Roger Corman's Attack of the Crab Monsters is a 1950s drive-in classic that turned a $70K budget into a $1M profit. Despite being a mega-monster film about radioactive land crabs eating human beings, the Crab Monsters has little to no special effects. Corman relied exclusively on plot devices to keep the audience interested. This makes Crab Monsters an interesting film to study as it shows the beauty and power of great screenwriting. The screenwriter in question is Charles B. Griffith, a man who cleverly spun a tale about giant crab monsters with only a few scenes of exposition and a lot of tension in between. Consider Crab Monsters to be a Hitchcock-inspired thriller that's weird, fun and perfect for kids. There isn't a boring frame in it and a mysterious virtuoso violin that plays in the background sets a foreboding mood while the team of researchers investigate the mystery of the previous expedition team.
Identifying Theme in Callaham's Godzilla (2014)
Or, How David Callaham Wants Us to Get Along and Stop Eating Each Other
Finding plot devices isn't that hard. Just look for elements that repeat themselves throughout the film. Callaham's Godzilla contains patterns from the very first scene, at Joe Brody's house, where his son, Ford, teams up with mom to put on a surprise birthday party for dad. The camera tracks the boy wearing a green t-shirt with a string of "Happy Birthday" letters trailing from behind, like a Godzilla tail. This shot is no mistake. It's Callahan's attempt to tell a story about how about every monster in the world - including humans - have families too. Godzilla, a tale of peace and mayhem in a battle filled with creatures looking for the same kind of love they got from the day they were born.
The oldest story on Earth has a lot in common with the greatest story every told. The oldest story, being, of course, The Epic of Gilgamesh and the greatest, the Bible, starting with the Book of Genesis. Both have strong male leads whose lives are in a state of proverbial bliss only to be disturbed by the love of a woman. In Gilgamesh, Enkidu is a wild man who gets drawn into Sumerian life through the love of a prostitute and in the Book of Genesis, Adam is seduced by Eve to break his bond with God and live by the sweat of the brow. When two stories use the same plot we some times call it "archetype" - a word used for a mythic element that speaks to a universal human experience.