Wednesday, October 21, 2015

QUEEN CRAB

While I have been a big fan of indie monster movie maestro Brett Piper (SHOCK-O-RAMA, SCREAMING DEAD) for a long time, I kind of lost track of him over the last few years. It turns out that he's still plugging away, making ambitious creature features on microscopic budgets, including his current monsterpiece from Wild Eye Releasing, QUEEN CRAB (2015).

In Crabbe Creek, a small rural community, a young girl named Melissa adopts a precocious crustacean she names PeeWee. As it happens, her distracted dad is a scientist working out of a home laboratory, attempting to increase the size of fruits, vegetables and livestock, in hopes of combating world hunger. Ignored by her bickering parents, little Melissa starts feeding PeeWee some weird berries from her daddy's lab...

Jump ahead about fifteen years, and Melissa's folks are dead, thanks to an unfortunate laboratory explosion. She lives alone in a cabin on her family's property, a virtual hermit. At night, the nubile young woman (Michelle Simone Miller) communes with her pet, now named "Goliath," and about the size of Sherman tank. Unfortunately, Goliath spawns a hungry horde of crawling killer offspring, and it's up to Sheriff Clarke (Ken Van Sant), his obnoxious deputy (Richard Lounell) and an investigator from the state Wildlife Commission (A.J. DeLucia) to save the town from the mighty Goliath and her voracious crablings.

Shot on digital video with a tiny budget, QUEEN CRAB is a fun little monster movie that hearkens back to 50's sci-fi programmers, with a light tone, frequently witty script, and Old School special effects. The crabs are created via the magic of traditional stop-motion animation instead of CGI, executed with skill and style by Piper himself.

The performances from the cast of semi-pros and amateur actors are inconsistent, to say the least, ranging from campy to wooden, but Piper's direction is brisk, and the creature effects are a genuine delight.

Wild Eye Releasing's DVD is terrific, with a flawless, 16x9 widescreen transfer and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. The sound mix is admittedly underwhelming, with some brief instances where dialogue levels drop sharply, but overall, it's satisfactory. Jon Greathouse's musical score is mixed well, and is quite effective. The generous supplemental features include an audio commentary by Piper and producer Mark Polonia, a gag reel, three behind-the-scenes featurettes, an assortment of Wild Eye trailers, and a preview of Piper's next movie, TRICLOPS.

QUEEN CRAB isn't a movie for everyone - the cheapness of the production is always evident and that can be hard for more cynical viewers to overlook - but it has a "let's put on a show!" earnestness that can be endearing, if approached with an open mind. Recommended.