Director: Fred F. Sears
Writers: Samuel Newman and Paul Gangelin
Cast: Jeff Morrow, Mara Corday, Morris Ankrum, Louis D. Merrill, Edgar Barrier, Robert Shayne, Ruell Shayne, Clark Howat, and Morgan Jones
Composer: Mischa Bakaleinikoff
Release Date: 6/1957
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Spotting a UFO, electronics engineer Mitch MacAfee (Jeff Morrow) reports the incident to an Air Force base. Upon further investigation, MacAfee and mathematician Sally Caldwell (Mara Corday) discover that a giant, extraterrestrial bird—originally from an antimatter galaxy—has arrived on Earth.
Similar to Rodan, The Giant Claw introduces a gigantic, bird-like monster into an Atomic Age setting. Serious or critical science fiction buffs may nevertheless wish to avoid this film, which suffers from abysmal special effects, copious stock footage, and an anticlimactic finale.
During the log cabin sequence, certain horror movie tropes (e.g. lightning storms, tales of superstition regarding a terrible creature, and the petrified responses of a lone witness to said creature) work to generate suspense around the so-called Carcagne, which—perhaps fortunately—remains hidden at this point in the story.
Also praiseworthy are the performances of Jeff Morrow (This Island Earth and The Creature Walks Among Us) and Mara Corday (Tarantula), who, by reacting to La Carcagne in a serious manner, add a hint of much-needed gravitas to this film.
The Giant Claw deserves criticism for its low-grade production values, which mar an otherwise intriguing concept for a giant monster movie. Specifically, the infamous bird puppet fails to move in a realistic (or even remotely convincing) fashion, often bobbing its oversized head in a clumsy, ridiculous motion.
Additionally problematic is The Giant Claw’s heavy use of technobabble, serving to muddle the creature’s (already somewhat bizarre) origins, weaknesses, and physical properties. Many other Atomic Era sci-fi/horror classics (e.g. Godzilla, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, and The Monster That Challenged the World), in contrast, maintain a degree of logic and internal consistency to justify the notion of enormous, mutated animals wreaking havoc on Earth.
The Giant Claw is a poorly made effort from Fred F. Sears—best known for directing Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and The Werewolf. Fans of B-grade cinema may, however, appreciate the alien bird monster for its goofy (and therefore hilarious) appearance/movements.
Overall Quality: 4/10
If you enjoyed this post, please enter your email address in the subscription box to stay tuned for more updates.