Freak Nights: The Sideshow in Horror Cinema

Review #9: Crustacean (2009)

Director: L. J. Dopp

By Amy M. Vaughn

27 October 2020

If you have a soft spot for no-budget, make-do horror, there are things about Crustacean you’d appreciate. Professor Nightwind’s Freak Show is made up of Wolf Boy, who wears a plastic snout; a bearded woman, who is neither bearded nor a woman; twin “pinheads” who are conjoined because their shirts are tied together; the skeleton of the world’s tallest midget; a pirate; and the middle aged Lobster Baby, who we are led to believe is the only true anomaly of the bunch. And of course it is Lobster Baby who takes a fancy to a local, breaks out of his cage somehow, and goes on a killing spree until he gets hit on the head and remembers his life before the sideshow. Then he and the local girl live happily ever after.

Ectrodactyly, the so-called lobster malformation.

There’s a lot more to it, and most of it has to do with rednecks, twins, and inbreeding. What makes any of this worthwhile, and I use that term loosely, are the occasional bits of self-referential movie-making humor that really are funny. There’s ridiculousness plastered all over this movie; it’s literally flashed on the screen as well as being snuck in from the side.

Overall, it’s far more offensive to rednecks than to freaks. L. J. Dopp knew his sideshow history, even if he didn’t have the funds to really display it.

At times, this movie is smart. At times, it’s so dumb you have to laugh. But after the first half hour or so, the jokes wane, the plot drags, and even the contrived appearances of boobs disappear. What this movie needs is a fan edit to pare it down to just the good stuff. Until that happens, which is likely never, I cannot in good conscience recommend Crustacean. To do otherwise would just be shellfish.

2 out of 5 Sets of Implausible Twins

Available at well-stocked video stores.

Amy M. Vaughn is the author of Skull Nuggets and the editor of Dog Doors to Outer Space. She is also a contributing editor at Babou 691. Her newest novella, Freak Night at the Slee-Z Motel, from Thicke & Vaney Books, can be ordered from Amazon.

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