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"Grabbers" - Drunken Irish vs. sea monsters

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Oh, the luck of the Irish. In John Wright’s film “Grabbers” they have the misfortune of having deadly alien creatures fall into their neck of the woods, but wouldn’t you know it the monsters’ one weakness is alcohol-infused blood. Now here is an absolutely funny monster movie made by people who love monsters and who like to laugh at the idea of Irish drinking. What a fun time you will have watching it.

Writer Kevin Lehane is a fan of the genre as he opens the movie with a classic B-movie moment: a bright object falling from space and crashing on Earth. The object in question lands near the small town of Erin Island off the coast of Ireland, where police officer (or Garda as they are called in Ireland) Lisa Noland (Ruth Bradley) is arriving by ferry. Picking her up is officer Ciarán O’Shea (Richard Coyle) who is still hung-over from the night before and carries a small flask at all times in case he feels the need to repeat the experience. Many of the citizens are leaving the island for a two-week festival, and the police chief summoned Noland in case O’Shea spends too much time drinking instead of doing his job.

O’Shea tells the big-city cop nothing ever happens in Erin Island anyway, but Noland says the craziest things happen in the small places. Funny she should say that, because mutilated whales start washing up on the beach, people start disappearing with only their heads left behind, and Paddy the town drunk (Lalor Roddy) claims he has caught a sea monster in his bathtub. An autopsy by the local marine biologist Dr. Smith (Russel Tovey) reveals the sea monster in question is a small bundle of tentacles with a long retractable tongue that sucks blood like a leach. The lack of testicles also shows this is a female and there is a much bigger male on the loose out there. Uh-oh.

The creatures live in the water and there is a huge storm heading towards the town that will soak the entire area. By all accounts the townspeople are in grave danger, but Smith discovers the creatures have one key weakness. If they consume human blood laced with alcohol, they die from blood poisoning, so happy hour is now mandatory. Together with the town officials and the local bar keeper, O’Shea and Noland plan to keep everyone safe by staying indoors and serving drinks all night. Apparently nothing fills up an Irish pub faster than the words “Free Drinks!”

You could easily make a drinking game with this movie, but there is something quite amusing about seeing a bunch of drunken people while sober. The uptight Noland says she has never been drunk in her life, but after six pints and a taste of Paddy’s special brew she is off her rocker and having the time of her life. Also, if you have never seen two drunks trying to operate a makeshift flamethrower made from a plastic water pistol while there is a giant creature knocking at the door, rest assured it is as funny as it sounds.

Between the Irish accents and the drunken characters, the dialogue can be a bit difficult to understand at times, but you easily understand where this is going. The filmmakers have included plenty of little homage to classic monster movies such as “Tremors,” “The Thing,” and “Aliens,” all while serving a generous pint of humor throughout. The monsters themselves remain off-screen for a good part of the movie, as it should be. When they are revealed, the computer effects are quite effective, and practical effects are used for an autopsy scene that eventually turns quite bloody and funny as well.

As it happens often in the genre, the door is left wide open for a sequel and I would welcome it with open arms. The possibilities are endless. Imagine the Grabbers on a booze cruise. Or better yet, what if they somehow made it to an Oktoberfest?

(“Grabbers” is available on DVD and Blu-Ray and is streaming in Netflix.)


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