Once upon a time, creature features dominated entertainment.
Pierce McDermott Berolzheimer hopes to find a spot in the hearts of genre fans with creature feature, Crabs!
As director, writer, editor, and producer, Berolzheimer’s hands are all over this low-budget indie flick, and he should be proud.
Crabs! offers a lot straight from the features we love, like those from auteur Roger Corman to the plethora of creature flicks that once dominated Syfy’s weekend lineup.
Berolzheimer set out to make a movie that is “pure, unbridled fun,” and “excessive and over-the-top, but also genuine and heartwarming.”
It sure sounds like a tall order, but the filmmaking gods were with him, and Crabs! carries viewers through a small town’s mutated Horseshoe Crab invasion until an unlikely hero saves the day.
Crabs! is personal to Berolzheimer. Along with his specific goals, it is also a testament to his uncle’s courage while living with muscular dystrophy. Although they never met, he left behind notebooks filled with giant robots and monsters, and the director used that family treasure to create Crabs!
Crabs! has all of the things you’d expect from such a movie right down to the dimwitted couple having sex on the beach, the first victims of the crabs’ new adventure.
Horseshoe Crabs are a strange little thing. In this case, they’re big things, and they feast on humans. There’s not much discussion of why or how, but they’re coming in hot, and someone has to stop them.
Proving that he’s not taking the material too seriously, the crabs get a little schlocky as their inhibitions decrease. They’re beer guzzlers who like to have a good time in scenes that make you giggle.
Moments later, they’re on the attack again, clasped to the face of a poor victim who either never saw it coming or didn’t give them the deference their terror deserved.
Dylan Riley Snyder plays Philip McCalister, confined to a wheelchair, hoping to walk one day and using his impressive intelligence to move in that direction.
Allie Jennings is Maddy Menrath, his best friend and potential love interest. Nothing would drive a young man to find himself a miracle cure than the light of his eye.
Philip’s experimentation not only works but gives him the edge he needs to take on the crabs, putting himself on the line to prove his value to himself and those he loves.
There are a couple of plotlines that were a bit aggravating. The first features Jessica Morris as Annalise, a high school teacher who uses dead cats for biology class.
I’m sorry, Mr. Berolzheimer, but it’s 2022, and cats rule. We do not want to see that. And really? Cats? Would he do the same with dogs? Somehow, it’s always cats, and it isn’t OK.
There’s also a character who gets quite the gift of screentime. Chase Padgett plays Radu, a foreign character of unknown origin who has a few funny lines, but the schtick grows long in the tooth very quickly.
How much do the filmmakers like Radu? He’s even singing the song over the closing credits, which includes a scene that is actually pretty nifty.
The cast is unexpectedly wonderful. With low-budget movies, sometimes the cast comes with very little experience. In this case, every cast member has it, and their skills raise the movie’s watchability dramatically from similar films.
And remember how Roger Corman movies would go all out on special effects that didn’t look great but you knew were created with a lot of love?
Berolzheimer scores with his creatures, from the crabs to a MechaShark that ultimately saves the day thanks to Phillip’s guts and research.
Crabs! is long on laughs, love, and proof that heroes can come from the most unexpected places.
I miss the days that Syfy rolled out a new creature feature every weekend. They’re so fun and irreverant and silly and satisfying, and Crabs! fits in beautifully.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.