In 1957, this pair of Roger Corman cheapies played on a double bill and was advertised as a “Terrorama! Double Horror Sensation!” As with most sci-fi horror pictures of its era, the ad campaign smacks of wishful thinking. Yet there’s no denying that Not of This Earth (a premise Corman liked so much that he produced two remakes) and Attack of the Crab Monsters are perfect—and perfectly enjoyable—examples of the type of movie that was being churned out at the time. Surprisingly, they’re also frequently stylish and have remarkably well-written screenplays. Bear in mind, however, that we’re talking well-written within the context of movies about a kind of vampire from outer space and giant mutant telepathic crabs bent on world domination. (In the case of the latter, I’ve never been quite clear what they planned on doing with the world once they got hold of it.) Of the two, Not of This Earth is—relatively speaking—the more sober-minded work, and the creepier film, thanks in large measure to Paul Birch’s performance as the gent who is “not of this Earth” and has been sent here to see if humans can be pastured like cattle for their blood supply. This isn’t to sell its “big companion feature” short. Far from it. Attack of the Crab Monsters is, in fact, more fun. Plus—unlike many films of the ‘50s (including some of Corman’s)—it actually delivers what its title promises: crab monsters. Are they most believable monsters imaginable? Probably not, but at least they’re there.
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