The Giant Claw is one of the greatest of all ‘50s sci-fi giant monster features. It’s not for any message, great special effects, or solid actors. No, it’s the monster, a 200-foot tall space turkey with a face not even a mother could love. This hysterically bad effort manages to come out on top for its sheer ridiculousness and entertainment value.
Just one year earlier, Fred F. Sears would direct the true classic Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. It’s amazing how quickly the mighty can fall. This routine, standard ’50s monster run amok flick follows the predictable pattern fans know and love. Mystery builds, science is baffled, creature attacks, plan is formed, creature attack is cut short.
Everything up to the point of the full monster reveal plays fine. The atmosphere is solid, the stock soundtrack builds tension, and the actors do a fine job of playing their stereotypical roles of scientist, military, and female tag-along.
Then it happens — the first moment in The Giant Claw where you simply have to burst out in hysterical laughter as the puppet shows itself for the first time on screen. This is by far the worst monster design you’ll ever see, complete with bulging eyeballs, disgusting neck, misshapen teeth, and a hair style you won’t be able to take your eyes off of.
It’s harsh enough that this thing is hideous to look at and completely unbelievable. It becomes worse when it moves. Some times the wings flap, other times it can change direction defying all physics and not even move a feather. It must be the clearly visible strings holding both it and any attacking jets (that aren’t stock footage) up on the set.
More special effect hilarity ensues as the actors continue to play it straight. One of the most obvious miniature trains in cinematic history is actually used twice, once for a montage and once for a late attack scene. The three (total) buildings the bumbling buzzard takes a chunk out of rarely match the other scenery.
Sears even bastardizes his own film, randomly inserting shots from Earth vs. the Flying Saucers to make it seem as if the creature is actually doing something to make it a threat. Other scenes are lifted from The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Funnier yet, even these scenes are replayed multiple times throughout the course of the movie.