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Island Claws (1980) - Blu-ray Review

Movie Review

3 beersWhen a woman races through a jungle for no apparent reason and then knocks herself out via a low hanging branch, you have to know that you are in for a damn good time of general awfulness at the movies.  This is confirmed later when giant crabs invade and start roaring at the humans trying to defend their local bar.

Crab cakes and unintentional camp for dinner?  Yum!

More protein and faster! And it’s all courtesy of the warm water being discharged from nuclear power plants. Hmmm. Already I sense a reason for these crusty crustacean’s and their charged-up growth rate. It takes the drunken bozos in this creature feature 90-minutes to put the pieces together. Fascinating.

Island Claws, courtesy of Scorpion Releasing and a whole hell of a lot of radioactive crabs, is s B-movie treasure. It simply doesn’t back down from the zaniness of its own rules in this hilarious awful story concerning a rinky-dink town and its dirt roads. Creature features are rarely this loaded with hilarious lines like, “we are doing some research on crabs” and "stay away from the crabs!"

I can’t lie. The movie is terrible and everything but at least it’s unapologetic in its lo-fi thrills and (mostly) spills. I mean, other than arrive on land and drag a girl through the jungle, I’m not even sure the damn crabs do anything harmful until the very final battle as the town goes toe-to-toe with one big bad mutant mofo. It’s all mainly the human response that causes the killing.

The first epic crab invasion results when one man’s makeshift bus-turned-home gets all sorts of blown up – with him inside – but that because the dumbass was trying to kill the invading crabs with a goddamn banjo. Idiot. And, when the islanders KNOW there is a problem with crabs, they lay the blame down at the tired feet od some refugees. Go figure.

Starring Robert Lansing (4D Man and The Nest), Steve Hanks, Barry Nelson (The Shining) and Nita Talbot, the film spends way too much time with the human dynamics as the crabs slowly march to land. I’m not sure we care too much about these folks hooking up and revealing truths to their kids when they aren’t firing guns at Haitians.  As written, these characters just aren’t all that interesting. 

The special effects from Glen Robinson, whose team mixes footage of real crabs with practically-made eight foot long ones hungering for more protein to keep them growing and growing and growing, is highlighted by the final battle in which humans are snatched off the ground and pinched to death by massive claws.

What I absolutely love about this movie, on top of the MANY shots of radioactive crabs invading the beach town where “Oh Susanna” is played via banjo and harmonica at a local dive called “The Half Shell”, is just how blatantly goofy it is. Even the shaky subplot full of Haitian refugees proves to be a head scratcher when the town, already aware of the influx of crabs, blames them and their voodoo for the rising death toll.

The small town at the center of the film, introduced about 12 minutes into the flick (after the film’s initial nuclear set-up), is filled with so many crazy characters (and names!) that it feels like a separate movie in itself and then the crabs show up and you’re like, oh yeah, this is a movie about nucleoid crabs out for human blood.

Directed by Hernan Cardenas and written by Ricou Browning (you know, the dude in the Creature of the Black Lagoon suit for the underwater scenes) & Jack Cowden, Island Claws doesn’t exactly present a hazard to anyone but it, as far as B-movies go, it’s pretty awful. Even Browning, who is featured in an interview that plays before the movie, admits he only wrote it. He’s never seen the movie.

Nuclear power plants and giant crabs. Oh my! What could possibly go wrong? See for yourself and scoop up Island Claws, a limited Blu-ray release from Scorpion Releasing, as soon as humanly possible. Pinch! Pinch!


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Film Details

Island Claws (1980) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: PG.
Runtime: 82 mins
Director: Hernan Cardenas
Writer: Jack Cowden; Ricou Browning
Cast: Robert Lansing, Steve Hanks, Nita Talbot
Genre: Horror
Tagline: Island Claws.
Memorable Movie Quote:
Theatrical Distributor:
Official Site:
Release Date:
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: October 7, 2014
Synopsis: A biological experiment in Florida goes awry. The result: 8-foot long land crabs which roar loudly and kill everything in sight.


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Island Claws (1980) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Scorpion Releasing
Available on Blu-ray - October 7, 2014
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: None
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

Cheap! Cheap! Cheap! This no frills production looks as good as it is going to get on 1080p. Scorpion Releasing presents the film on blu-ray with a new HD transfer from the original camera negative. It’s 1.78:1 aspect ratio is loaded with nice details. From the sweat on the skin of the locals to the darkness in the surrounding jungle, the transfer looks pretty good. Edges are clear and varied. Colors are strong. This release preserves the cinematic look of the film with a new crispness that used to be lost to time. A solid 2.0 DTS-HD MA sound mix carries the audio thrills.




Special Features:

Outside of Browning talking about a film he hasn’t even seen, there’s nothing.

Ricou Browning Introduction (12 min)


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Island Claws (1980) - Blu-ray Review