Don’t let Crabs! opening animation scare you off. Yes, it is cheesy looking and the joke even more so, but thankfully it isn’t an omen of what’s to come. In fact, the film stops mid-credits so that writer/director can serve up a dose of sex, skin and blood as the crabs take their first victims.
Meanwhile, wheelchair-bound scientific prodigy Phil McCalister (Dylan Riley Snyder, C.O.R.N: A Field of Screams, Astrid Clover) is feverishly working on creating a set of bionic legs in time to take Maddy (Allie Jennings, Little Women, Once I was Engaged) to the prom. What he doesn’t know is that, whether he gets lucky or not, come Prom Night he’s going to get an epically bad case of crabs.
Taking its cues from the classic B movies Crabs! takes place in the kind of small-town where our heroes just happen to be related to the right people, so Phil’s brother Hunter (Bryce Durfee, Toxic Shark, Deadly Switch) is half of the town’s police force. And Maddy’s mother Annalise (Jessica Morris, Chase, The Legend of Fall Creek) is the science teacher everyone, including her former pupil Hunter, wants to study biology or at least anatomy, with.
Most of Crabs! effects are practical work by James Ojala (Witness Infection, The Deep Ones) and his team. Interestingly Ojala’s one directorial credit, Strange Nature, is a similarly themed nature on a rampage film. The gore is well done, with scenes that range from assorted body parts strewn about to a victim with a dangling eyeball.
In their early stages, the crabs spend most of their time looking like motorized shells scooting about and occasionally making some strange sounding vocalizations. They eventually start showing a bit of personality bringing films like Gremlins and Critters to mind. The crabs begin to moult and grow into very large and effective killing machines that walk upright. These are portrayed by actors in nicely detailed suits, and most of the resulting gore from assorted body parts to a victim with a dangling eyeball is convincing.
Crabs! final act however may alienate some viewers as it takes a swerve into mecha territory as a kaiju-sized crab that looks a lot like Ebirah from Godzilla Vs the Sea Monster wades ashore for the film’s final battle. The sudden change of tone and the rather poor CGI that comes with it aren’t the biggest problem though.
That would be Radu (Chase Padgett). An Eastern European exchange student, Radu is meant to be the group’s comic relief character. However he’s such an over-the-top collection of stereotypes that not only isn’t he funny, but he’s also annoying as hell and borderline offensive. He even tries to buy Maddy from her mother at one point. I suppose I should be thankful they didn’t go the usual route and make him Asian, but the fact he’s armed with a katana suggests he originally was.
If you can deal with that, however, Crabs! Is a load of goofy, gory fun. I’m a big enough fan of giant monsters that I got a laugh out of the last act, but it probably would have been more even enjoyable if it had avoided the CGI and stuck to man-sized crabs looking for a buffet with all you can eat human legs.
Raven Banner picked Crabs! Up for distribution back in 2015 when it was in post-production. I’m not sure what the hold-up was but it finally made its debut at FrightFest last year and more festival screenings are planned. You can keep an eye on their Facebook page or the page for the film itself for announcements of its release date.