Queen Crab (2015)

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This is from the good people at Wild Eye Releasing. You want indie horror movies to keep getting made? Then you might want to consider dropping a few £££ on their stuff – they’ve got the fantastic “They Will Outlive Us All” and “President Wolfman”, among many others. Check their site out here.

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Sometimes, to be generous, I’ll say “this movie could have been good, if more money had been spent on it”, when I really mean “this sucked, but at least they tried”. In this case, though, there’s a genuinely brilliant horror-comedy lurking just under the surface, weighed down by a miniscule budget and less-than-professional acting, although that great film does pop through from time to time.

 

“Queen Crab” is brought to us by low- and no-budget royalty. First up is writer/director Brett Piper, who got his start on such gems as “A Nymphoid Barbarian In Dinosaur Hell” and “Raiders Of The Living Dead” , and has been working steadily in exactly the sort of genres we love ever since (2009’s “Muckman” looks solid, we’ll try and track it down to review it soon). Producing and editing are the Polonia brothers, who’ve been in a similar field  since the mid 80s – starting off with “Splatter Farm” all the way through to “Sharkenstein”, recently shown on the SyFy Channel. I’m going to let it slide that Mark Polonia edited one of the worst movies we’ve ever covered (and you know that’s saying something), “Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast”.

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20 years ago, young Melissa was playing by the lake next to her house, while her parents argued inside. Mum was complaining that Dad was a useless layabout who needed to find a job, and Dad was complaining that people were interrupting his experiments in finding a way to make things bigger – he wanted to solve world hunger! Anyway, Melissa plucked a few grapes from a tree in Dad’s lab and fed them to her new friend, a crab called Pee-Wee. Yada yada yada, the house blew up, killing her parents, and the grapes caused the crab to grow to massive size, eventually.

 

The rest of the movie is set in the present day and is moderately standard, such as these things go. Melissa has become withdrawn and lives alone (apart from the crab), but an old friend of hers from high school, Jennifer (Kathryn Metz), who’s now an actress in cheesy low-budget movies, comes to visit, drags her to the pub, and she’s not there to do her naked dance which apparently soothes the savage beast. The crab (which seems to be stop-motion, a lovely thing to see in an era of CGI – this is apparently a specialty of Piper’s) doesn’t seem especially aggressive unless provoked, but eventually people figure out what’s going on and it’s stop-the-monster time. If you were wondering why the plot bears no resemblance to the IMDB summary (about an asteroid disturbing the crab’s aeons-long slumber, then…I’ve got no idea either. Best guess is they submitted the plot summary to IMDB while the movie was in pre-production, and then came up with a better / cheaper idea for it and no-one bothered changing it?

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For such a cheap film, they’ve really tried with the characters. The Sheriff and his Deputy, despite the Deputy being a whisker away from being a full-on rapist, are fun characters and have an easy rapport; the bar’s locals actually have character, a trait so rare in micro-budget movies that it deserves celebrating, and despite a few of them not being quite as strong as they could be (sadly, Melissa is a bit wooden in the lead) it’s a pretty big achievement. Obviously, the crab is the best actor in it, but everyone at least puts the effort in. My favourite was the lovely gentle-looking old man who happens to own a fully loaded tank, and turns up when it’s all hands on deck to kill the crab time.

 

I think Brett Piper is a better writer than he is a director, although it might be easier to say you’re more likely to have a good script than good direction when you’ve only got $75,000 to play with. Lots of fun lines – saying someone has a “Craig Ferguson accent” and the entirely straightly delivered “so you’re taking the crab’s side now?” The direction is solid and functional, which I know sounds like damning with faint praise, but when you’ve seen films like…well, “Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast”, you realise basic competence is by no means a given.

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There are flaws, of course, that go beyond the rotten acting and lack of budget. Every man in this town is a sex pest – the Deputy appears ready to hang one of the women in his basement and abuse her body for a few weeks; and the barman’s a piece of crap too. It’s a tiring trope, and the constant threat of sexual violence that hangs over the heads of every female character must put women (who have to deal with remarkably similar stuff on a daily basis) off from watching low-budget monster movies like this. I just don’t buy the only way to generate tension between men and women is the threat of rape, is all.

 

I’m sorry. I appreciate some of you reading this are going “you’re still talking about a low-budget giant crab movie, right?” But when you see as much of this stuff as I do, it starts to wear on you after a while and you need to vent. I’m done. I think with more of a budget, this could have been a very good SyFy Channel movie – which makes me look forward to “Sharkenstein”, directed by the same guy and shown on SyFy a couple of weeks ago. It has the same light touch and quick pace as a Mike Mendez movie, and given how much I’ve enjoyed them that’s a very big plus point.

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As this is on Wild Eye, I would love to get my name on a future DVD cover. So, consider the review over – go buy it and enjoy it immediately – and let’s try a few cool pull-quotes for a potential DVD re-release. “Chuffing hell, it’s great!” “I’m keen for this Queen!” “I’m vegetarian, and I wanted to take a bite of this!” Nope, I’m no good at it. Let’s just stick to:

 

Rating: thumbs up

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