Island Claws (1980) Poster


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Oh no...crabs!
udar553 October 2009
Reporter Jan Raines (Jo McDonnell) is doing a feature story on the creative lab experiments on crabs by Dr. McNeal (Barry Nelson, the original 007). Naturally, something goes awry, but it isn't in the lab. See Jan's dad Frank just happens to own the local nuclear power plant and they just happened to accidentally dumped 40,000 of radioactive water into the nearby sea, creating one muther of a killer crab. Did I mention that Frank also just happens to be rivals with the Moody (Robert Lansing), the town bar owner who plays surrogate father to Jan's hunky lab assistant love interest Pete (Steve Hanks)? And did I mention Frank just happened to have killed Pete's parents in a drunk driving accident years ago? With all this "just happens" drama, who cares about killer crabs?

Crabs? Seriously, crabs? Yup, the little crustacean creeps are the main villains in the Florida lensed horror flick. One can only laugh during the early scenes where people are attacked by normal sized crabs. I mean, is it too much to close a door or, I don't know, run quickly in the opposite direction? To the film's credit, there is one huge 12-foot crab dashing about, but it only shows up on screen in the last ten minutes. I'll admit the design is pretty impressive for a low budget film. The script (co-written by the Creature from the Black Lagoon himself, Ricou Browning) is all over the place though. Despite Frank Raines being the cause of all this madness, he never gets his comeuppance. In fact, he is only shown once in the entire film. And, if you have a big ol' crab, you better blow it up. Here, they just poison it and it slumps down. Director Hernan Cardenas was one and done with this flick. Lansing earned his "battling big creatures" street cred with EMPIRE OF THE ANTS (1977) and continued in this fine line of work with killer cockroaches in THE NEST (1988).
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Killer crabs from outer space.
HumanoidOfFlesh8 January 2010
The action of "Island Claws" takes place on a sunny tropical island.Marine biologists are experimenting there with growth hormones on the local crabs.This results in a radiation-mutated crabs straight from Guy N.Smith's paperback novel.Amusing animal attack cheapie with a nice beach scenery and lots of crawling crabs.They kill the first victim by burning down his trailer.Poor banjo musician contra mutated crabs.When the giant crab appears it looks impressive.The creature was constructed by Glen Robinson of '77 "King Kong" fame.Hernan Cardenas "Island Claws" has ridiculously low body count, but if you are in the mood for some tame 80's horror you can't miss it.6 crabs out of 10.
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endearingly bad
eileenmchenry30 January 2004
I gave this one a good rating because it is so incredibly funny. The script seems to have been run through a woodchipper before rehearsals started, and the characters are so idiotic I really wish more of them had been shredded by killer crabs. By far the best acting was done by "Trouble" the dog. Check out that great death scene with "Trouble" staggering out on the beach with ketchup poured all over him. I have to add that this movie has simply the most beautiful killer-crab effect in any movie, ever, even surpassing the giant crab in "Mysterious Island." And you have to love a crab that roars like a lion and sticks its tongue out at the camera.
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GroovyDoom11 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Crabs are one of nature's ugliest creatures, and they sure can have some big pincers, but I can't imagine being killed by one of them, or even a lot of them. Nevertheless, that's what "Island Claws" concerns. It's supposed to be about giant crabs, at least if you read the summary on the video box, but there's really only one big crab. The filmmakers have wisely kept the giant crab off screen until the anti-climactic climax, filling the rest of the movie with a few crab attacks of the normal size. We also get to see some ominously-swaying vegetation (crab grass?), which indicates that "something" is moving through it, just out of view. Eeeeeee!

Making this of particular interest to fans of bad monster movies, this one stars Robert Lansing, veteran of the better-known "giant monster" stinker "Empire of the Ants". Lansing also was something of a genre favorite...later he would also appear in Roger Corman's cockroach monster movie "The Nest". "Island Claws" was never released theatrically, which was probably a good thing for Mr. Lansing and his hapless cohorts who appeared in this film, but someone out there saw fit to release it on video. Its obscurity makes it a curious find, especially if you've burned out on trying to find all of these bad 70s/80s "nature-runs-amok" films.

Sadly, "Island Claws" doesn't have much action to recommend it. There's a lot of junk science scenes where we get the usual story of chemical pollution causing the aberrant crab mutations. There are only a few deaths to speak of, the most significant one being a pet dog who stumbles onto the beach for a death scene (quite impressive for the canine actor). The crab monster seizes a woman by the arm and drags her through the trees, but we never see it. One complete idiot who lives inside an old bus sets it on fire by knocking over an oil lamp after normal-sized crabs invade the bus; he conveniently forgets how to leave the bus and chooses instead to burn up inside. It is talky, unoriginal, and is a little overly ambitious in its bid to tell the tale of what could happen if a crab grew into a size that was roughly equal to a tractor trailer.

Well if you were making a movie and your giant monster was like this, you'd keep it off-screen, too. Much like "Jaws", it seems like these filmmakers built their monster and then realized it didn't work very well. Unfortunately, that's where the similarity to "Jaws" ends. In all fairness, the crab is physically convincing, but it doesn't exactly move. Otherwise, it's impressive the way the eyes and mouth are animated. They even have enough money to make it scurry side to side for a brief moment. Horrors!
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Colossal Crustacean
Chase_Witherspoon11 August 2006
Seaside community is besieged by a chemically enraged (and significantly enlarged) crab, that cuts of path of destruction and chaos. Various odd-ball characters are quickly dispatched, attracting the concerns of otherwise care-free locals, including Robert Lansing as the proprietor of the local saloon.

"Island Claws" is by no means the worst "killer animal" movie on the block; some good sets, pleasant beachside scenery and Lansing's rendition of the bemused publican with an accent from parts unknown, almost (but not quite) compensate for the $2 special effects and banal dialogue.

Throughout the movie, reference to the "mysterious" perpetrator is flagged by glimpses of a claw, or larger-than-usual sideways shuffle tracks in the sand. When the film's crowning glory is finally exposed in its entirety, it's easy to understand why the makers kept it concealed for 80 minutes. The concoction is laughable, but then, what would you expect?

Aside from Lansing, whose trademark ambivalence has been a familiar character trait in his portrayals in other films of the ilk (see "Empire of the Ants" and "The Nest"), only Barry Nelson can rate a mention for being a known quantity. All the other faces are virtual unknowns, with the exception of Nita Talbot in a frivolous supporting role.

Sometimes vaguely scary, but mostly puerile, if you happen to see a copy for less than pocket money, treat yourself and gain a new appreciation of the extent to which film-makers went to cash-in on the "killer animal" theme that was in vogue at the time.
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Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap …. CRAB!
Coventry7 December 2009
Oh cool! A movie about mutated killer crabs! You don't encounter too many of those; especially in comparison with movies about spiders or rats or whatever. Like in most contemporary creature-features, the thematic animal species looks a lot more menacing in the stock footage (that the film probably stole from the National Geographic archives) than in the special effects version. It seems to take ages before anything significant happens and, in spite of a lot of crawling crab footage, it takes a while before you realize they're slowing heading towards town and plotting an attack against the community. First, though, you'll have to struggle through a god-awful and unnecessary "forbidden romance" sub plot and plenty of padding footage of a hillbilly dance festival. "Island Claws" is a boring film with practically no action, uninspired writing and zero attempts to insert any humor or cheesy atmosphere. The concept of genetically manipulated crabs running amok on an island holds a lot of potential, but the script (from the same people who made cult favorite "The Amazing Mr. No Legs") unfortunately doesn't even use up 5% of that potential. There are plentiful of weird sequences that are completely irrelevant to the plot, like the heart-breaking story of a family of Haitian immigrants stranding on the island and a totally random supportive character declining a wedding proposal. The few scenes that are relevant to the plot, however, are stupid and ridiculous. The body count is intolerably low for an 80's flick and the few deaths that are on display are tame and gore-free. Two little moments to illustrate just how stupid "Island Claws" is: 1) none of the crabs actually do any killing and 2) the island community is more shocked and upset regarding the death of a poodle, but nobody mourned for the town's banjo musician. Eventually a gigantic crustacean (thank you, Wikipedia) does show up, but it comes far too late to boost up the entertainment value.
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Pretty pathetic
rdoyle2913 July 2017
A radiation leak causes crabs to mutate. One of them becomes a giant 8 foot crab, but most of them become ... normal looking crabs. The normal crabs do nasty things like burn down the trailer of a banjo player. Large bunches of normal crabs scuttling around are not very threatening. This film doesn't really work on any level. Veteran actors Robert Lansing and Barry Nelson are here, but unfortunately Steve Hanks is the nominal star and he's such a terrible actor that he can't manage to do normal tasks like pouring a cup of coffee without looking stiff and awkward.
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"Jan, Crabs Don't Just Attack People!"...
azathothpwiggins18 June 2019
Scientists working on meatier crabs, use water from a nearby bay in their crab tanks. Oh no! A nuclear power plant has had an "incident", releasing radioactive water into the very same bay! Soon, the bay-area crabs are on the move. Meanwhile, it's crab-racing time down at Moody's (Robert Lansing- 4-D MAN, EMPIRE OF THE ANTS) saloon. There's also a ho-down, complete w/ banjo! Ah, what joy! Simultaneously, the crabs have gathered outside in the woods, and they look... crabby! A short time later, the half-wit banjo-player, who lives in a school bus, has a crab problem. Yes, he uses the banjo as a defensive weapon. Too bad there's a C.O.E.S. (Crab Of Enormous Size) on the loose, since banjos have no effect on these colossal crustaceans! This is only the beginning. It's not long before no one is safe from these siding abominations and their... king crab! ISLAND CLAWS is the perfect treat for fans of the giant crab sub-sub-genre. It falls somewhere between ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS and MYSTERIOUS ISLAND on the cheeeze chart. The mobs of meandering crabs is reminiscent of the flopping amphibians in FROGS. As for the humongous horror itself, it's pretty much saved for the crab-tastic finale, which is -of course- the best part of the movie. EXTRA POINTS: #1- If you can figure out how / why the monster crab roars like the mutant bear in PROPHESY. #2- If you can tell what part of Ireland is represented by Moody's "accent". #3- If you can walk away from this movie without asking, "Where's my banjo?"...
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This film didn't make this viewer crabby.
Hey_Sweden28 March 2019
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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Island Claws bores.
BA_Harrison17 August 2017
When I was young, I remember flicking through the pages of one of Guy N. Smith's pulpy Crab horror novels, drawn to the scenes of graphic violence (and the occasional sexy moment). Sadly, Island Claws isn't an adaptation of one of Smith's books; what we actually have is a pretty dull 'giant animal' creature feature written by Jack Cowden and Ricou Browning (the latter known to serious horror fans as the gill-man from The Creature From The Black Lagoon), whose script is seriously in need of some of Smith's gory sensationalism.

The dreary plot sees the inhabitants of a Floridian island attacked by killer crustaceans, both regular size and XXXL, the crawling sea creatures having been affected by radioactive water leaking from a nearby power plant. A pointless subplot about Haitian immigrants makes the film even more of a drag, as does the 'forbidden' romance between teaching assistant Pete (Steve Hanks) and photojournalist Jan (Jo McDonnell), daughter of the power plant boss. With much of the action taking place at night, it's hard to see what is going on for much of the time, with the final assault by the sole giant-sized shellfish deliberately dark so as to not show too much of the immobile crab model.

With zero gore and zero nudity, this isn't anywhere near as trashy as I had hoped. Perhaps someone should look into buying the rights for Guy N. Smith's Night of the Crabs and make a really entertaining giant crab movie: with today's CGI technology, the results could be a lot of fun.
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Killer crab cheapie
Leofwine_draca2 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
ISLAND CLAWS is a cheap and cheerful monster movie made in 1980. Current releases are marred by poor, grainy picture quality and a fullscreen print, but it's still fun for B-movie lovers. The story sees the usual scientific experiments resulting in genetic modifications in the local crab population; after a number of townsfolk are killed by rampaging armies of killer crabs, our assembled heroes and intrepid reporters come up against a giant, eight foot long beastie. It's one of those films which feels cheap and long-winded in the non-action scenes, and hilarious in the crab attacks. Cult novelist Guy N. Smith (of KILLER CRABS fame!) would be proud of the chaos depicted here, and the climactic scenes are very funny. A shame the actors are so wooden and the effects so cheap.
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Total crab
StormSworder6 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This film is apparently based on horror writer Guy N.Smith's series of books involving giant crabs mutated by pollution. I've always wondered what it would be like to have a story I've worked long and hard on televised as complete rubbish (but then, the money from the film company who bought the rights for the film did enable GNS to buy a new house in the country, so he can't have been that disappointed). Anyway, Island Claws is the tale of crabs which go on the rampage. I'm sure this film is very scary if you've a phobia of ordinary-sized crabs. For me, the army of little crabs just inspired humour. The human characters are pretty one-dimensional, and the film ends in a showdown with a totally laughable, inoffensive giant crab. Apparently there wasn't the budget for lots of giant crabs, but a sixties Dr Who story gave the impression, through the use of trick photography, that there was an army of giant crabs (and '60s Dr Who was hardly known for having a Hollywood-sized budget). And even their silly-looking giant crab was more convincing than the thing on display here. Worth watching once for a laugh, maybe.
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Please talk through this movie
moonisgod2 July 2000
This was perhaps one of the funniest movies I've seen in a long time. Because it was bad (of course!). There is no reason to sit through this movie seriously like you would with "Schindler's List" or even "Fletch". Talk with your friends through it. Laugh. Make comments. PLEASE!!!! The plot involves little crabs ganging up on people and killing a few (the best scene is where all the tiny crabs manage to overturn a trailer home and catch it on fire). There's a giant paper mache-looking crab too, but I wasn't too sure of its purpose. That goes to show how bad this film was. When you don't know why they had the giant crab (it appears on the box! grrrrr! beware humans!), then it's a bad bad movie.
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Lame Giant Monster Flick
TheExpatriate70027 January 2012
Island Claws is a genuinely bad film, not only by the standards of mainstream cinema, but also compared to other killer animal films. It has extremely lame monsters, bad acting, and fails to adequately explain how the monsters were created.

First and foremost, the film can't seem to decide whether the monster crabs were created by an accident at a nuclear power plant or by a scientist's hormonal experiments on crabs. The beginning of the film highlights an accident at the plant, but the rest of the film concentrates on the crab experiments. It's as if the filmmakers wanted to go with the time worn radiation theme, but decided against it at the last minute. Perhaps it was too tasteless after Three Mile Island.

The film also tries to interject social issues it is in no way equipped to deal with, such as Haitian refugees who get blamed for the crab killings. Seriously, no one wants to know what the makers of this film think about the Haitian refugee issue.

Worst of all is the film's inability to produce a suitably threatening monster. Seriously, for most of the film we are just confronted with large numbers of crabs. Average sized crabs. Seeing people running in terror from these crabs is not frightening, it's laughter inducing. The giant crab, which only appears in the last ten minutes, is incredibly fake looking. Its movements are so jerky they eliminate any real sense of fear.

Even if you like giant monster movies, don't waste your time with this one.
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