21 April 2008

The Giant Claw

United States - 1957
Director – Fred F. Sears
Goodtimes Home Video, 1989, VHS

The more of these old black and white monster flicks I watch the more I like them and the more I want to watch, especially if I get them for 2 bucks on tape.

The Giant Claw is one such film, bristling with stiff Cold War military paranoia and posturing. The narration; about as colorful as a classroom etiquette and hygene training film. Bad boy electronics engineer Mitch MacAfee flies planes around to test the sparkly new RADAR system he’s building for the military. On one such flight he sees a blurry distant monster of tremendous proportions as it flies past. After reporting it to HQ, some fighter jets are scrambled and one fails to return after a fruitless search. Scorned as a prankster since the object never appeared on RADAR, MacAfee is soon vindicated by another sighting. After boarding yet another plane, MacAfee and his mathematician coworker Sally Caldwell (Mara Corday) are attacked and the plane crashes on a remote farm maintained by a superstitious French Canadian bootlegger who gets them drunk on cider.

Suddenly the bootlegger is attacked, and goes insane leading to another plane flight in which MacAfee sexually assaults Sally and they banter coyly. We are now to assume that they are engaged an established well functioning intimate relationship.

Finally, another plane flight later and with the sounds of rainforest jungle piped in the monster appears. It's a giant bird, wobbly rubber neck and stiff wooden wings suspended menacingly from a system of visible wires. Tracking it with their fancy SuperRADAR the Army Air Corps attacks it, but all their conventional weapons are useless.

After a lecture on atomic nonsense by a clammy-faced professor, MacAfee sweats out the plans for a special kind of atom gun while Sally feeds him sandwiches and coffee. Meanwhile, the feathered nightmare on wings is no slouch either, reducing the populace to a shrieking mass of delicious crunchy bird-feed running through the streets.

Sally squeezes out the idea that the bird might have a nest, and so she and Mitch go out and shoot the giant eggs before heading back to the lab to build the anti-matter gun that will save humanity from The Giant Claw.
An old poster for The Giant Claw which says the bird is prehistoric, a fact never mentioned in the film itself:

Mara Corday from the October 1958 Playboy:

1 comment:

Regis said...

I saw stills from this when I was about 9 and was simply terrified at the giant floppy muppet.

I would really like to see more moving using old fashioned sloppy animatronics and puppetry.