Horror Movie Review: Island Claws (1980)

Toxic waste, crabs and the 80s…a very dangerous mix especially for a group of Florida island dwellers.

The premise of Island Claws is ridiculous. It’s crabs after all. Hardly a terrifying prospect even if it is reminiscent of the creatures mixed with radiation 50s-era movies.

On a lovely little island where everyone knows everyone a power plant has caused a few issues within the environment. While it is never explicitly stated, the movie implies that this is the same power plant that causes the crabs to start to behave abnormally.

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The power plant isn’t the only thing that the poor crabs have to contend with though as a research facility is warming the water manually in order to stimulate crab growth.

Photojournalist Jan (Jo McDonnell) wants to document crabs in a laboratory setting & meets a scientist named Pete (Steve Hanks). For most of the movie these are our lead characters as they come to realise something isn’t right with the crab population. The other major character is bar owner Moody (Robert Lansing) who is kind of the island leader as most of the residents turn to him when trouble is brewing.

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It’s something of a surprise that each of these characters are fairly well developed and their relationships believable. A lot of time is spent with these characters and the actors do really well, especially considering the silly narrative.

Island Claws is really slow for most of its run-time though as a few random characters are attacked by crabs. Situations that really highlight just how absurd it is. Crabs aren’t scary and most of these scenes rely heavily on characters acting like idiots when facing a bunch of crabs scuttling about the place.

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They never seem to actually do anything to the characters, instead the characters do it to themselves. One such scene that will elect unintentional hilarity sees a character set his bus home on fire in an attempt to kill the crabs that are inside.

Still, we know what we’re building to here, a finale that reveals one particular crab has grown to enormous size! It’s as silly as the rest of the film but the practical effects are good and while it doesn’t seem to do much beyond wave its claws about, it’s an improvement.

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The final battle with the giant crab goes on for too long and then ends abruptly but it is at least entertaining which can’t be said for the majority of the film.

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Island Claws
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