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June 25, 2012

Attack of the Crab Monsters

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Roger Corman - 1958
Shout! Factory Region 1 DVD

An approximate dual anniversary at the time. It was a little over seven years ago that this blog was launched. It was also approximately fifty years ago (yeah, I'm THAT old) since I saw my first Roger Corman film in a theater.

At the time I saw Attack of the Crab Monsters, it was the day following a surprise goodbye party given to me in June, 1962. In a matter of days, I would be leaving Teaneck, New Jersey for Evanston, Illinois. I'm not sure what was playing at the Teaneck theater at the time, but it must have been something that had no interest to us. Instead, we looked at nearby Hackensack, at one of the two theaters on Main Street. There was some interest in Cabinet of Caligari, based more on the reputation of the silent film, which we might have read about but hadn't seen. After reading about the silent classic in "Famous Monsters of Filmland", I finally saw the original film a few years later, and that reworking by Robert Bloch, a few years ago as well. We settled on the special matinee showing of Corman's film, which was playing with the biblical epic, Herod the Great.

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Was the theater, the Oritani? I can't say for sure. If it weren't for the invitation to see a double feature of Carousel and The King and I on my last day in in Teaneck, there would have been some sort of symmetry, as the first film I saw when I moved to Teaneck was Hercules, also in Hackensack. Some movie going experiences are more memorable than others, and I recall seeing what must have been an hour's worth of cartoons, primarily from Warner Brothers. And there may have been more previews, but I do recall vaguely those for The Leech Woman, and The Brides of Dracula. The latter made a real impression on me as the film became something that I wanted to see from that point on. I had to wait decades, first for the VHS version, and later, the DVD. What can I say, for this ten year old boy, those Hammer starlets were the sexiest women he had ever seen.

I haven't seen Herod the Great since that first time. If the opportunity arose for another viewing, it would be primarily to catch classic Italian cutie pie Sandra Milo.

As for Attack of the Crab Monsters, I had caught it at least once on television, and again theatrically as part of a Roger Corman retrospective that took place at New York City's Kips Bay Theater, almost forty years ago. Seeing it again on DVD, it doesn't hold up as well for me as some of the other Corman films from the era before he took on Edgar Allan Poe. I don't know when I started being conscious of Corman's name except that I eventually realized that I was watching a bunch of films he had something to do with, and that I was fascinated, even though these were films that weren't good for me, as compared to something by Stanley Kramer. And I could not foresee a future where Roger Corman would be the first director I would interview, for one of the student run newspapers at New York University.

What affection I have for Attack of the Crab Monsters might be attributed to what the place the film has in my lifelong cinephilia, as well as the experience of watching the film at a time of single screen movie palaces and matinee shows more or less pegged for children. The price of admission could not have been more than fifty cents, so I certainly got my money's worth. What also was revealed over an extended period of time is that for those devoted to cinema is that even the most seemingly random film watched in childhood may become more meaningful in the most unexpected ways.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at June 25, 2012 08:08 AM


Happy seventh blogiversary to you, Peter! I didn't see Attack of the Crab Monsters in the theater, but I also have strong memories of this one, having watched it on a local TV station one Saturday night at a time when local stations still did that sort of thing.

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Posted by: Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. at June 25, 2012 10:41 AM