Sunday, 20 December 2015

20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)


An entertaining, fast-paced, well-made, and intelligently crafted sci-fi film


Directed by Nathan H. Juran
Produced by Charles H. Schneer
Written by Charlotte Knight, Ray Harryhausen.
Screenplay by Bob Williams, Christopher Knopf
Narrated by William Woodson
Music by Mischa Bakaleinikoff
Cinematography: Irving Lippman, Carlo Ventimiglia
Edited by Edwin Bryant
Production company: Morningside Productions
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Running time: 82 minutes


Cast



William Hopper as Robert Calder
Joan Taylor as Marisa Leonardo
Frank Puglia as Dr. Leonardo
John Zaremba as Dr. Judson Uhl
Thomas Browne Henry as Maj. Gen. A.D. McIntosh

Tito Vuolo as Police Commissioner Unte
Jan Arvan as Contino
Arthur Space as Dr. Sharman
Bart Bradley as Pepe
Ray Harryhausen cameo (zoo)


video
Colourised Clip


What if........ 

Nocrus & Eliosh are beings from a civilization many light years distant from Earth. Their planet is part of a confederation of planets, each of whose dominant, intelligent and advanced forms of life have managed to achieve varying degrees of interplanetary space travel.

Nocrus & Eliosh are now engaged in their final series of observations that will be incorporated in their report on the small blue planet which is the third planet of the unremarkable yellow sun’s system of planets in an equally unremarkable sector of the galaxy.

Nocrus & Eliosh have been tasked with observing the little planet’s dominant and technologically developed sentient bipedal life form which has given itself the label, 'Homo Sapiens.' They have faithfully performed this task for the last 5000 years. It is the only fair way for them to gain a true sense of human progress and development as opposed to their ability to engage in brief insertions into humanity's time periods.

Their own species’ life-span and concept of time is vastly different to our own, as is their chemical and molecular composition and structure. Unlike our own linear perception of time, Nocrus and Eliosh's civilization as a matter of course, view the past, present and future as existing simultaneously and they generally live their lives accordingly. If they wish, they can insert themselves into any point in time. Nocrus and Eliosh, like the rest of their species, have a fluid and viscous molecular composition which they can reconstitute into a variety of shapes and forms, including our own if they wish to.

What is of prime interest to Nocrus & Eliosh at this point in time is the fact that the intelligent primates of earth have finally managed to look upward, imagine the possibilities, reach out beyond the confines of their home world and venture out into the void that separates one world from another.


Spoilers Follow.....





Nocrus: The humans’ primitive ship is entering the planet’s atmosphere. Our bio-drones are observing it as it breaks though the cloud cover and crashes into the sea near a fishing village in a place they call Sicily. So much for our little ape’s attempt to move out of his orbit to a point little more than 20 million miles to earth!





Eliosh: See how those fisherman are beginning leave the area, but as soon as they realize that there might be people trapped inside the wrecked vessel, they now decide to go back to investigate. Our remote sensors picked up the words of one of the fisherman: “What are we, children or men of the sea? We go back!”





See their courage as they locate a hole in the hull and enter to search for survivors. See how they descend through a tangle of pipes and steam into what must be for them a form of hell as they make their way to the control room. They have at least managed to find two badly injured men alive.

Notice the crossing sign one of the humans is making? It signifies a form of religious worship of which we never managed to achieve the status of deities as we did with those religions of the Egyptians and Greeks millennia ago.

Nocrus: Yes, since the good old days, the adoption of that damn monotheism took away all the fun. Still, no need to mention that little episode in our final report!

Eliosh: Perhaps this form of faith - “Christianity” I believe they call it - acts to sustain them and gives them the necessary courage to face danger and rescue the injured crew men just before those explosions rock the vessel and cause it to sink.






Nocrus: More likely a superstitious appeal for protection in the face of perceived evil. How do these beings cope with all these different faiths; different sects within each religion; different regions defined by boarders; multiple languages and customs and each one believing that it has right on its side! And we’re contemplating admitting this divided and backward species to the Galactic Confederation?

Nocrus: One of our hybrid clone operatives stationed close to the seat of power in this planet’s major tribe, has sent me a neuro-telepathic message from the capital city called Washington DC. Tap into this and you’ll see that at a meeting with a military man by the name of Major General McIntosh and a Doctor Uhl it had been assumed the human space craft was lost with all hands. A report has subsequently arrived identifying the location of the crash as being in Sicily. It seems that McIntosh and Uhl will be on their way to Sicily to investigate. Let the game begin!

Eliosh: Indeed! Let’s see how this investigation transpires and how these humans will handle what it is come (literally!) from their first foray to another world…..

......................................... 


Eliosh: One of our operatives has informed me that a Commissar Charra - apparently some kind of official - is collecting information from the rescuers about what they saw inside the ship. It is surmised that the crew had to be bigger than just the three men due to (for them) the sheer size of the ship.

Nocrus: Oh yes! Officialdom and bureacracy. The one thing to spoil anyone’s day and foul up whatever is working just fine. That’s something we have in common with humans!





Eliosh: One of our bio-drones has spotted one of the immature humans, who the others in the village call Pepe and who we saw during the rescue attempt. Ah, he’s located the canister on the nearby beach and is now burying it. But why? He doesn’t even know what’s inside it!

Ah, it looks like he’s been called away now to answer some questions about an American doctor who is visiting the area. What do they call him: “The old man with a house on the wheels?” Ha! Ha! Apparently this man is called Dr Leonardo and is a doctor of zoology. He is also accompanied by his granddaughter who has been described as being ….”almost a doctor!” Ha! Ha! Ha! It looks like Pepe has been told to go and fetch the American doctor to treat the injured human crew men.

Nocrus: Now, here’s something interesting. On the way to the doctor, our friend Pepe is making straight for the canister. Now he opens it up and removes its precious gelatinous contents which he proceeds to wrap in a blanket. Now why would he do that, do you suppose?

Eliosh: Well, let’s see as Pepe has managed to locate our good Doctor Leonardo. It appears that he being a zoologist, it would be better that his “almost a doctor” granddaughter would be more suited to the task of caring for the injured humans. She is called Marisa and is what’s termed a “medical student.”

Nocrus: I don’t know how these humans can be so used to having their skills and knowledge subjected to such degrees of specialization and fragmentation. Our own development and understanding of the universe has sprung from a unified and holistic approach instead of being the result of the sprouting of individual branches of knowledge. How I miss those humans from the historical period they call 'The Renaissance!'

Eliosh: Especially our good friend, Leonardo Da Vinci. What a mind for a human! So open to new ideas…..





Nocrus: We’d better leave that out of the report too! Speaking of Leonardo, it seems as if our good Doctor Leonardo has been paying Pepe to recover specimens for his own studies. So now we know why Pepe has been doing what he has been doing. See how he shows the doctor the contents of the canister and negotiates to sell it for “200 lire” which we have often witnessed is how these humans engage in commercial transactions.

So, let’s recap. The earth’s first contact with a life form from another planet has resulted in that life form being ripped from its home world; secured in a container; washed ashore from a wrecked space vehicle; half buried in sand and bartered by a child who wishes to buy an over-sized hat from a place called “Texas” and who by the way also idolizes weapon-wielding thugs whom he refers to as “cowboys!” And all this before the little Venusian “Ymir” has had a chance to hatch from its gelatinous sac and ask to be taken to their leader! Potential members of the Galactic Confederation – Really!

Eliosh: Never mind that right now. One of our insect bio-drones is transmitting from the village hospital where we can see Marisa trying to make the injured humans as comfortable as possible. One of the males is called Col Robert Calder and the other survivor is a Dr. Sharman whose condition is “critical.” Not surprising considerating how primitive their medical treatments are, not to mention their own pitiful capacity for self-repair and maintenance. It seems that 8 crew members have previously perished from a fatal disease and Sharman has now become the 9th. victim.

Eliosh: Our arachnid drone is providing us with a marvelous view of the miracle of the hatching of our little Ymir from the gelatinous mass. Let's listen to the humans' reactions;







Dr Leonardo: “No scientific record of such a creature.”

Nocrus: Seems like the older human is more fascinated by the anatomy of the beast and sees it more as being a scientific curiosity or discovery.

Eliosh: Yes, but listen to his granddaughter;

Marisa: “So very ugly and yet it seems so frightened.”

Eliosh: Evidence of a capacity for empathy despite repulsion based on physical appearances?

Nocrus: At any rate, Leonardo is moving the Ymir to a cage where it will be left overnight until further examination can be made of it. How many creatures of their own planet have these humans locked up, caged, confined, tied up and conducted their experiments on!

............................. 


Next Day 

Eliosh: Welcome back Nocrus. While you were on the other side of the planet, I was observing Dr Leonardo examining the cage and you should have seen his expression when he discovered how much the creature had grown in just a few hours. I made a recording of it for you.

Nocrus: Think how surprised they'll be to learn that there are beings on planets who live their whole life cycle (growth included) in the space of less than one earth day. Remember that planet whose evolution proceeded at an extremely rapid pace with species developing and becoming extinct in months and with even civilizations rising and falling in a matter of weeks? Our old human friend Shakespeare summed it up well when he wrote: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” He certainly loved our conversations and derived a great deal of inspiration from them! Perhaps we should have asked him about humanity's suitability seeing as he seemed to have had such insight into the human condition.

Eliosh: Dr Leonardo has now gone off to locate Pepe to learn exactly where the creature was found.

Nocrus: Eliosh, plug into this report from the local human clone operative. It seems that McIntosh and Uhl from Washington have arrived and have met with Col Calder. The representative of the Italian government, Commissario Charra has been briefed on events, including the fact that a biological specimen has gone missing and that it is an unborn life form from the planet Venus.

It appears that Pepe has admitted that he was the one who found the cylinder and that he sold the specimen to Doctor Leonardo who is now on route to Rome with the creature. A nocturnal bio drone should be transmitting about now.....

Eliosh: Ah, there's Leonardo. He seems to have come to a halt on the side of the road and is refastening one of the ropes on the cage which has come loose. So, he theorizes that the creature is a mutation or a throwback to something prehistoric.

Nocrus: It's amazing how many blunders these humans have made and will no doubt continue to make as they persist in making conclusions about the rest of the universe (let alone any other universe) based on their limited experience on this speck of a planet!

Eliosh: Look! Our intelligent but not so little Ymir is using the opportunity to break free and escape! Leonardo is just checking on Marisa who was injured by the creature. Here comes Calder who is having the latest episode explained to him. Off he now goes in search of the creature through the nearby farmlands.

Nocrus: Now we should see just how these humans respond to a life form from beyond their own planet. I bet I can guess.....

Eliosh: Perhaps, but take note of what Marisa just said: “I guess I frightened it as much as it frightened me.” Surely an indication of some capacity to empathize with and understand another creature's point of view?

Let's watch the Ymir as it makes its way toward a farm. See how the horses and sheep, I believe they're called, flee from it whereas a solitary little lamb appears unafraid. It is innocent and has not had time to learn fear. The Ymir must instinctively know this and will not harm the inoffensive little creature.

Nocrus: The Ymir appears to be confused and now finds itself in a barn causing the other animals to become agitated. It is now moving towards what appears to be a storage area where it has located a bag of.....(obtaining remote analysis....) sulfur. It's beginning to consume the contents, so now we know what its nutritional requirements are.






Oh, here we go! One of those noisy unpredictable quadrupeds favored by the humans as pets is attacking the Ymir. All I can see now is a shadow on the barn wall which suggests that the Ymir has fought back and has either killed or injured the ….”canine” I think they call them.

Eliosh: Then why is that farmer who has been drawn by the noise of the two animals fighting calling it a “Carlo?”

Nocrus: Sometimes you can be a real idiot, Eliosh! It's the canine's name! Speaking of idiots, the farmer is attempting to shoot the creature. But wait! Here comes Calder on the scene. Let's hear what he is saying;

Calder: “The creature has to be taken alive.......They're not ferocious unless provoked.”






An attempt at capturing the creature is now underway and they appear to be poking and prodding the Ymir in order to maneuver it into a cage on a cart. And this an example of not provoking it?





Of course the ignorant farmer has decided to get in on the act and has just now plunged a pitchfork into the creature, causing it to attack him. How did they expect it to react?





Oh look at that, they now decide it would be a good idea to belt the Ymir over the head with a farm implement to save their fallen comrade! How often have we witnessed wars erupt on this planet in a similar manner throughout the last 5000 years!

After distracting the beast with gunfire, Calder has managed to rescue the farmer and they now all flee the barn, locking the Ymir inside. Welcome to the planet Earth. Hope you enjoy your stay......



..........................



Eliosh: That's it, run little Ymir! See Nocrus, he's managed to escape during the night. The humans have learned from Dr Sharman's notes that the creature lives on sulfur and they have surmised that it is probably heading for sulfur deposits around a place called Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano on the continent of Europe.

Nocrus: Hardly worthy of the term “volcano” when compared to volcanic activity elsewhere in this solar system and throughout the galaxy. Well, what a surprise! Charra has informed Calder that the Italian government will not allow any further attempts to capture the creature. It is felt that the creature is far too dangerous. Can you believe that? Only the Ymir knows what it must think of the strange human creatures shooting, prodding and poking at it, not to mention chasing and trying to capture it.

Eliosh:
Well, there's some hope as Calder has made a deal that if he can locate the creature first, he can attempt to capture it before Charra's forces set about destroying it. If I understand Calder's plan correctly, it involves the use of two primitive and ungainly aerial vehicles called 'helicopters.' One will be loaded with sulfur as bait in order to entice the creature. The second craft will have a net that will be dropped onto the creature once it is distracted.

Nocrus: Yes, it appears that the Ymir is susceptible to the force of an electric shock and that the nets will be electrically charged. What a choice: death or electrocution followed by capture. Don't we want species in the Confederation that have the capacity to communicate, cooperate and befriend those from other civilizations in the galaxy? Upon their first contact with the inhabitants of another planet, this lot will probably try to – how does that saying go? “Shoot first and ask questions later.”

Eliosh:
Well, the shooting has well and truly started with the arrival of Charra's forces. One of our drones has been inadvertently destroyed by gunfire. Their primitive percussion weapons, however are not sufficient to vanquish the creature.






Calder's group has now arrived and the sulfur bait is having its desired effect. There goes the net. The Ymir is struggling but not for long as the electric shock running through the net has paralysed it.

Nocrus: You know, with a few tweaks we could redesign that method of immobilizing and incorporate it into a device much like a hand gun. We could have the plans for its construction implanted in one of our hybrid science operative's mind and the humans could use it as part of their non-lethal law enforcement arsenal.

Eliosh: You know we can't – er not supposed to do things like that. Besides, they'll eventually figure it out for themselves over time.

Later

Eliosh: Where has Nocrus disappeared to now? I can't seem to establish a neural telepathic link with him. He has switched off access to that portion of his mind for now. I hope he isn't working on that stun-gun idea of his. We've made enough unauthorized “contributions” to human progress over the last 5000 years! I'll just upload my observations to our shared neural information & communication repository. Nocrus can access it when he is ready.

Upload Commencing.......


A hybrid clone operative posing as a media representative is now reporting from the US embassy in Rome where General McIntosh is briefing the press on the whole situation. I can see and hear events as they occur via the hybrid's ocular and aural implants. What luck! The operative has been selected as one of the press representatives permitted to visit the zoo where the Ymir is being held.






Oh my! Perhaps you were right about these humans after all, Nocrus. It sickens me to see the poor creature being chained down and kept unconscious with a continuous electrical current while tests are being performed on it.

Calder is now introducing the press to the scientists who are examining and experimenting on the creature. The scientists have established that the creature's metabolic rate has been upset by the Earth's atmosphere; that it has a highly developed olfactory sense; that its respiratory system blocks out poisons and that it possesses a network of tubes instead of heart and lungs.







Nocrus, I know that you would be disgusted to learn that these barbaric creatures have attached a wire to the Ymir's wrist, allowing 1800 volts of electricity to course through its body in order to keep it immobile.





Another experiment is being performed on the hapless creature and...Wait a moment,......some mishap has caused the equipment producing the paralyzing electrical current to be destroyed. The Ymir is beginning to revive and is breaking free of its bonds and …......



Back On Earth

A Special Report From Radiotelevisione Italiana


We are sorry for this interruption to normal programming, but an incredible event has occurred at the zoo in our capital city of Roma! We now cross over to our live broadcast unit and our reporter on the scene, Liberto Canzano.


Liberto: Thank you Giuseppe. A strange and terrifying creature has apparently broken out of the Zoo here in Roma and is engaged in a titanic battle with one of the zoo's enraged elephants.





There is absolute pandemonium as zoo patrons panic as the battle between the elephant and the creature continues.





Word has just come to me that an Americano general by the name of McIntosh who has been working in conjunction with the armed forces of Italia has authorized the use of tanks and artillery to destroy the creature.





As you can see the elephant has been fatally wounded by this monstrous creature which seems to have fled somewhere into the city.





It now appears that the creature has disappeared into the Tiber River and troops can be seen blasting the river in an attempt to force the beast to the surface. Yes, I believe this measure has worked! The creature is now emerging from the river and is pushing up though the bridge. It is now making its way toward the Coliseum.






We are now at the Coliseum and can see infantry together with a flame throwing tank attacking the creature. Two Americano officers appear to have taken charge of the operation and the troops are attempting to locate the creature which has for now disappeared.

We can now see the beast as tries to escape by climbing higher up the Coliseum's structure. There is nowhere for it go and it has become a target for the barrage of bazooka and tank fire. Mama Mia! The noise is deafening. The creature appears to be wounded, but wait! The creature is now toppling from its last refuge as it appears that it has received a direct hit from a shell..........






Eliosh: Nocrus, you're back! Have you downloaded all the information I supplied? Where and when were you? Why did you cut off access to your neural telepathic link? What were you doing while this disgraceful atrocity was being performed? Are you alright?





Nocrus: See how quiet and subdued the onlookers seem to be as a blanket of silence wraps the ghastly scene on the very spot where cruel games of combat and sacrifices of innocents were performed. Do you think these spectators have been sufficiently entertained?

Where was I? Fortunate that a stray projectile that wound up in just the right place and the right time managed to strike the creature. Better that the Ymir face the peace of eternity than the possibility of a life in confinement on this primitive backwater of a planet as just a specimen for these alien creatures to use for their own ends.

Eliosh: We do have to complete the report on the humans' potential for membership of the Galactic Confederation. But I think the words of Dr. Judson Uhl somehow best sum up what can generally be concluded from our observations of 5000 years' worth of human progress and specifically from their first contact with an extraterrestrial life form;

Dr. Judson Uhl: Why is change so costly for man to move from the present to the future?


Nocrus: I feel that the cost to the universe itself would be too much to bare should we permit these humans to interact with other species beyond their own planet.....






Points Of Interest



  • The city of Rome was chosen as the location for the filming of 20 Million Miles to Earth because Ray Harryhausen wanted to vacation there. 

  • 20 Million Miles to Earth had been released under the title of The Beast from Space. 

  • The working title of the film was The Giant Ymir, but in the film version that was released, the creature is never called a Ymir. It was felt that the word "Ymir" sounded too much like the Arabic title of "Emir" and that this might cause some confusion. 

  • Ray Harryhausen wanted the film to be shot in color, but the film's budget would not have made this possible. 

  • 20 Million Miles To Earth stands as a showcase for the work of Ray Harryhausen, the master of stop-motion animation. Ray Harryhausen trained under Willis O'Brian (The Lost World 1925 & King Kong 1933) who pioneered the stop-motion process. 

  • In many respects 20 Million Miles To Earth stands as a homage to King Kong and nowhere is this more evident than in the battle scene between the Ymir and the elephant and the final battle scene between the Ymir and the military at the Coliseum. We also wind feeling sympathy for both King Kong and the Ymir who are characters in their own right and cease to be merely special effects stop motion models. 

  • The Ymir is also similar to the creature in the film, the Creature from the Black Lagoon. You can't help but empathize with the Ymir as it is evident that the real monsters are the human beings. It is this stranger within our society that is essentially harmless unless provoked and is humanity's conduct and attitudes towards this stranger that are being commented on. 

  • The young character Pepe aspires to a kind of capitalist ideal of accumulating wealth in order to buy symbols of status which in his eyes is a big Texas hat. Pepe looks up to a symbol, an idealized vision of self in relation to the rest of the world: an American cowboy straight off the silver screen blasting away with his guns at the bad guys. Little boys, however grow into big boys and become politicians and military leaders who come to believe that the problem of the big bad Ymirs of the world can be solved by recourse to force of arms. And while being mired in conflicts far from home in foreign lands, is any thought given as to who might have been responsible for causing the problem of the big bad Ymir turning into a fully-fledged monster in the first place?........





VENUS FACT FILE




  • Venus (the goddess of love and beauty) known as Aphrodite by the ancient Greeks and as Ishtar by the Babylonians
  • Regarded as Earth's sister planet but is certainly no identical twin 
  • One of the least hospitable places for life in the solar system 
  • Second planet from the Sun 
  • Sixth largest planet in the solar system 
  • Brightest object in the sky except for the Sun and the Moon 
  • Most circular orbit of any planet 
  • Geologically quiet for the past few hundred million years, but still volcanically active in some places




  • Like Earth, contains an iron core about 3000 km in radius and a molten rocky mantle 
  • Shows phases when viewed using a telescope 
  • Distance: 108,200,000 km from the Sun 
  • 95% of Earth's diameter: 12,103.6 km
  • 80% of Earth's mass 
  • Similar density and chemical composition to Earth




  • Atmosphere: Dense with pressure at the surface being 90 atmospheres which is equivalent to the pressure at a depth of 1 km in Earth's oceans. Composed primarily of carbon dioxide with cloud layers many kilometers thick composed of sulfuric acid which obscure our view of the surface. 
  • Surface temperature: Over 740 K which is hot enough to melt lead. Produced by run-away greenhouse effect





  • Surface conditions: Dry but once may have had large amounts of water that boiled away. Surface consists of gently rolling plains with little relief and few craters due to earlier extensive volcanic activity. Much of the surface of Venus is covered by lava flows with the oldest terrains being about 800 million years old. 
  • No magnetic field (Why?) 
  • No satellites (Why?) 
  • Rotation: 243 Earth days per Venus day, slightly longer than its year
  • Always presents the same face toward Earth when the two planets are at their closest approach





  • Mariner 2 (US) was the first spacecraft to visit Venus in 1962. Venera 9 (USSR) returned the first photographs of the surface.



  • "Transit of Venus": when Venus passes directly between the Earth and the Sun and is seen as a black dot moving across the Sun's disk. The last one was in 2012 but if you missed it, you'll have to wait until 2117! Who knows? By then we might be permitted to join the Galactic Confederation! 


©Chris Christopoulos 2015

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

A Tribute To Russell Johnson



“I am the Professor, and that's the way it is.”

(November 10, 1924 – January 16, 2014)

Russell Johnson was best known for playing Professor Roy Hinkley (the "Professor") on Gilligan's Island which aired from 1964 to 1967. Johnson had to deal with the fact that throughout a large part of his acting career he was to be typecast as a generic scientist or professor-type character.


Childhood & Family

  • Born on November 10, 1924, in Ashley, in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania 
  • Parents: Russell Kennedy Johnson who died of pneumonia (1901-1932) and Minnie Wenonah Smink-Johnson (1902-1976) who was re-married to Thomas S. Lewis 
  • Siblings: Brothers:- Kenneth (1925-2012), David (1926-1976), and Paul Wesley (1932-1933). Sisters:- Lorraine Johnson-Crosby and Marian L. Johnson-Reeves (1923-2010) 
  • Education: attended Girard College, a private boarding school in Philadelphia for fatherless boys


Military Career

  • Enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces as an aviation cadet 
  • After completion of training, commissioned a second lieutenant 
  • Flew 44 combat missions in the Pacific Theater during World War II as a bombardier in B-25 twin-engine medium bombers 
  • March 4, 1945, shot down during a low-level bombing and strafing run against Japanese military targets in the Philippine Islands, while flying as a navigator in a B-25. Johnson’s B-25 had to ditch in the sea. Both of his ankles were broken in the landing 
  • Johnson was awarded a Purple Heart as well the Air Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three campaign stars, the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one campaign star, and the World War II Victory Medal 
  • November 22, 1945 after Japan's surrender, Johnson was honorably discharged as a first lieutenant


Acting Career

Johnson undertook acting studies at the Actors' Lab in Hollywood where he met actress Kay Cousins (1923-1980), whom he married in 1949.

He appeared with friend Audie Murphy in Column South and Tumbleweed in 1953 and Ride Clear of Diablo in 1954.

Johnson's early roles were mostly in westerns such as Law and Order and various TV series including;



  • Rod Cameron's crime drama, City Detective 
  • The religion anthology series Crossroads
  • Guest starring in the NBC western series, The Californians 
  • A recurring role as Marshal Gib Scott on ABC's western series, Black Saddle 
  • Four appearances in the military drama, The Silent Service, based on actual stories of the submarine section of the United States Navy
More significantly for the purposes of this blog, Johnston appeared in significant 1950s science fiction films and series episodes such as;
  • The Adventures Of Superman “The Runaway Robot” (1953)



  • It Came from Outer Space (1953) playing the role of George the linesman, just one of the townspeople who start disappearing but who later shows up in town, acting quite unlike himself. An alien speaks through George revealing that he is part of the crew of an extraterrestrial ship which inadvertently crash-landed on Earth



This Island Earth (1955) playing the role of scientist Dr. Steve Carlson. He, together with fellow scientists, Meacham and Adams, try to escape from Exeter whose activities and very presence Meacham is suspicious about. Russell Johnson has a small role but his character is quite heroic





  • Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957) playing the role Hank Chapman the technician who is the real hero of the film. Funny how he struggled putting together a workable radio but could easily at a moment’s notice whip up a device to immobilize or kill a giant crab! We wouldn’t expect less from the “Professor.” 
  • The Space Children (1958) in which Russell Johnson is cast as the rather menacing alcoholic step father of one of the children



  • Twilight Zone “Execution” (1960) playing the role of a college professor 
  • Twilight Zone “Back There” (1961) in which his character attempts to prevent the assassination of Abraham Lincoln 
  • Outer limits “Specimen Unknown” (1964) in which Johnson appeared as a crewmember on a U.S. space station


Post-Gilligan's Island

  • Johnson went on to appear in several movies and television shows, guest starring in such TV series as The Big Valley, The Invaders, Ironside, The F.B.I, and Gunsmoke. 
  • He had a daughter Kim and son David with his second wife Kay Cousins. 
  • In 1982, Johnson married Constance "Connie" Dane. Johnson was married three times
  • Johnson published his memoirs, Here on Gilligan's Isle, in 1993.
  • David Johnson died of AIDS-related complications on October 27, 1994
  • On January 16, 2014 Russell Johnson died from kidney failure at his home in Bainbridge Island, Washington at the age of 89

Russell Johnson will always be remembered as an accomplished actor who had some great supporting roles in some of the finest classic sci-fi films from the 1950s. Like us, his characters were not supermen types who could rise to meet any challenge and win. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. There are times when we are strong and times when we aren’t. Yes, we’re human and in films there are flawed human-type characters as well who need that certain kind of actor who can portray them well. Russell Johnson was one such actor. Of course, we’ll also remember a certain screen character's crazy inventions that didn’t always seem to work the way he intended or how his fellow castaways hoped they would! But like Gilligan, we always had faith in the “Professor.”






©Chris Christopoulos 2015

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)

A film with shortcomings, many plot holes and poor production values but replete with imagination


Directed by Roger Corman
Produced by Roger Corman
Written by Charles B. Griffith
Music by Ronald Stein
Cinematography: Floyd Crosby
Edited by Charles Gross
Distributed by
Running time: 62 min
Budget: $70,000
Box office: $1 million


Cast


Richard Garland: Dale Drewer
Pamela Duncan: Martha Hunter
Russell Johnson: Hank Chapman
Leslie Bradley: Dr. Karl Weigand
Mel Welles: Jules Deveroux
Richard H. Cutting: Dr. James Carson
Beach Dickerson: Seaman Ron Fellows
Tony Miller: Seaman Jack Sommers
Ed Nelson: Ensign Quinlan
Maitland Stuart: Seaman Mac
Charles B. Griffith: Seaman Tate


Attack of the Crab Monsters is probably not one of my favourite Corman films, but it is what it is: a low budget teen drive-in flick. Nevertheless, the film does have a good mixture of action and suspense. The low budget consequences such as the crab creature itself were somewhat overcome by the use of tight close-ups of the creature and revealing it in its entirety only until later in the film.

At the end of the day (God, I hate that phrase!), I guess you can’t argue with the fact that even though the film was made on a paltry $70,000 budget, it did manage to return $1 million. Not a bad investment!



video
Trailer


Spoilers by the bucket load follow……



Attack of the Crab Monsters opens with credits overlaid over a montage of abstract drawings depicting enormous and demonic-looking aquatic creatures. This is followed by a warning in the form of scrolling text that serves to introduce an ominous tone and set the scene for what is about to follow.



Playing firmly on the fears at the time surrounding the possibility of atomic apocalypse, the audience is presented with shots of mushroom clouds. The message is that this is what awaits us if we continue to flout the laws of nature. This is then underscored by a final shot of an explosion out at sea followed by a typhoon obliterating coastal houses.




Just in case we missed the point, a stentorian voice emanates from an ominously dark clouded sky and dishes out a dose of Genesis, (or at least a version of it);

"And the Lord said, I will scorn man who I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast and creeping thing and the fowls of the air, for it repenteth me that I have made them."







“I Will Scorn Man” 
The fear we feel of what lurks around the corner: 
The force of consequence awaiting our transgression 
Of laws forbidding self-destruction, 
On pain of divine execution.

*****

“You are about to land in a lonely zone of terror... on an uncharted atoll in the Pacific! You are part of The Second Scientific Expedition dispatched to this mysterious bit of coral reef and volcanic rock. The first group has disappeared without a trace! Your job is to find out why! There have been rumors about this strange atoll... frightening rumors about happenings way out beyond the laws of nature...”




A launch from a seaplane approaches a beach on a small Pacific Island. When the boat reaches the beach, a group of men and one woman disembark. They are part of the second expeditionary team to visit the island. We have leader and nuclear physicist, Dr. Karl Weigand (Leslie Bradley); geologist, Dr. James Carson (Richard Cutting); meteorologist, Jules Deveroux (Mel Welles); biologists, Martha Hunter (Pamela Duncan) and her fiancé, Dale Drewer (Richard Garland). We also have the radio man, Hank Chapman (Russell Johnson) and the demolition experts, seamen Jack Sommers (Tony Miller) and Ron Fellows (Beach Dickerson).

The seaplane pilot, Ensign Quinlan (Ed Nelson) wishes to leave due to an approaching storm. He had been on the island on a previous occasion to rescue the first team of scientists who were sent to study the island. No trace of this first group, however, has ever been found.

The setting of this small South Pacific island is close to a recent US Navy H-bomb test-firing site. The island received the worst of the fallout from the explosion, and the military sent the first team of scientists to check out the island. The disappearance of the first team is thought to have been due to them being carried away when a typhoon suddenly struck the island. The project is considered to be too important to be abandoned, so that is why this second team has been sent there.


Jules Deveroux: Strange. We can see only a small part of the island from this spot, but yet you can feel lack of welcome - lack of abiding life, huh? 

Ensign Quinlan: Yeah, I felt the same when I came here before to rescue your first group. I not only knew that they were gone but that they were lost, completely and forever, body and soul.


Back on the beach, Jules wonders if the ghosts of the scientists from the first team are still on the island. “Maybe their bodies are gone, but who can tell of their souls, eh? Maybe if I call to them, they will answer - their ghosts will answer.” He shouts the name of Dr. MacLean, one of the members of that first team, but receives only the squawking response of sea birds.

As a second launch approaches the shore, it seems to be experiencing some difficulty. Suddenly, a sailor stands up in the boat, loses his footing and falls overboard. Under the water, the sailor looks down only to see a giant crab looming towards him. He frantically tries to swim to the surface, and is eventually pulled out of the water, minus his head!

The inexplicable and troubling aspect of this tragedy is that apart from noisy seagulls and beady-eyed land crabs, there is no evidence of any other marine creature that could inflict such a mortal injury.

We have only been given the briefest of glimpses of the kind of menace that will be featured in this film. This will serve to maintain the suspense and audience expectations. Being a rather ordinary prop, an initial brief glimpse will (not very successfully) also lessen possible audience disappointment or expressions of mirth.


Dr. Karl Weigand: Lieutenant, I don't want to annoy you again, but nothing was left? Not a hair nor a fingernail clipping? Only McLane's journal? 
Ensign Quinlan: The Navy thinks they were all at sea in their small boat when the typhoon hit. "Lost with all hands" is an old story.

Later on, everyone assembles on the beach to see Quinlan off. He promises to return in no more than a month. Suddenly, the island is rocked by an earthquake and series of explosions causing a rock slide close to the sailors. From the cliffs the scientists watch the seaplane depart.

Hank explains what has led to everyone being on the island:



Hank Chapman: Well, you remember that first big H-bomb test - the one that blew Elugelab Island right out of the ocean? 

Seaman Ron Fellows: Well, who forgets that? 

Hank Chapman: "A tremendous amount of the radioactive fallout came this way. A great seething, burning cloud of it sank into this area, blanketing the island with hot ashes and radioactive seawater. Dr. Weigand's group is here to study fallout effects at their worst. Dr. James Carson is a geologist. He'll try to learn what's happening to the soil. The botanist, Jules Deveroux, will examine all the plant life for radiation poisoning. Martha Hunter and Dale Brewer are biologists. He works on land animalism while she takes care of the seafood. Dr. Karl Weigand is a nuclear physicist. He'll collect their findings and relate them to the present theories on the effects of too much radiation……."


The scientists wave to the departing seaplane, but soon after it lifts off, it explodes. They now find themselves being isolated on the island. Weigand reacts quickly by instructing Hank to get on the radio.



Just as a storm hits the island, Hank tries to send out a message but the radio can only receive local commercial radio stations. It seems that electrical interference is blocking any signals being sent out.

Their isolation is compounded by the fact that rather than the navy eventually sending out a search party once the seaplane doesn't return, it will simply assume that the landing party had decided to stay on the island to wait out the storm.

There is nothing now to be done except for the scientists to begin their investigations, including the reading of MacLean's journal;

Dr. Karl Weigand: [reading McLane's journal aloud] "Friday, March 12: This afternoon Professor Carter found a large piece of flesh having the same composition as that of the common earthworm, but measured twenty-four inches by eight. With this section as a measure, the worm-like creature would be more than five feet in length. Most intriguing is the tissue's consistency: it proved impossible to cut - knives passing through the flesh leaving no mark. Fire was applied to the tissue and the corollary result..." The journal ends there. (Mid-experiment!)


The sense of unease and tension is suddenly heightened by ominous rumblings.

The journal’s contents seem to rule out the Navy’s explanation of the previous scientists’ fate. It is clear that they were not carried off by a typhoon. The strange finding is that of a mass of tissue similar to earthworm flesh, but of such size that only the largest of deep-sea tube worms could possibly account for it. The tissue was also impossible to cut because any incision made in it immediately resealed itself!

Tension is built again a bit later when Karl and Dale hear a strange noise coming from outside. After a few anxious moments staring out into the shadowy darkness, they notice a vine scraping against the cabin wall due to the wind. The sense of relief is dampened as the camera pans back to the offending vine, perhaps suggesting that something else may be lurking among the shadows.




The next morning, Dr. Martha Hunter dons scuba gear and ventures out into the ocean waters alone to begin her exploration of the sea. We next have a scene featuring Martha swimming around with schools of fish and manta rays. Suddenly, there is a brief partial shot of the crab monster, but the tension soon dissipates as Dale joins her on the bottom. After some exploring they return to the beach where Martha gives Dale an earful: "You nearly frightened me to death….. I was using a large black rock as a landmark, but when I swam back it was gone." Dale then informs her that something was moving by her when he swam up, but he didn't get a good look at it.



Weigand and Carson call to the couple on the beach, telling them that they really need to come and see something important. The couple follows Jules, Jim, Carl and the sailors to an enormous pit that has mysteriously appeared where there was no pit before. It's approximately 50 feet deep and has occurred on the very spot that Martha walked over on her way to the beach. Carson wants to explore, but Weigand forbids it stating that any further disturbance might cause a cave-in that could trap anyone unfortunate enough to venture down. Carson observes that the rocks are unusual, that they have been glazed over as if they had been fired in a kiln.





Later at night, Martha is awakened by a ghostly voice that calls out her name and pleads for her help. It appears to be the voice of the missing Doctor MacLean. Martha gets up, changes into her clothes and searches through the woods to locate the source of the mysterious voice of MacLean. But why go alone?


Dr. James Carson: So you heard it, too. 

Martha Hunter: Yes, it was Oliver McLane's voice. 

Dr. James Carson: He called me as plain as day. 
Martha Hunter: Strange... because I only heard him call my name.

Equally surprising is the fact that Martha comes across James who also heard MacLean's voice calling to him, leading him to also venture out alone without informing anyone else about what was happening!

Apart from Martha’s help, James doesn’t bother to get anyone else’s assistance when he impulsively decides to try and solve this mystery by climbing down to the bottom of the pit. He dismisses any possibility of a cave-in. For scientists, these people have very low IQs!







Harsh Judgments 
Actions and decisions 
Harshly judged 
By amnesiac jurors 
Forgetful of lives lived 
Irrationally, 
Illogically, 
Inadvisably.

*****

Suddenly another earthquake strikes causing Martha to fall and strike her head on a pick axe while Carson’s scream is heard coming up from the pit. The rest of the team arrives and Martha recovers to tell them the whereabouts of James, "He's in the pit; I saw the rope go slack." They call to James who informs them that his leg is broken.

Despite everyone's eagerness to rescue Jim, Karl is against making such an attempt using the rope claiming that it may not be long enough to reach the bottom. Instead, he suggests making a rescue attempt by going through the caves down by the seashore. He is confident that the caves must connect to the pit as he believes that it has been artificially created. The two sailors arrive on the scene to report that whole sections of the island are crashing into the ocean. The rescue party then proceeds into the cave system.





Tsk! Tsk! 
We know we feel superior 
When we long to state the obvious 
And “tsk tsk” a by-gone era 
It’s views of “she” erroneous,
But will fingers of the future 
Wag at us too, smug and vigorous?

*****

Yes, Martha is accompanied back to the house while most of the men traipse off to do secret “men’s’ business.” Yes, it was the 1950s: a different era with different attitudes! So what? Get over it!

Anyway, before entering the caves, Hank catches sight of a crab and throws a rock at it. Karl tries to stop him stating that he hates to see any living thing killed, even if it’s repulsive. Jules comments that crabs are harmless, but one of the sailors believes that crabs are in fact ruthless killers that will tear a man apart if given the opportunity. I hereby swear off eating crab ever again!

House 

Dale and Martha go over MacLean's journal and learn about cave formations only happening at night. Suddenly they hear a booming sound and the strange scraping noise heard earlier on. This is soon followed by the sound of wood splintering coming from an adjoining room in the house. Dale then enters with gun at the ready to investigate when suddenly a giant crab claw snaps out at him Bruce Lee-like from off-screen causing him to let go of the gun. Deciding that discretion is the better part of valor, Dale beats a hasty retreat back to the living room.

Cave 

The men venture into the caves and soon spot a strange light ahead. The rescue party calls out to Dr. Carson who replies and tells them to come quickly.

House 

A fuse fails and Dale and Martha are left in the dark but the noises finally end.

Cave 

At the spot where Carson was lost, the rope is found to be still hanging from the pit’s opening along with blood on the cave floor. So, the rope was in fact long enough to reach down to the bottom of the pit! Not being able to locate any other trace of Carson, it is decided that they will return in the morning. Hank doesn't like the idea of leaving a man with a broken leg down in the caves all night, but Karl insists they leave the caverns by climbing up the rope instead of retracing their steps. Karl doesn’t explain why. One of the sailors objects and points out that their tent is on the beach and closer to the cave but nevertheless submits to Weigand’s orders.

House

Dale re-enters the room to find its contents have been smashed up. Even the radio seems to have been deliberately wrecked, putting paid to any attempt to call for help.


Martha Hunter: I suppose you can tell us what tore up this room last night. 

Dr. Karl Weigand: No, I cannot tell you that... but I can tell you this. Everything that has happened from the death of the first sailor to the destruction of our radio must be somehow related. They are too far from the normal scheme of things to be separate accidents. (See what a good education and degree can do for you!)


House 

The next morning the scientists inspect the room more thoroughly. There is a hole in the wall to the outside through which Martha is looking out of. It was made by whatever attacked last night.

Deveroux asks Hank if he can fix the radio; Hank isn't sure and feels that it will have to be practically rebuilt. Dale wonders what prevented the creature from smashing through the door and coming after him and Martha. Karl conjectures that a lot of energy such as what the lights of the cabin could produce might deter such a creature. This thought leads him to speculate that the attacking creature is afraid of electricity. Dale then wonders if electricity could prove be a defense against the creature. If only someone had told the giant crustacean which disappeared as soon as the electricity was cut off!

As Martha is looking outside, she notices that an entire mountain has disappeared, “Yesterday, when we came to this island, there was a mountain out there. Today there's no mountain.”

The scientists decide to leave the house for yet another rescue attempt for Dr. Carson. At the cave, just as Karl concludes that Jim is beyond any help, another earthquake strikes causing Deveroux to fall and have his hand severed by a large boulder. As the others set about wrapping up the wound, the two sailors arrive on the scene. It turns out that they had been lured into the caverns by Jim's voice.

Jules is carried back to the house and is now in bed. Martha has given him a shot to help him sleep. He mumbles in French before falling off to sleep.



Seaman Ron Fellows: Okay, whadda ya got? 

Seaman Jack Sommers: Three queens! 

Seaman Ron Fellows: Well, big deal. So you finally won a hand. I'm still 100 sticks of dynamite and one wild explosion ahead of you.







An Unlucky Hand 

On a beach two sailor boys play cards 
With stakes set so high, 
Gambling with their lives, 
Playing with dynamite 
While something crab-like comes closer, 
Its claw dragging a stuttering stick 
Along a picket fence. 
With fear-wracked features 
In the light of a lamp 
They come face-to-face 
With Fate and ill-fortune, 
Both boys dealt an unlucky hand.

*****



Back in Jules' room, we find that he is awakened by the voices of the two sailors telling him that they've found Carson and that he must quietly come to the pit. Jules agrees to go alone.






Just as Jules approaches the pit and calls out to the voice that has led him there, he is attacked by a giant crab claw which latches on to his neck. Martha is awakened by his screams and soon everyone rushes out into the living room. They hear the chattering voice of Deveroux emanating from his room, despite it being empty. Karl picks up a metal dish on the bed stand that Jules' voice seems to be coming from. When asked where he is, Jules' voice replies that he is where they shall all be soon enough and that they will hear again from him tomorrow night.

The next day the scientists discover that the sailors are missing, along with most of the dynamite. The grenades, however, are still there.

Dr. Karl Weigand: No. No, I do not believe in ghosts. We are dealing with a man who is dead, but whose voice and memory live. How this can be I do not know, but its implications are far more terrible than any ghost could ever be.


The next night we find with Karl, Martha, Dale, and Hank sitting around a table waiting. Jules' voice suddenly projects out of a gun on the table. It seems that the mysterious voices can only be broadcast through metal. Why? Who knows?

Jules' voice invites them to come to the caves again, where all will be explained. When they ask about Carson, Carson replies in his voice. claiming that they will be reunited with him, too. This all seems like an obvious trap, nevertheless the men head off to the caves, feeling that they have no choice if they want to find out what's going on.





The three men enter the caverns once again where they soon hear the strange ticking or tapping sound. Suddenly they are attacked by a giant land crab of which we have our first full shot. Now it is on for young and old! Guns are fired and grenades are hurled but nothing seems to have any effect on the giant crustacean. As luck would have it, a grenade thrown by Dale blows some rocks loose from the roof of the cavern, which crashes down on to the Crab Monster. It turns out that a piece of jagged rock pierced the creature’s head and struck its brain. It is feared that if this rock were removed, the crab monster might return to life. Why? Who knows?

Karl uses a camera to take some happy snaps of the creature and then uses a pick-ax to amputate one of its claws.





Suddenly a second crab monster looms out of the darkness and Karl gets it to pose for a photo before all three men make themselves scarce. A charge of dynamite is then set off which destroys the cave while the voice of Deveroux tells them they have destroyed McLane and his party.


Dr. Karl Weigand: Any matter, therefore, that the crab eats will be assimilated in its body as solid energy, becoming part of the crab. 

Martha Hunter: Like the bodies of the dead men?

Dr. Karl Weigand: Yes - and their brain tissue, which, after all, is nothing more than a storage house for electrical impulses. 
Dale Drewer: That means that the crab can eat his victim's brain, absorbing his mind intact and working. 
Dr. Karl Weigand: It's as good a theory as any other to explain what's happened.

As Hank works to get the radio operational, Weigand analyzes some of the crab monster's tissue in a microscope and performs tests on the claw. He concludes that radiation poisoning caused the crab monster's atomic structure to be completely disrupted. Karl explains that since electricity is the flow of free electrons, the crab is composed of free atoms, making it like a liquid that's held within the container of its body and other such scientific-sounding nonsense. The crab monster is able to assimilate other creatures into its body, including their brains and can absorb the minds and memories of people it devours. The crab monster that was destroyed had absorbed MacLean and the two sailors.

Martha notices that one of the crabs is about to reproduce thereby proving that it is a female. Hank attaches the claw to a battery causing it to glow, and then be reduced to ashes. This eventually leads to the idea for the construction of an electrical device with which to destroy the crab.

Karl has also worked out that the crab monsters are able to throw out arcs of heat which they have made use of to create the pit and the caverns.




Once They Were Men 
“Once they were men; 
Now they are land crabs.” 
From monsters of our making 
Have men been made monsters, 
Sucked dry of heart and soul 
Scuttling along under another’s will, 
Encased in hard shells of ill-will,
Emptied of all free will,
Waving claws of clamping hate, 
Absorbing minds 
In a mindless fate.

*****

Dr. Karl Weigand: No, thank you, Martha. I have no ambition toward becoming a mad scientist, but I do think we ought to try and capture the thing. Would you not like to examine a live specimen? 

Martha Hunter: Certainly I would, but I had a chance to see how the "specimen" examined the lab wall last night.

It is felt by most of the group that the crab monster must be destroyed. Karl, however, who was brought to the atoll to study the effects of radioactivity, feels that the crab monster would afford him an opportunity to do just that. Karl, therefore, prefers to capture the creature alive. This is a very risky option considering, as Martha points out, what the creature did to the wall of the house.





Decision 
What’s your decision? 
Faced with death and destruction, 
With each sinking option, 
Taken by tides of desperation, 
Carried on waves of emotion, 
Hungry for retribution, 
Lack of imagination 
In search of a final solution 
That will bring us salvation: 
What’s your decision? 
Step back from……. Confusion, 
Limitation, 
Restriction, 
Enter into the equation, 
Ask a bold question, 
Call for information, 
Join in cooperation, 
Seek a resolution 
Of a stupid situation 
What’s your decision?

Karl’s plan is to make a trap that uses a positive charge powerful enough to disable the crab monster but without killing it. Despite still trying to get the radio working, Hank miraculously constructs such a device, which is then tested in the forest. It is soon decided to prepare the trap down in the caverns during the day when crab monsters supposedly aren't active. It’s a bit difficult to see how Karl arrived at his conclusions and how he seems to have miraculously managed to cover all the possible variables in his plan!

Hank and Martha don scuba gear and descend into the pit with the trap leaving Dale and Karl on the hill. Hank and Martha don’t seem to have their minds on the task at hand as they chat about loneliness and finding that special someone. Perhaps the idea of heading down a dark pit while carrying dangerous baggage might be someone’s idea of a metaphor for some types of relationships? I’m just saying!

The Crab Monster is soon encountered having 40 winks and incredibly Dale sets about obtaining yet another specimen for Karl to study. All he really had to was set the device up and use it. Why tempt fate? Perhaps there are things more important than just immediately wiping stuff out? Perhaps there is an opportunity to learn things for the future? Or who knows, it could even be a lame device to keep the tension going….I’m just saying!

Hank sets off on his mission to do some good, but in an ironic twist, the crab monster's eye suddenly opens. By pretending to sleep, the crab monster has set a trap of her own! Don’t underestimate your foe!

Hank and Martha high-tale out of the cavern with Mrs. Crab Monster in hot pursuit. Unable to climb out of the pit in time, they both head for the water. They make it on to shore, followed soon after by Mrs. Crab Monster.

Dale grabs a rifle and manages to lob several shots at the crab monster but it's useless as the bullets merely pass right through the beast's body. The crab monster magnanimously congratulates the humans success in taking one of her claws, but points out to them that it will grow back in a day, whereas the humans won't be able to grow back the lives that they are soon going to lose. Dale must have kept the claw tucked away like Gollum’s “precious” seeing that there wasn’t any footage of him hacking the claw off the crab monster!






Back at the house there’s a discussion about how the island is steadily shrinking as large chunks of it have fallen into the sea. Later on Hank asks Martha how she met Dale. She tells him that they studied at the same school for which they are now both researchers. She sure sits pretty close to Hank and seems to be giving some mighty mixed messages. What might be going through the minds of the two men right now? Both might be considering a plan that uses each as bait for the crab monster!

While exploring what little of the island remains, Dale and Karl make their way to the cave entrance and spot two streams of oil, leading Karl to conjecture that the explosions and seismic activity had tapped into some subterranean oil source. Karl suddenly goes into action-man mode and insists on investigating his hypothesis. He waves away any objections by stating that the crab monster is like a rattlesnake that can be heard long before she can approach close enough to pose a danger. He also claims that she is destroying the island in order to trap the scientists who will have no place to run. Karl believes he and Dale will be able to easily avoid falling prey to the creature if they keep their wits about them. Karl and Dale then surprisingly decide to split up with each following one of the oil streams.

After a short while, Dale hears the sinister sound of the creature and after spotting her, rushes off out of the cave where he runs into Hank and Martha. Dale then insists on re-entering the cave to warn Karl that the creature is making its way towards him. Martha is told to stay outside, but after briefly hesitating, she runs after the two men. Go girl, tell ‘em to get stuffed! What so you say now “tsk-tskers”?

Meanwhile, Karl comes across the electronic trap that Hank and Martha left behind earlier on. Seeing this an opportunity to capture the creature, Karl tries to get it working. Suddenly, he is interrupted by the sound of the approaching crab monster.




In his attempt to escape, Karl is zapped by the trap, which he now knows works only too well. The electrical charge paralyzes Karl and he is left to scream in terror and no doubt contemplate the little twists of irony that life and 50s sci-fi films seem all too frequently to offer. What he set out to study now advances towards him and sets about Borg-like to consume him.

As Dale, Martha and Hank flee, Dale pauses long enough to set fire to one of the oil streams referred to earlier. This trap, however, fails to have any effect on the crab monster.


The Crab: [with Karl's voice] And as with McLane, there will be no evidence of how you vanished, or of my existence. We will rest in the caves and plan our assault upon the world of men!


When the surviving trio makes it back to the house, Hank attempts to send a message via the radio but he is unsure if it is working. Suddenly, the crab monster communicates to them using the voices of Karl and Jules. They are informed that their efforts are all in vain as the atoll will soon be completely destroyed, along with any clue as to what happened to both expeditions. Furthermore, Hank, Martha and Dale will be absorbed into the crab monster, and their combined assimilated minds will assist with the impending invasion of all of mankind. Resistance is futile……

As the island rumbles, rips apart and tumbles bit by bit into the ocean depths, our three survivors make it out of the house before it collapses and traps them.




The three humans make their way up the remaining island peak that's still left above water. Once at the top, they can see a solitary radio transmission tower through which the crab monster transmits its taunting messages to them.

Dale and Hank decide it’s better to die fighting on their feet rather than submit to the crab monster. They decide to fight back by using their remaining grenades and a hatchet which is retrieved from a toolbox by the tower.






The grenades have no effect on the crab monster but in the ensuing struggle Hank somehow manages crawl over to the transmission tower and throw a switch that turns on the electricity. Hank then begins shaking the tower in an attempt to topple it over.




"He gave his life..."


As the crab monster moves away from Dale and Martha and heads toward Hank. Hank manages to send the tower crashing on to the crab monster, which finally destroys it but which also results in the death of Hank.

Although safe from the crab monster, Dale and Martha appear now to be trapped and in danger of perishing. 



Or are they……..???????













©Chris Christopoulos 2015