Tuesday, October 9, 2012

31 Nights of Terror '12 #6 - Island Claws

 The cover of my VHS copy of Island Claws

Island Claws (1980)
Director: Hernan Cardenas
Starring: Robert Lansing, Steve Hanks,
Format: VHS (Empire Video)

Plot: A biological experiment in Florida goes awry. The result: 8-foot long land crabs which roar loudly and kill everything in sight.

See that plot synopsis above? Short isn't it? But that's about all there is to Island Claws. Sure, there's a sub-plot about a young would-be couple from two feuding families, and another about Haitian boatpeople who are smuggled onto land near the village, but all you really need to know is that crabs run amok.

According to IMDB, Island Claws is the only credit for Hernan Cardenas, who wrote, directed and produced this movie. Not sure why that is - Island Claws isn't the worst monster flick I've ever seen. But it's also nothing special.

Pete Adams (Steve Hanks, who the same year starred alongside a young Michelle Pfeiffer in the TV show BAD CATS) and Jan Raines (Jo McDonnell, Marilyn Munster in the 1981 TV movie THE MUNSTERS' REVENGE) are the aforementioned young couple. We get to know them and several other characters in a small Florida fishing village.

A few familiar old faces appear in the supporting cast. Barry Nelson (manager of the Outlook Hotel in Kubrick's THE SHINING) is a marine biologist; Robert Lansing (who made something of a living from "giant nature runs amok" flicks in the late 70s and early 80s, also starring in EMPIRE OF THE ANTS and the giant roaches flick THE NEST) is a bar owner and father figure to Pete.

I'm not going to lie. The first two-thirds of this movie are boring. They're full of mundane village life, sprinkled with a couple of crab attacks. Not giant crabs though, regular sized ones. These attacks consist of someone screaming intercut with stock footage of crabs scuttling about. Hardly terrifying stuff.

The giant crab shows up for the closing act and brings good cheesy action fun, but by then it's too little too late. I understand not wanting to show the creature in its entirety for most of the movie, but what we're left with is 75 minutes of boring set up for 15 minutes of giant crustacean shenanigans.

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