Tuesday, October 20, 2015

She'll Give You Such a Pinch: "Queen Crab" (2015)

Billing itself as a throwback to the stop-motion work of Ray Harryhausen, "Queen Crab" is a goofy sci-fi/horror flick with everything you would expect from those exploitation pictures of decades past- including promising more than it delivers.

Melissa (Michelle Miller) is a young woman who mostly keeps to herself on a patch of rural farmland near a pond. She has lived there since her scientist dad and harpy step-mother were killed in a lab explosion inadvertently caused by Melissa's new pet crab, Pee-Wee. She had been feeding it some of her father's experimental specimens (he seemed to be working on an early version of GMOs), and the crab started to grow. All grown up, and being raised by her uncle and local sheriff, Ray (Ken Van Sant), Melissa threatens anyone who trespasses on her property. Old high school friend, now B movie actress, Jennifer (Kathryn Metz) stops for a visit, and the two reconnect after years apart. Also stopping in the small Crabbe County town is Stewart (A.J. DeLucia) from the state wildlife commission. Local cattle have been getting slaughtered by an animal that leaves bizarre prints, and Stewart arrives to investigate.

What the cast and the viewer eventually find out is that Pee-Wee, Melissa's crab, has grown to the size of a large pickup truck, and has started to have "little" babies (the eggs are as big as basketballs). Melissa tries to save her pet, Stewart wants to study it, and Ray wants to kill it; and all the while, Pee-Wee wanders from her home pond to wreak stop motion and computer animated havoc across the countryside.

Writer/director Piper is well-versed in the old Harryhausen canon, and does a nice homage to the master. This is not complicated stuff, and neither is it scary or even smart. It does serve its purpose- to deliver surface thrills and chills, while the audience waits for a scene that even remotely resembles the DVD cover art. In this day and age of winking films like the Sharknado series, Piper and his cast and crew jump on the bandwagon.

The special effects are very obvious, although they are a nice mix of old and new school techniques. The sound recording is difficult to hear, but the cast seems to be having a lot of fun and are in on the joke. Old chestnuts from those monster movies are trotted out, and I had a nice time reminiscing.

"Queen Crab" offers the viewer a warm, fuzzy feeling of nostalgia, and not much else- the gore is just over the PG13-level and there isn't any nudity to speak of. I smiled during most of it, I had fun watching it, but if anything I want to rewatch the original "Clash of the Titans" or "Jason and the Argonauts" over this. Judging from the previews, Wild Eye Releasing will be bringing more of this to a screen near you. This is unrated, and contains physical violence, gun violence, gore, some profanity, and alcohol and tobacco use. (* * *) out of five stars.

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