Classics of the Corn: The Giant Claw (1957)

Some B-movies are dull, some are hilariously bad, and some walk the line between “so-bad-it’s-good” and brilliant. The Giant Claw belongs to that last type — incredibly corny, and at the same time 100% enjoyable.

The film opens with some paranoid narration about how the world has gotten smaller, and time has lost all of its meaning. There are threats in the sky, and radar must be used to detect them.

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

A few scientists are about to find out just what type of threat is lurking in the sky. They’re gathered in a lab, measuring a test flight that has been scheduled in order to check the effectiveness of the radar and find its blindspots. The test pilot reports a mysterious object flying near him, which isn’t being picked up on radar.

As it turns out, this unidentified flying object is a fast-flying, killer, anti-matter space-bird “as big as a battleship.” And that bird is hell-bent on destroying the Earth!

(Image via Horrorpedia)

(Image via Horrorpedia)

A “feathered nightmare on wings,” the bird first taunts the scientists as they try to learn more about it. Later, it casts a large shadow over pool parties and the world’s major cities, inciting mass hysteria across the globe.

The Giant Claw is full of corny dialogue:

A legend states that “If you see this big bird, it’s a sign that you’re gonna die… real soon.”

A scientist questions the need for heavy artillery to face the monster, exclaiming “Guns, canons, rockets… it’s just a bird!”

And upon learning that the killer bird may be building a nest, a shocked Jeff Morrow (as engineer/test pilot Mitch) whispers “Nest… eggs… MORE BIRDS!” Clearly, Mitch has a gift for coming to logical conclusions, using his brain-power to answer the age old question of “Which came first, the anti-matter bird or the egg?”

While the dialogue has a lot of cheese, the cast deserves some credit for delivering it with such sincerity. They try their darnedest to make it all believable, and they actually come very close to succeeding.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by the quality of this film! The performances are a major contributor. The “anti-matter” element of this particular monster adds some interest to the story, too. This, along with the fact that the majority of characters are scientists of some sort, puts emphasis on the scientific side of the story rather than the thrills. I expected it to be much more obviously low-budget and cheese-filled, but it has some real tension as the scientists seek the truth.

That is, it has some real tension as long as the monster stays off-screen. The anti-matter bird himself is every bit as low-budget and corny-looking as I expected/hoped, and comes complete with screechy vocal sound effects. (The bird’s call sounds a bit like “RAT! RA-RAT! RAT! RA-RAT!”) The attack scenes had me laughing out loud, particularly the climactic attack on New York City.

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

One more note I’d like to make about this film is that I adore Mara Corday’s character of Sally, the lead female. She’s a mathematician and systems analyst. She has a killer sarcastic sense of humor. She’s given a romantic subplot, but isn’t expected to give up her job in favor of that romance. The character is a great one, with more depth and balance than is usually seen from female characters in sci-fi creature features.

Surprisingly well-made but with plenty of cheese-induced laughs as well, The Giant Claw is worth the time of any fan of the corn. It’s a completely delightful B-movie. Corny Cliff Scale Score: 4/5

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4 thoughts on “Classics of the Corn: The Giant Claw (1957)

  1. MovieManJackson says:

    This sounds amazing! I have this station that I hardly eve watch anymore, but has a block about every Saturday night where they play extremely so bad they’re good movies.This sounds like it would fit fight in!

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    • Lindsey says:

      That sounds awesome! We have a couple of local channels that play old movies & tv shows but nothing quite as fun as ‘The Giant Claw,’ haha. Luckily, films like this are usually very cheap on DVD or are in the public domain and easy to find online.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Blakeney says:

    I love this movie. I like to pretend that the giant bird is turkey (though it looks more like a vulture). I think this should be shown on tv as a “holiday classic” around Thanksgiving time!

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