Directed by Fred F. Sears [Other horror films: The Werewolf (1956), Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)]
I’ve only heard the vaguest notions about this giant monster movie, but that doesn’t really matter, as many of those late ’50’s giant monster movies aren’t really that different. This one certainly possesses some charm, and I think the science used in the film went all out, but boy, what a regrettable monster design.
I mean, that design looks so, so bad, the main problem being that the face that they use for the close-up doesn’t look threatening in the least, but extraordinarily goofy. It doesn’t do the movie any good when the main focus, the monster, just looks so ridiculous.
Aside from that admittedly large issue, though, The Giant Claw is okay.
The scientific explanation for this giant bird was certainly detailed. I got the whole matter/anti-matter stuff (you’re reading a guy who’s read Angels & Demons by Dan Brown multiple times), but once they got into mesa and stuff, I got as lost as that general. They could have just stuck with a giant bird, but whoever worked on the science in this film just went all out with an explanation I didn’t follow in the least, so I appreciate that.
Really, the only two performances that matter are those of Jeff Morrow (This Island Earth and The Creature Walks Among Us) and Mara Corday (Tarantula and The Black Scorpion), and I have no complaints with their characters. Their growing romance is sort of cute, and their plane banter was fun. I thought the two worked well with each other, and that helped make them feel not so stereotypical.
Oh, I guess you could count the Rod Sterling-esque narrator as another character. Seriously, as the narrator (who probably has a name, but I can’t find him credited) speaks at the beginning, it sounds legit just like the beginning of a Twilight Zone episode, almost hilariously so. And this is before Twilight Zone started, so it makes me wonder if this was more influential than we knew.
The Giant Claw isn’t a great movie, but I didn’t have a terrible time with it, and it’s not like it takes a lot of time to get through either. Also, as horrible as the bird looked, seeing it destroy building or just pick up whole trains like a boss was sort of cool. And that science – some in-depth stuff.