There’s nothing better than a good monster movie. The problem is, most monster movies these days suck. Some intentionally (Sharktopus, I’m looking at you). The Syfy Channel seems to specialize in these CGI stinkers that spotlight bad acting, sloppy uniforms and the latest in re-painted paintball sidearms.
Grabbers is a welcome change from all that.
In 1990, one of the best monster movies of all time was released: Tremors. It is the gold-standard by which I judge all other monster movies. Tremors had memorable characters, violence that didn’t require some viewers to have abarf bag at the ready and a bit of humor to break things up and keep it from getting too serious. Tremors basically took everything that was cool about The Creature from the Black Lagoon and injected a healthy dose of Jack “Big Trouble in Little China” Burton’s DNA into the script.
Tremors has been successfully replicated several times- Lake Placid (1999) for example. But it’s been a few years since the perfect mix of humor, action, drama and good-looking puppet monsters has appeared. Grabbers has ended that drought- and worked in some decent CGI to boot.
Grabbers is another fine SFF import from our cousins across the Atlantic. A piece of cinema that mixes in all the goofy, often incomprehensible slang and thick accents of the British Isles, while remaining understandable enough to enjoy.
The set up is simple enough: a remote Irish island falls prey to otherworldly monsters that resemble masses of writhing tentacles around a mouth. They magically heal when exposed to water, and can travel on the water and on land.
Unfortunately for the monsters, they picked an Irish town to invade. I say unfortunate because alcohol is toxic to the beasts, and Grabbers takes full advantage of the drunken Irishman stereotype.
Our heroes for this wonderful film are the odd-looking, short, bearded guy from the Vikings TV show this past winter (David Pearse), the town’s drunkard policeman (Richard Cole), a new, hot policewoman (Ruth Bradley) and the obligatory, pencil-necked science geek (Russel Tovey- more memorable as George the werewolf from BBC’s Being Human fame).
The story follows typical monster movie formula: the monsters arrive, they kill a few stragglers, they get discovered by the heroes, one is captured, they find out there’s a bigger one, and the town prepares for a showdown in Act 3. The novel part isn’t centered on the typical emergency fashioning of weapons, but rather the townsfolk locking themselves up in the local pub and get absolutely snookered (I think that’s the right term).
Don’t get me wrong- this isn’t a knee-slapping, hilarious romp like Shaun of the Dead, or Jack Brooks- Monster Slayer. It is just like Tremors and Lake Placid– bits of humor with lots of B Movie Drama and some great monster action.
And don’t expect this to get remade in America (at least I hope not). It just wouldn’t work. For one, these alien invaders (well, the little ones, at least) can be killed with sufficient stomping and smacking with boat oars. In ‘Merica, they’d be subjected to the firearms we have hiding behind every blade of grass. They wouldn’t last fifteen minutes.
In the Emerald Isles however, where the most dangerous projectile weapon is a flare gun, the blue-skinned, multi-tentacled monsters prove themselves to be a deadly foe for our hapless, Irish drunkards.
My favorite part of this movie is the fact it’s kid-friendly. Not that being an alcoholic is entirely appropriate for children, but in that there’s no exposed boobies, no simulated sex acts, no gruesome blood fountains and no obvious sexual innuendo (well, at least I think there isn’t- hard to tell with those thick accents).
And (as appropriate tribute to Joe Bob Briggs) here’s my B Movie Action Summary:
Hot Chicks: 1
Car Chases: 1
Times you Can drink when the characters do: Infinity- and beyond
Improvised Weapons: 9
Flare Gun, Supersoaker, Stick, Oar, Nailgun, Board with nail in it, Pellet Gun, Fire, Backhoe/Bucket Loader
I highly recommend Grabbers– Burt Gummer would undoubtably approve (once he got over the horror of citizens not having firearms to protect themselves).
(Grabbers is available for rental on Xbox’s Video Marketplace and I assume, everywhere else you can download/rent movies. If not, it totally should be.)