A seafood combo platter of Humanoids From the Deep, Gremlins, Pacific Rim and The Wrong Trousers – made in the style of such retro-schlock parodies as Zombeavers and Wolfcop, with similarly inventive use of not very much money. Writer-director Pierce Berolzheimer has studied his Roger Corman (always a good idea) and Troma (not so much) and come up with a lively, engaging picture that is stuck with a ‘funny foreigner’ running joke which harks back to the worst of the sub-Porky’s teen comedies of the 1980s, though the stragulated Radu (Chase Padgett) at least partially redeems himself in the end credits song ‘Is Crabs!’
Irradiated mutant horseshoe crabs scuttle ashore and rampage maliciously through a small town, evolving into increasingly gigantic, aggressive, cunning forms. Arrayed against the monsters are ‘handicapable’ teen paraplegic Philip (Dylan Riley Snyder), his slacker deputy sheriff brother (Bryce Durfee), his sweet and smart girlfriend (Allie Jennings), her glamorous science teacher mother (Jessica Morris) and that Radu guy. There’s a palpable sweetness to most of the silly comedy stuff, with Philip wearing jury-rigged exo-skeleton legs so he can dance with his girl at the prom – then applying his genius and an unfeasably potent power source to whipping up a shark mecha for the final one-on-one with the Queen Crab on the beach.
It’s colourful and gruesome, clearly the work of committed monster lovers (the mostly practical creature effects are fun in a Toho circa 1972 sort of way), and might even have franchise potential.
Not a Guy N Smith adaptation, then. Hope the producers have, ahem, ‘shelled’ out (ho ho) for promotional badges reading ‘I Caught CRABS at … Frightfest 2021 (or Cannes, or the NFT, or at HOME, Manchester – or wherever)’