Monday, August 19, 2013

Rant #1,023: Getting "Crabbed"

I love to watch movies.

Since I was a little kid, I just love to watch films on both TV and in the theater.

It brings me to places that I will probably never visit, and puts me in situations that I will never experience.

However, most of the movies now are high-priced garbage, and rather than go to the movies and spend $9 and up on a movie, I would rather sit at home and watch these films.

And honestly, I still watch movies from a different time.

The movies today almost completely turn me off, but once in a while, I am surprised, but not that often.

This weekend, with a pretty barren Saturday night after working early Saturday morning and having a busy post-work couple of hours, my wife and I turned to NetFlix, because we could not find anything on TV to kill an hour or two before we went to bed.

After looking for a long time, my wife asked me if I wanted to watch a golden oldie from 1957, probably one of the worst movies ever made: "Attack of the Crab Monsters."

And I said yes very, very quickly, because this movie and I have a history that dates back to about 1964, or seven years after it was originally released.

Just a little background: "Attack of the Crab Monsters" is an el cheapo classic from drive-in movie king Roger Corman. It stars a whole list of B actors--Richard Garland, Pamela Duncan,who gives her best Annette Funicello imitation without the talent, look or figure for it, and Russell Johnson, who works with the radio here, which gave him the perfect experience to be the Professor on "Gilligan's Island" several years later.

Anyway, the plot, or what there is of it, is that several people get trapped on this island, which is run by giant crabs, created due to fallout from the atomic bomb. The crabs kill almost everybody on the island, and take over their souls in the process. By doing this, they are able to talk, verbalize what they are doing, and plot to take over not only the island, but the world.

Yes, it is that bad.

But it is so bad that it's good, and Johnson is actually the hero of the entire movie, as the guy who sacrifices his life to thwart the evil plot of the giant crabs.

Now that you know the entire story, here is my history with it.

As I said earlier, I have loved the movies since seeing my first film in the theater, "Ben Hur," in 1959 when I was two years old (I probably told that story in this blog years ago, but I won't go into it now).

Anyway, I used to watch movies on my black and white TV as I was getting older, pretty much unsupervised, because I wasn't watching anything so terrible, mainly "The Wizard of Oz" and that type of thing.

But like many young children at the time, I was starting to watch horror and science fiction movies, which were being packaged on shows like "Chiller Theater" and later, "Creature Features" here on New York television in the early to late 1960s.

These shows showed some absolutely horrible films, but to this impressionable kid, I ate each and every one of them up, whether it was "The Attack of the 50-Foot Woman" or whatever.

I loved these movies.

But again, I was a little kid.

Evidently, one day, "Attack of the Crab Monsters" was on, and I watched it, but for some reason, the film stuck with me like glue.

From what I remember, I had terrible, terrible nightmares about this film, with the claw coming out and literally absorbing the people on the island, I guess.

I simply couldn't take it.

And my mother, as I remember it, barred me from watching these movies anymore because of the nightmares I had from this one film.

I remember it so vividly. It lasted several months, and at that point, evidently I was cured, because I went back to watching these films without any problem whatsoever form there on in.

The fun of Saturday night is that I really hadn't seen the movie in years and years, and now looking at it as an adult, I could see why I was so taken in by it.

Its simplicity--remember I was six or seven years old when I had those nightmares--was probably its strong point. I could have been three years old and understood what was going on.

The acting is atrocious, the script is even worse, and why does Pamela Duncan's character bring such elaborate negligees to this remote island (a precursor to the situation on "Gilligan's Island," I guess)?

Anyway, the movie is so bad it's laughable now, but way back when, this film absolutely terrified me.

And to this day, I don't like crabs, don't eat crab legs, and don't want anything to do with them, so I guess it has had a longer-lasting effect on me than I could ever imagine.

It is so funny how youth works.

It is a great time of your life, but would you want to relive it again?

Not if I had nightmares like I used to get from this movie.

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