A pilot is testing planes for the Air Force when he encounters a UFO that nearly causes him to wreck his plane. He reports in but the radar doesn’t catch anything. Since he’s a reputed jokester, his commanding officers don’t believe him and when he lands, he gets chewed out. Turns out, he was right, only what was in the skies isn’t some alien spacecraft, but a giant flying monster, bent on destroying aircraft and, soon, anything that moves on the ground. A national panic sets in when the Air Force scrambles fighters and uses machine guns and missiles to try and kill it, but the assault does no damage. Meanwhile, the monster is scouring the countryside and the cities, wantonly killing. It is assessed that the bird is of extraterrestrial origin, that is comes from an anti-matter universe, and that it has some kind of force field around it that protects it from assault. The military must figure out a way to destroy that shield so they can shoot it down.
Every now and again I like to dip my toes into the old days, the monster movies from the 50s and even earlier. They’re a lot of fun and The Giant Claw was no exception. The premise is solid, the science is wacky, and there’s lots of action to go around. The romance between the two main characters is pretty believable and the moments of human drama are actually compelling and interesting. I love scientific mumbo-jumbo, and this film has that in spades, with lots of mutterings about “anti-matter” and “electrons” and “what science has taught us.” Good times. The biggest failing of the movie is the monster, which looks absolutely ridiculous and fake. I mean, really fake. They don’t try very hard to hide the wires, either. It looks like a starved turkey. The thing is, they really worked on the details of it, the rippling feathers in the wind, the blinking eyes, the breathing nostrils, but man, most of the time it’s so stiff it looks like a model rather than a living, breathing creature.
The Giant Claw is one of those Bug-Eyed-Monsters/Giant Monsters made famous in the 50s, and a movie I had never seen before. While it isn’t some compelling classic, it also isn’t cheap, garbage claptrap. Yeah, it’s funny at times, but it has enough action to warrant a viewing. If you’re into this kind of jam, this movie is right up your alley. If you’re not, but you’re curious, you should probably start with one of the classics of the subgenre, like Them. In any case, this is an hour and fifteen minutes well-spent on a Saturday afternoon, and Giant Claw provided a nice glimpse into yesteryear, and a nice distraction from our modern problems.
Three stars if the monster was better.