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THE GIANT CLAW (1957) **

Every bad movie fan owes it to themselves to check this movie out.  It features one of the WORST monsters ever seen on the silver screen, and if that isn’t a worthwhile recommendation, I don’t know what is. 

 

Jeff (This Island Earth) Morrow stars as a jet pilot named Mitch who sees a giant bird monster but no one believes him.  When the enormous eagle swallows up a couple pilots, the Army hires Mitch to help kill it.  The first order of business though is to find it’s nest and shoot the creature’s eggs so there aren’t MORE gigantic gulls with titanic talons flying around.  Well, that makes the monster REALLY mad, and it flies into the city and destroys a couple buildings.  Since the monster is covered by an impenetrable force field, the military has to shoot it with “atomic spitballs” in order to kill it; but all they really had to do was cut the clearly visible strings that were keeping the damned thing up. 

 

You may have seen some crummy looking monsters before, but you ain’t seen nothing unless you’ve seen The Giant Claw.  You’ll have to wait a good half an hour to see the giant bird for yourself, but it’s definitely worth the wait.  It looks like a cross between a demented vulture and an anorexic turkey.  As animatronic avians go, it looks about as lifelike as Big Bird.

 

The monster effects, though completely retarded looking, will keep you in stitches.  The scene where the bird attacks a group of parachuters and gobbles them up one by one is priceless.  The bird’s other victims include cattle, horses, hot rodding teenagers and one annoying superstitious Mexican.  Trust me you haven’t lived until you see a monster that looks like a drunken piñata swoop down from the sky to scarf down on an illegal immigrant. 

 

Speaking of bad models being held up by strings, the airplanes in this movie also look like they came directly from the dime store.  All you’ll be able to think about during the scenes where the planes duke it out with the monster is “Oh my God, I hope their strings don’t get tangled up!”  There’s also a hilarious effect of the spinning Earth that looks like a painted beach ball tossed in for good measure too.  

 

Every time the goofy looking monster shows up, it’s damn good times, but unfortunately everything involving Morrow and the lamebrain scientists is boring as all get out.  The movie is also padded with tons of stock footage and gratuitous narration (“It was a feathered nightmare with wings!”) that will make you want to pull your hair out.  The scenes of the phony flamingo are pretty great, but ultimately there are way too many laborious scenes involving humans with the personalities of unupholstered furniture that get in the way of the fun.

 

Producer Sam Katzman saved a LOT of money on the effects in this one by hiring a bunch of Mexicans to create the infamous monster.  Maybe if he let THEM direct the picture instead of Fred F. (The Werewolf) Sears, it could have been a laugh a minute classic, instead of a sporadically amusing cult item. 

 

Even though Katzman cut corners on the budget, some of the dialogue is worth a million bucks. 

 

Like when Morrow showcases his doubts about his plan for killing the monster:  “It’s one of those cockeyed concepts that you pull down from Cloud Eight somewhere in sheer desperation!”

 

Or how about when one of the fighter pilots does battle with the oversized ostrich and says:  “Yow!  Holy Toledo!  I’ve seen some mighty big chicken hawks back on the farm, but man, this baby takes the cake!  Honest to God, I’ll never call my mother in law an old crow again!”

 

But it’s a random puzzled scientist that gets the movie’s best line:  “That bird is extra-terrestrial.  It comes from outer space from some God forsaken, anti-matter galaxy millions and millions of light years from the Earth.  No other explanation is possible.”

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