Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)

67 mins | Science fiction | 3 March 1957

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HISTORY

The film's working title was Attack of the Crab Monster . The following written foreword appears after the opening credits: "You are about to land in a lonely zone of terror..on an ucharted atoll in the Pacific! You are part of The Second Scientific Expedition dispatched to this mysterious bit of coral reef and volcanic rock. The first group has disappeared without a trace! Your job is to find out why! There have been rumors about this strange atoll..frightening rumors about happenings way out beyond the laws of nature..."
       Although the film's copyright registration lists the running time as 70 minutes, the Var review states that the film ran 62 minutes. The print viewed ran 67 minutes. The onscreen cast credits list the character played by Tony Miller as "Jack Sommers," but in the film he is called "Sam Sommers."
       According to a 12 Oct 1956 HR news item, producer-director Roger Corman was to fly "to the gulf of Baja California" the following week to scout underwater locations for the film; however, it has not been determined if any Baja California footage was used in the film A modern source states that writer Charles Griffith directed the underwater sequences. In his autobiography, Corman stated that the film cost $70,000 and that the principal exteriors were shot at Leo Carrillo State Beach, CA. Corman also noted that actors Ed Nelson and Beech Dickerson and the key grip on the film, Chuck Hanawalt , operated the crab ... More Less

The film's working title was Attack of the Crab Monster . The following written foreword appears after the opening credits: "You are about to land in a lonely zone of terror..on an ucharted atoll in the Pacific! You are part of The Second Scientific Expedition dispatched to this mysterious bit of coral reef and volcanic rock. The first group has disappeared without a trace! Your job is to find out why! There have been rumors about this strange atoll..frightening rumors about happenings way out beyond the laws of nature..."
       Although the film's copyright registration lists the running time as 70 minutes, the Var review states that the film ran 62 minutes. The print viewed ran 67 minutes. The onscreen cast credits list the character played by Tony Miller as "Jack Sommers," but in the film he is called "Sam Sommers."
       According to a 12 Oct 1956 HR news item, producer-director Roger Corman was to fly "to the gulf of Baja California" the following week to scout underwater locations for the film; however, it has not been determined if any Baja California footage was used in the film A modern source states that writer Charles Griffith directed the underwater sequences. In his autobiography, Corman stated that the film cost $70,000 and that the principal exteriors were shot at Leo Carrillo State Beach, CA. Corman also noted that actors Ed Nelson and Beech Dickerson and the key grip on the film, Chuck Hanawalt , operated the crab monsters. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
30 Mar 1957.
---
Daily Variety
18 Mar 1957.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Oct 1956
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Nov 1956
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Mar 1957
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
30 Mar 1957
p. 322.
Variety
20 Mar 1957
p. 6.
DETAILS
Release Date:
3 March 1957
Production Date:
began late November 1956
Copyright Claimant:
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
26 March 1957
Copyright Number:
LP7920
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Sound System
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
67
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18415
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

A U.S. Navy seaplane delivers a team of scientists, led by nuclear physicist Dr. Karl Weigand, to a remote Pacific atoll to study the effects of atomic fallout from nearby H-bomb tests. The other members of the team are biologists Dale Drewer and Martha Hunter; geologist Dr. James Carson; botanist Jules Deveroux; demolition experts Ron Fellows and Sam Sommers; and electronics specialist Hank Chapman. This team replaces a previous research expedition, which the navy believes disappeared during a typhoon. As supplies are being unloaded, a seaman falls overboard and is decapitated by something in the surf. Quinlan, the naval officer assigned to transport the team, was a member of the search party that attempted to find the earlier group, but found only the journal left by leader McLean. After the new group experiences an earthquake and avalanche, Quinlan and his crew leave to fly back to their base, but the plane explodes on takeoff, killing the crew. In the team's laboratory, Karl reads the journal and learns that McLean had noted a possible increase in size of the island’s creatures due to atomic radiation. The next day, Martha, a marine biology expert, begins her underwater studies and is joined by boyfriend Dale. When they return to the surface and head back to the laboratory, Karl and Jim show them a fifty-foot-deep cave-in on the trail they had taken to the beach. That night, Martha is awakened by a voice identifying itself as McLean and begging for help. Outside, Martha bumps into Jim, who has also been summoned, and together they follow the voice to the newly formed pit. Jim decides to descend to the bottom via a rope, but ... +


A U.S. Navy seaplane delivers a team of scientists, led by nuclear physicist Dr. Karl Weigand, to a remote Pacific atoll to study the effects of atomic fallout from nearby H-bomb tests. The other members of the team are biologists Dale Drewer and Martha Hunter; geologist Dr. James Carson; botanist Jules Deveroux; demolition experts Ron Fellows and Sam Sommers; and electronics specialist Hank Chapman. This team replaces a previous research expedition, which the navy believes disappeared during a typhoon. As supplies are being unloaded, a seaman falls overboard and is decapitated by something in the surf. Quinlan, the naval officer assigned to transport the team, was a member of the search party that attempted to find the earlier group, but found only the journal left by leader McLean. After the new group experiences an earthquake and avalanche, Quinlan and his crew leave to fly back to their base, but the plane explodes on takeoff, killing the crew. In the team's laboratory, Karl reads the journal and learns that McLean had noted a possible increase in size of the island’s creatures due to atomic radiation. The next day, Martha, a marine biology expert, begins her underwater studies and is joined by boyfriend Dale. When they return to the surface and head back to the laboratory, Karl and Jim show them a fifty-foot-deep cave-in on the trail they had taken to the beach. That night, Martha is awakened by a voice identifying itself as McLean and begging for help. Outside, Martha bumps into Jim, who has also been summoned, and together they follow the voice to the newly formed pit. Jim decides to descend to the bottom via a rope, but loses his grip when an earthquake strikes, causing him to fall to the bottom as Martha faints. Later, the others find Martha, and Jim calls to them from the pit to tell them he has a broken leg. While Dale and Martha return to headquarters, the others take a different route to the bottom of the pit through caves along the beach. When Dale enters the laboratory, he is attacked by a giant claw, but escapes. After the others fail to find Jim, they return to discover that the laboratory has been deliberately destroyed and their radio transmitter wrecked. The group returns to the caves to search for Jim, but a severe earthquake triggers a rockfall that results in Deveroux losing one of his hands. Later that night, after Fellows and Sommers are murdered in their tent on the beach, Deveroux is awakened by their voices telling him they have found Jim and instructing him to meet them at the rim of the pit. Deveroux goes there and is killed when a giant claw grasps him by the neck. The others are wakened by his screams, then hear his voice, but find his room empty. The following night, Deveroux again speaks to them, telling them that something remarkable has happened to him and invites them to see for themselves by joining him and Jim in the caves. When Karl, Dale and Hank enter the cave, they are attacked by a giant crab, which although impervious to gunfire and grenades, is killed when a falling rock penetrates its brain. Karl takes a specimen claw from the crab, but as they leave, another giant crab appears and Deveroux’s voice warns the scientists against trying to destroy him. Back at the laboratory, Karl theorizes that not only have the giant crabs been created by radiation, but also that they are assimilating characteristics of the human victims they are eating, absorbing their brain tissues and minds. Karl also believes that the crabs are deliberately destroying the island by causing the earthquakes. From a photograph Karl took of the second crab, Martha deduces that it is pregnant and the team decides that it must be killed. After Hank uses the specimen to demonstrate that the crab can be destroyed electronically, he devises an electronic ray to kill the creature. Later, while Hank attempts to build a new radio transmitter, Martha gently rebuffs his romantic interest by explaining that she is committed to Dale. After more of the island falls into the ocean, Dale and Karl find oil in a fissure and attempt to locate its source, but Karl accidentally steps on the trigger for the electronic ray and is killed. When Hank tries to send a message by Morse code, the voices tell him it is useless and that the team will vanish along with the island, after which there will be further attacks on mankind. Another massive earthquake destroys the rest of the atoll and Dale, Martha and Hank, trapped on a rocky promontory, unsuccessfully attempt to kill the approaching crab with grenades. Hank then climbs a nearby radio tower and collapses it onto the crab, causing a giant explosion, which kills both him and the monster. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.