Kitschy horror films are a lot of fun when they’re done well, and “Crabs!” is one of those special creature features that makes the grade. This hilarious, ridiculous, over-the-top, silly movie about a murderous horde of nuclear-mutated horseshoe crabs terrorizing a peaceful California coastal town charmed me from the get-go. It also kept me laughing for its full 80 minute run time.
It’s prom night, and Philip (Dylan Riley Snyder) and his best friend Maddy (Allie Jennings ) are preparing for the evening dance along with their peers. It’s just another day in their sleepy seaside village until Philip’s brother Hunter (Bryce Durfee), a police deputy, makes a horrifying discovery on the beach. Something menacing is attacking the residents, leaving behind a trail of dismembered and disemboweled bodies.
It’s only after oddball exchange student Radu (Chase Padgett) witnesses one of these creatures literally rip off and eat the face of his friend that people begin to realize they have a huge problem on their hands. An army of vicious horseshoe crabs is to blame, and they’re mutating. Now it’s up to a band of misfit students, a local science teacher (Jessica Morris), and bumbling law enforcement to fight off the crab menace before it’s too late.
Everything about this film is created with a keen eye for tongue-in-cheek humor. Writer / director Pierce Berolzheimer has a perfect sense of comedic timing, which is essential when creating a corny B-movie like this. The cheesy horror effects are perfect, as are the scenes of giant killer horseshoe crabs. Berolzheimer uses practical effects as well as computer animation to his advantage, adding explosions and other low-grade special effects to the background. All of this gives his low budget project a big budget feel.
The film is an homage to 80s horror flicks, kaiju movies, and classics like “Gremlins” and “Return of the Killer Tomatoes.” It’s goofy in all the right ways (make sure you stay through the credits to hear an amusing, but terrible, original song). The performances aren’t the best, but it doesn’t matter. There are some scenes that feel out of order and others that seem like they exist solely to provide filler and slow the story down, but that doesn’t matter, either.
What impressed me so much about “Crabs!” is the natural comedy instinct from Berolzheimer, and the ability to take a bonkers idea and run with it so thoroughly. This is midnight comedy / horror done right.
By: Louisa Moore