Island Claws (Hernan Cardenas, 1980)

posted in: Jocelyn, Review | 0


Killer crabs take over a small island community. There’s a leaking nuclear power plant and lab geeks using growth hormones but whitey is convinced that it’s those damn Haitians and their voodoo causing all the mayhem! Island Claws 1 WM

I’ll be the first to say it; I’m not a fan of killer-animal movies. They’re usually not done very well, rely too much on dated stock footage and in general I get turned off by the idea of the animals being forced do things that don’t come naturally. I guess no one probably wants to watch a cat lick its ass all day, but personally I’d rather be confident that the animal was content and happy.  My bullshit aside, this was a quirky little obscurity that I decided to pop in and give a shot despite my better judgment. I guess I’ll never learn.

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Island Claws attempts to focus on the workers in a research lab that are trying to solve world hunger by splicing DNA and using hormones to grow bigger and better crabs. The only problem is that it shoots off into 13 other stories that never resolve and have nothing to do with the plot. There’s a leak at a nuclear plant that dumps a shit-ton of radioactive water into the ocean and you think “Ok, I get it, it’s the 80’s there’s going to be a big environmental message here with radioactive mutant crabs, blah blah blah”….but no. They never talk about it again! You never find out *what* makes the crabs go on a killing spree…they just do.

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One of the main characters is the daughter of the owner of the nuclear plant who gets involved with a crab scientist (Am I the only one thinking of the STD?) and there’s a huge pointless back-story about how her father accidentally killed his parents in a drunk-driving accident. Guess what? It never comes up again! The crab scientist was raised by some drunk Irish curmudgeon (Robert Lansing – Empire of the Ants, every TV show ever) who is kinda like the alpha male of this shitty little ramshackle fishing community so they keep bouncing back and forth to him and the free-loving patrons of his bar. (Of course he owns a bar; he’s Irish! DUH!) They even throw in a ship of immigrant Haitians floating up to the island one night that are supposed to act as some sort of senseless, racist, red-herring. This movie makes no sense! The head counselor from Friday the 13th Part II (John Furey) is in it for a few minutes to serve up his girlfriend on a platter to some clickity-clacking hungry crustaceans.

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There are so many ridiculous parts of this movie that I can’t even begin to mention them all; besides most of you will likely never check this out anyway. The version I have is so god damned dark & shitty that you can’t even tell what’s going on once the sun goes down. I purposefully capped a night shot so that you could see what I’m talking about; the scene was at least 2 min long. No fucking idea what happened.

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When you are watching a mutant-animal flick you want to see some nice effects and this one kinda delivers but not until the last 20 minutes of the film and by that point you’re tapped and uninterested. There’s a pretty decently large crab that roars around and lets people hang off of its giant mega-claw, but unfortunately it’s a classic case of too little, too late.

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If you happen to find yourself hard up for something that runs the gamut from bland to stupid then this will fit the bill nicely.  I’d suggest having some seafood on hand if you’re so inclined, the endless shots of crabs + fire just left me hungry.  Everyone else steer clear; steer very clear.

Official COSDS Nunspank Rating: NS-1

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Jocelyn lives on 35 acres of woodland in an undisclosed Appalachian location. When not boozing it up or fighting the power she's tending her organic garden or collecting punk/soundtrack albums. Her best friends walk on 4 legs. She does not own a cell phone.

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