I Have a Theory

This last week I watched the 1957 movie, Attack of the Crab Monsters, starring Richard Garland, Pamela Duncan and Russell Johnson, as researchers studying a strange shrinking island.

This film is a B-movie in just about every sense of the word. Sets, acting, “special” effects, and script all epitomize the standard of a classic (classically bad) sci-fi horror flick.

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But it was Monday night, and there was really nothing better on TV, so we pulled up the Netflix menu and decided to give the monsters a spin. We knew it had to be good, because the only actor we recognized was Russell Johnson, who later became the “Professor” on Gilligan’s Island. (I suppose I’ve always loved geeks.)

My oldest son, my husband, and I all watched intently. We gasped in “horror” when the first sailor had his head pinched off by the giant sea creatures. Radiation is never good for crustaceans that carry a grudge. We chuckled throughout the film as each of the main characters asked Dr. Karl Weigand, played by Leslie Bradley, what could be causing the noises, earthquakes, and destruction. Each time he would respond with, “I don’t know, but I have a theory.”

He would then proceed to explain exactly what was happening. He was an amazing guesser.

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We laughed, we cried, it was better than Cats. Well… it was. And all because it was completely terrible.

Why do I love these silly cinemas? I have a theory. I believe it’s because they are a somewhat skewed window back to a simpler time, technologically. In a world where every little aspect of life is controlled by gadgets and computers, a film about irradiated crabs causing whole islands to sink into the ocean is somehow fun.

Relationships were easier. The one woman in the movie had a choice between the two good-looking men. The monsters were overpowering, but easily defeated. Just a little zap of electricity turned them to ashes. The technology was simple. Just fix a radio. I’ve seen the Professor do it thousands of times with nothing more that a fish and a couple coconuts.

It was fun. Good writing? No. Great story-telling? Maybe not. A nice evening with my family? Absolutely.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.

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