Stephen Whitty

Columnist, critic for national and international outlets. Author, lecturer, host.

Feb 18, 2022
1 min read

Miss the `70s, when every Roger Corman B-movie had gratuitous nudity and pot-smoking teens? Or the `80s, when Troma Entertainment churned out exploitation flicks crammed with crude humor and over-the-top gore?

Well, Crabs! brings them back, and serves them up hot – with an extra layer of cheese.

Director Pierce McDermott Berolzheimer’s flick is a knowing mix of beloved old drive-in clichés and its own goofy sense of modern fun. (The whole thing ends, ambitiously, with a parody of the Pacific Rim movies.) It’s junk-food cinema, for sure, but still tasty.

After some obligatory T&A terror – a couple making out on the beach get attacked by face-hugging hermit crabs – the film quickly introduces its main characters, a teen nerd in a wheelchair and his spunky girlfriend. And since you can’t have an attacking-monster movie without an overwhelmed police force or a clever lady scientist, the nerd’s older brother just happens to be a deputy sheriff, his girlfriend’s mother a high-school teacher.

The performers are all engaging – Dylan Riley Snyder and Allie Jennings, who play the teens, are particularly charming – and the movie escalates fast, from one carnivorous crab to an entire invading army. (This is a movie that earns its exclamation point.) And the practical special effects – their artistry pitched somewhere between the flying brains from Fiend Without a Face and the mischievous furballs from Gremlins – are perfect, just realistic enough to earn a scare and outrageous enough to win a laugh.

Sometimes the film sticks a little too close to the Troma bad-taste template (that studio’s old mogul, Lloyd Kaufman, gets a shout-out in the credits). The gore – which includes splattered brains and yards of eviscerated intestines – is a bit too much. And a heavily accented Eastern European exchange student, clearly meant as comic relief is, well, neither.

But Berolzheimer (who also wrote, produced, and edited) keeps things moving along, helped by some retro pop on the soundtrack, and the film looks a lot more expensive than it probably was. Unlike those deliberately bad monster movies that want you to ridicule their own happily deliberate incompetence – I’m looking at you, Sharknado – this is a film that wants you to laugh with it, not at it.

True, it’s a movie that’s probably best appreciated after a few cold beers. But get out the Bud, grab yourself a few Krabby Patties and settle in with some Crabs! It’s not really good for you, but if it were, it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.

3.5 stars (out of 5)

Crabs!