Extraterrestrial crabs snort cocaine, wreak havoc across Salem in upcoming local film

After flying through outer space, the extraterrestrial crustaceans exit their spacecraft and find themselves in the backyard of two frat boys who treat them to a heaping pile of cocaine. Within moments, cherry-red blood sprays and the crabs embark on their murderous journey.

It’s the absurdist opening scene in the trailer for “Cocaine Snorting Crabs From Outer Space,” local filmmaker Chuck Magee’s third feature-length project.

The film will premiere at Salem’s Historic Grand theatre on Friday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Magee described the movie as “Gremlins” meets “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.” He stars in the leading role, a detective who teams up with a local pet store employee to investigate the killings.

It’s Magee’s first release in over a decade. In the meantime, the bartender worked and raised his daughter Morrigan, now 19 years old.

“Then Covid hit, and I got bored. And I was in the shower one day and this stupid idea hit me and I started laughing and I kept just writing things down,” he said.

From a shower-thought to a local premiere, the film took almost two years to make. It was quicker than his first two movies, which took three.

“They’re all super, really low budget. There’s not a lot of production value behind these. The humor’s what keeps it going,” he said.

Magee first got into filmmaking by taking an intro to movie making class at his high school in Sunnyvale, California. He was further inspired by early Steven Spielberg movies. 

“That dude canned magic. He knew how to do it. Say what you will about what he’s doing now, but back in the 80s? That guy was on fire. And I was the perfect age to just soak it all up,” he said.

Magee is partial to practical effects, as shown through the campy gore and army of 45 plastic crabs featured in his upcoming movie.

The film relied on local talent, including posters and promotional art designed by Magee’s daughter who also has a background role. It’s shot on location at sites around Salem, including f/Stop Fitzgerald’s Public House, Blast Off Vintage, 105.5 The Moon and Noble Wave.

Most of the cast are his friends, or friends of friends. 

“I have so many people ask me, ‘I want to be in it but I can’t act.’ It’s like, dude, all I work with is non-actors,” he said. “There are zero Oscars at stake here. I’m going to cover you in blood. I’m going to throw a plastic crab at you and you’re going to scream, and it’ll be great.”

The film has generated some buzz on local social media pages, and there are seats still available for the premiere. Tickets are $10 each, and can be purchased online at or in-person at the event.

Some commenters plan to wear crab costumes and seafood related attire, or reuse their Halloween costumes.

“Let’s make this fun. This doesn’t happen all the time, we don’t get local films coming through here,” Magee said. 

DVDs will be on sale at the show, and Magee said he will attempt to find a home for the movie online afterward. 

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-704-0355.

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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.