles (arguably) go to what are, truthfully, superfluous peripheral characters; a high-school friend of Melissa’s (Kathryn Metz) who unexpectedly drops in for a visit after 10 years, and a wildlife officer (A.J. DeLucia) who has come to investigate the case. Melissa essentially becomes a supporting character in what is really her story, while a large majority of screen time seems to go to these two.
The film features quite a bit of filler, usually by means of comedic banter between the characters. This does allow for slight character development, but such a thing is really kind of irrelevant to a film like Queen Crab. This movie is really just about having fun and turning your brain off for a little over an hour (as I had hoped). Sure, the effects show their budget, but I assure you… you’ve seen worse in larger budgeted films.
The acting is serviceable enough to get the job done, but in most instances, extras are clearly friends and family of the filmmaker and crew. While these folks give understandably amateurish performances, they are all clearly having a blast making the film! Their exuberant, often over-the-top antics, are frequently among the most enjoyable moments in the film! The young kid brandishing the machine gun and pretending to get sloppy drunk? Tell me you wouldn’t have loved to have been in his place at that age!
It’s this community-minded feeling to the project, much like that found in Bill Rebane’s The Giant Spider Invasion, that gives Queen Crab its charm… although I’m certain Mr. Rebane would not appreciate the comparison. That’s not to say that Queen Crab is as entertaining a film or as grand-scale of a project as Giant Spider Invasion, as that film featured a giant spider built from a VW Bug, while Queen Crab‘s titular beast is brought to life through stop-motion and CG. It’s also safe to say that The Skipper and Della Street will not be making an appearance here!
If you just can’t tolerate a film that unabashedly shows off its extremely low-budget, Queen Crab just isn’t for you. However, if you can accept these aspects and are looking for a fun, dumb monster film that provides a few chuckles along the way, you might just enjoy Queen Crab. As mentioned, it’s currently free to watch on Amazon Prime Video with a subscription. Link: https://amzn.to/2X174kJ
And if you don’t like it? Well, I don’t really give a shit. The review is finished.
Queen Crab was released to DVD by Wild Eye Releasing. We were not sent a copy for review purposes, but if they wish to send us movies for review in the future, they know where to find us.
Yeah. Amazon is turning into the new Drive-In of the 21st century.
The cover takes me back to King Kong ’76. Better yet, 1970’s Yog, with the giant octopus wrapped around the Earth. That never happened, of course. And Kong never actually straddled the Towers and battled down jets, either.
Anyway, I’ve watched a few of Brett Piper’s film and I dig his Ray Harryhausen vibe. I missed this one. I’ll cue this up this week.