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NYPD detectives Shepard and Powell are working on a bizarre case of a ritualistic Aztec murder. Meanwhile, something big is attacking people of New York and only greedy small time crook Jimmy Quinn knows where its lair is.
The screenwriters here go with a standard "recipe for disaster" scenario. A marine research lab on an island off the coast of Florida is playing with fire as they fool around with crustacean DNA. As the film opens, an accident has occurred at a nearby nuclear reactor. The stage is now set for scores of angry crabs to launch attacks on the natives - and for one mammoth crab that wreaks havoc on the town.
Roger Cormans' "Attack of the Crab Monsters" gets updated (sort-of) for the 1980s in this enjoyably cheesy thriller. It's co-written by Ricou Browning, who gained his fame playing the Creature from the Black Lagoon in underwater scenes 26 years previous. The director is Hernan Cardenas, who is no master craftsman, but adequately puts the story through its paces. The special effects are not all that special - the monster crab at the end can't do much of anything. But it's a good thing that its appearance occurs at night, which helps it to work somewhat better. Glen Robinson, who worked on the 1976 remake of "King Kong", constructed the rampaging creature.
Key to the thing succeeding at all is that none of the cast wink at the audience, or have self-referential dialogue to utter. They play it for real, which helps to sell the patent ridiculousness of the premise. Robert Lansing is the main hero, an Irish-accented bar & restaurant owner, Steve Hanks his young friend, Nita Talbot his gal pal, Jo McDonnell as a young journalist, Martina Deignan as Hanks' co-worker, and original 007 Barry Nelson (who was also in "The Shining" around this time) is the principal egghead, who realizes that he and his cohorts have helped to create a terrible problem. Look for "Friday the 13th Part 2" male lead John Furey in a small role as Deignans' boyfriend.
It's not really for hardcore horror fans - very little gore, no nudity, a low body count - but viewers who aren't too picky should have some fun. It even attempts to be somewhat topical as it drops some Haitian immigrants into the mix; they soon incur the wrath of the bigoted Joe (Tony Rigo), who thinks at first that they're responsible for everything.
Rousing music by Bill Justis and striking cinematography by James Pergola also help to make this an enjoyable offering for monster movie lovers.
Seven out of 10.
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