Last Christmas, creatures were stirring at the North Pole. The Doctor Who special featured the jolly old elf Santa Claus, but he was upstaged by the Dream Crabs: horrendous spindly spiders that drop from the ceiling, wrap themselves around your head then send you into a deep sleep while they eat your brain.
Aye, there’s the rub.
“It’s a cross between a jellyfish and a crab,” explains Rob Mayor from Millenium FX, the company that designed the beasties. “It’s got a blobby body to it and crab-like kind of legs.” “A blob fish was a reference,” Kate Walshe chips in.
How do you go about designing such a monstrosity? Apparently, you turn up to the meeting and make it up as you go along. “We got some of the script pages through and we didn’t really know everything they needed to do, so we were slightly winging it coming up with ideas,” Walshe says. As you can see from this concept art, the Crabs went through a lot of variations before they hatched on screen.
Sci-fi fans (and even some characters on the show) have noticed the resemblance between the Dream Crabs and the ‘Facehuggers’ from Ridley Scott’s classic horror movie Alien. “I can’t lie, that was a reference,” Mayor admits, “but it’s such a classic film that as soon as you have spider-like creatures running around, attaching themselves to people’s faces, you can’t help but make that comparison. We were quite mindful that we didn’t draw too much on that, because it’s a film we’ve all grown up with and Alien is a key influence in our line of work.”
Are the Dream Crabs the most disturbing monster ever? “I hope it’s up there,” says Mayor. “But hopefully series nine is going to top it,” says Walshe.