Friday night at the home drive-in: The Giant Claw (1957)

Poster for The Giant Claw (1957)The Giant Claw (1957) by #FredFSears w/#JeffMorrow #MaraCorday

produced by #SamKatzman

A UFO turns out to be a giant prehistoric bird with an appetite for airplanes.

“Winged Monster from 17,000,000 B.C.! Big as a Battleship! Flies 4 Times the Speed of Sound! Atomic Weapons Can’t Hurt It!”

#Horror #SciFi

The first thing that I noticed when I watched The Giant Claw (1957), is that it’s a lot like The Deadly Mantis (1957) – at least at first. So much so, that I found myself thinking “Didn’t I just write about this a few months back?”

Both movies sort of begin in Canada, at the DEW Line – or Distant Early Warning Line. This was a system of radar stations in the arctic that would be able to detect nuclear missiles (or any other attack) coming from the U.S.S.R. and heading for the U.S.A.. In both movies, the DEW Line seems to be manned by U.S. military people. In reality, I think it was a mix of U.S. and Canadian personnel, but I don’t really know a lot about it.

In both movies, it’s at the DEW Line that an unidentified flying creature is first detected – although no one quite believes it. In The Giant Claw (1957), the mysterious creature fails to show up on radar, so everyone thinks the pilot who reports it is crazy (or lying). But as more people start to see the creature, it becomes obvious that they are dealing with a very real, and very destructive, giant prehistoric bird (possibly from outer space). What’s stranger, is that this bird seems to have an appetite for airplanes. 

At one point, our heroes – Mitch and Sally, played by Jeff Morrow and Mara Corday, crash land after their plane is attacked by the giant bird. They wind up rescued by a local farmer, named Pierre, who appears to be French Canadian (although the movie claims that he and the other local French people moved across the border into United States some time ago). Just as well, as it’s not a very believable portrayal of French Canadians (or French anyones for that matter).

Words can’t really describe how truly awesome this movie is to fans of #NotQuiteClassicCinema. It’s a wonderfully campy delight from beginning to end. Produced by Sam Katzman, who was known for pumping out movies quickly and cheaply, The Giant Claw features a monster that must be seen to be believed. Legend has it that Sam Katzman paid a Mexican model maker $50.00 to design the creature. Embarrassed star Jeff Morrow claimed that the audience at the premiere laughed every time the monster appeared on the screen.

I can’t say for sure if this story is true, but I can say that The Giant Claw is now one of my favourite giant monsters of all time, and I laughed – and cheered – every time it appeared on screen.

People have called The Giant Claw “the best of the worst” and “the best of the so-bad-it’s-good movies” – and they aren’t wrong. It’s a #NotQuiteClassicCinema masterpiece, as far as I’m concerned. Those who choose to watch movies based upon the number of awards they’ve won, or their very high scores on movie review sites, may want to steer clear of this one. However, those with a taste for the finer things in life, like the cinema of Ed Wood and/or Al Adamson, should immediately locate and schedule The Giant Claw (1957) for their next #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn