Tuesday 20 March 2018

Island Claws

Title: Island Claws
Director: Hernan Cardenas
Released: 1980
Starring: Robert Lansing, Steve Hanks, Nita Talbot, Jo McDonnell, Martina Deignan, Barry Nelson, Tony Rigo, Raymond Forchion, Dick Callinan, Dolores Sandoz, Frank Schuller, Mal Jones

Plot: When a leak at a Florida power plant dumps several thousand tons of toxic waste into the ocean it causes the local crab population to suddenly start growing to monsterious size and start moving in on the local population of a nearby fishing village.

Review: The sole film from director Hernan Cardenas while also written by Ricou Browning and Jack Cowden who also created “Flipper” making their move into writing a movie about killer giant crabs a perfectly logical one. This late entry in the animals run amok genre doesn’t exactly bring anything new to the genre outside of the fact that its about giant crabs which compared to the numerous shark movies out there is certainly one of the lesser seen creatures of terror. I mean even ants to my knowledge have clocked up more movies than our crustacean pals have but stumbling across this on Amazon Prime who recently have become almost shameless with the kind of movies they choose to stock their on demand library with I thought it was an interesting enough concept to check it out.

Opening to a research lab were they are conducting experiments in increasing the size of crabs using warm water and growth hormones as a warm to help increase the world’s food supplies, especially when they discover that the local crab population near the power plant have been growing bigger which of course is nothing to do with the fact that a few tons of toxic waste have been dumped in their part of the ocean which anyone up to speed on their movie logic will know already that movie radiation equals giant monsters compared to real life were it sadly this is never the case. It’s here though that we are introduced to journalist Jan (McDonnell) who is writing a story on the lab only to soon also get involved with scientist Pete (Hanks).

Elsewhere bar owner Moody attempts to keep the small town together by acting as their unofficial head as he keeps the peace amongst the locals usually by keeping them boozed up in his bar while he also acts as Pete’s adopted father after his parents were killed in a drink driving accident caused by Jan’s father who also runs the power station responsible for all the giant crabs. There is a small part which hints at bad blood between the two fathers but is as dropped as quickly as its introduced like so many of the sub-plots in the film which includes a group of Haitian refugees who wash up on the outskirts of town and hide out in the mangroves and whose sole reason for their inclusion seems to be so that Cardenas could work in an angry mob who thanks to some old school racist tendency believe that the Hiatians are to blame for all the strange happenings in town which they equate to voodoo reminding us once more that there are few things as dangerous as a group of drunks with an idea.

The crab attack are sadly pretty sparse here and for the most part involve actors working with a swarm of real crabs which are actually used pretty effectivly especially during one of the scenes highlights when they swarm the school bus which one of the locals Amos lives in with his attempts to battle the invading crabs showing us that the banjo is as little use as a weapon as it is an actual instrument.

The climax of the film though see’s the towns folk battling an 8 foot crab which somehow has managed to remain hidden until it suddenly destroys Moody’s house. Created by Glen Robinson who’d previously worked on effects for “King Kong” (1976) and “Flash Gordon which far exceeds the expectations of the films low budget especially when he built a complete crab and not just the front portion which you’d expect. While still an impressive looking design it sadly lacks any real movement meaning the actors are forced to run around a lot shooting at it with shotguns and generally trying to sell it as being more of a threat than it really is and perhaps Cardenas might have been better just sticking with his initial crab swarm.

The downside to the film other than the occasionally plodding plot threads certainly comes from the lack of lighting during the night sequences which really make it hard to see what exactly is supposed to be happening half the time, which one of the attack scenes is for the most part impossible to make out meaning that it lost much of its effect.

On the whole its not a bad film just not the sort of film that your likely to watch more than once and even then its throwaway entertainment at best especially if your a fan of the genre.

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