Attack of the Crab Monsters

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Attack of the Crab Monsters
Attack of the Crab Monsters 1957.jpg
Directed by Roger Corman
Produced by Roger Corman
Written by Charles B. Griffith
Starring Richard Garland
Pamela Duncan
Russell Johnson
Music by Ronald Stein
Cinematography Floyd Crosby
Edited by Charles Gross
Distributed by Allied Artists
Release dates
  • February 10, 1957 (1957-02-10)
Running time
62 min
Country United States
Language English
Budget $70,000
Box office $1 million

Attack of the Crab Monsters is a 1957 independently made American black-and-white science fiction film, produced and directed by Roger Corman (via his Los Altos Productions), starring Richard Garland, Pamela Duncan and Russell Johnson. The film was distributed by Allied Artists Pictures Corporation.

Attack of the Crab Monsters concerns a second scientific expedition that is sent to a remote Pacific island to discover what happened to the scientists of the first. Unknown to them when they arrive, the island is inhabited by a mating pair of two radiation-mutated intelligent giant crabs that consumed the first expedition. The giants are also slowly undermining the geology of the island, causing it to fall away, piece-by-piece, into the ocean.


A group of scientists land on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean to search for the previous expedition that disappeared without a trace and to continue their research on the effects of radiation from the Bikini Atoll nuclear tests on the island's plant and sea life. They learn to their horror that the earlier group have been killed and eaten by two mutated, intelligent giant crabs, who have also absorbed the minds of their victims and can speak telepathically in the voices of their victims.

Members of the current expedition are then systematically attacked and killed by the monsters, which are now invulnerable to most standard weaponry because of the mutations to their cell structures. The remaining scientists finally discover that both giant crabs are the cause of the ongoing earthquakes and landslides on the island; they are slowly destroying the island, reducing its size. The scientists turn their attention to a way to stop the mating pair of monsters from reproducing.

As the island continues to fall away into the Pacific, and after barely escaping from a laboratory that is about to collapse, the surviving trio witness up close one of the intelligent giant crabs for the first time. This is Hoolar who speaks to them via telepathy and vows to go to the mainland with her fertilized eggs when the island is gone (and the three scientists are dead) to feed upon on even more humans, absorbing those minds in the process. One of the remaining three then sacrifices himself in order to kill the monster and her unhatched brood.

Following the giant's destruction, the two in-love survivors embrace on the small portion of what remains of the island.




The film was made on a budget of $70,000, grossing $1 million.[1]


Writer Charles B. Griffith later described the scripting process:

"Roger came to me and said, 'I want to make a picture called 'Attack of the Giant Crabs,' and I asked, 'Does it have to be atomic radiation?' He responded, 'Yes.' He said it was an experiment. 'I want suspense or action in every scene. No kind of scene without suspense or action.' His trick was saying it was an experiment, which it wasn't. He just didn't want to bother cutting out the other scenes, which he would do."[2]

Underwater photography[edit]

Griffith directed some underwater sequences (and also appeared in a small role). Griffith said,

"I had just read 'The Silent World' by Jacques Cousteau and found it to be new and exciting. So when that picture came along, I wrote all the underwater stuff and went to Roger and told him I’d direct all the underwater parts for $100. He said 'okay.' If I had just asked, he would have said 'no.' I had to put it in a way that he would jump at. So I directed all that stuff and it was rather funny. I’d be down at the bottom of the tank at Marineland trying to get actors to do something while (director of photography) Floyd Crosby was hammering at the glass window trying to get them to do something else. (Laughs.) It was all pretty silly."[3]


Theatrical release[edit]

The film was distributed as the main feature on a standard double bill theatrical release with Corman's Not of This Earth. Attack of the Crab Monsters was Corman's most profitable production up to that time, which he attributed to the "wildness of the title," the construction of the storyline,[1] the structuring of every scene for horror and suspense, and editing for pace.[4] Corman has stated that the success of the film convinced him that horror and humor was an effective combination.[5]

According to Tim Dirks, the film was one of a wave of "cheap teen movies" released for the drive-in market. They consisted of "exploitative, cheap fare created especially for them [teens] in a newly-established teen/drive-in genre." [6]

Film reviewer Glenn Erickson, writing in DVD Savant, noted that for Corman, Attack of the Crab Monsters was "... (a) more ambitious production, it covers the methodical destruction and inundation of an entire island – all of which occurs off-screen. Charles B. Griffith's screenplay keeps the story hopping for just over an hour but limits the show to a minimum of locations."[7]

Proposed remake[edit]

Jim Wynorski, who remade another Corman-Griffith film, Not of This Earth, for Corman, loved Attack of the Crab Monsters and wanted to remake it. He said a script was written, but "he (Corman) didn't want to do it -- he thinks too much of the original film to do a remake."[8]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Frank, 1998 p. 38.
  2. ^ Fischer, Dennis. "Charles B. Griffith: Not of this Earth." UC Press E-Books Collection, 1982-2004. Retrieved: January 9, 2015.
  3. ^ Graham, Aaron W."Little Shop of Genres: An interview with Charles B. Griffith." Senses of Cinema, April 15, 2005. Retrieved: January 9, 2015.
  4. ^ di Franco 1979 p. 78.
  5. ^ Corman and Jerome 1990, p. 39.
  6. ^ Dirks,Tim. "Citing Website" The History of Film - The 1950s: The Cold War and Post-Classical Era, The Era of Epic Films, and the Threat of Television, Part 1. Accessed March 16, 2015,
  7. ^ Erickson, Glenn. "Not of This Earth, Attack of the Crab Monsters, War of the Satellites: Roger Corman's Cult Classics Triple Feature." DVD Savant, December 28, 2010. Retrieved: January 9, 2015.
  8. ^ "Jim Wynorski :Legendary Film Maker Interviewed! Talks Chopping Mall Working with Traci Lords and his New Film!!" Monday, February 17, 2014 at Gore Hound Mike


  • Corman, Roger and Jim Jerome. How I Made A Hundred Movies In Hollywood And Never Lost A Dime. New York: Random House, 1990. ISBN 978-0-306-80874-6.
  • di Franco, J. Philip, ed. The Movie World of Roger Corman. London: Chelsea House Publishers, 1979. ISBN 978-0-87754-122-6.
  • Frank, Alan. The Films of Roger Corman: Shooting My Way Out of Trouble. Bath, UK: Bath Press, 1998. 978-0-71348-272-0.
  • Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies: American Science Fiction Films of the 1950s, 21st Century Edition. Jefferson, North Carolina" McFarland & Company, 2009. ISBN 978-0-78644-230-0.
  • Wingrove, David. Science Fiction Film Source Book. London: Longman Group, Limited, 1985. ISBN 978-0-58289-239-2.

External links[edit]