Monday, July 1, 2013

Review 177: "The Giant Claw"

"A flying battleship"

Monster Madness

      A lot of people probably know about James Rolfe AKA the Angry Video Game Nerd, especially here in the land of the Internet. Recently, I have been rewatching all of his Monster Madness episodes and I saw his review of the 1957 monster movie, The Giant Claw. It looked hilarious, so when I found the movie on DVD a few days later along with some other monster movies, I knew I had to check it out. See, the Internet can do good things. Directed by Fred F. Sears (Earth vs the Flying Saucers) and written by Samuel Newman (Perry Mason) and Paul Gangelin (Tarzan's Lost Treasure), the film is produced by Sam Katzman, who has produced over 200 films and the DVD I found this on was a collection of his films. The movie itself follows Mitch MacAfee (Jeff Morrow), an engineer who teams up with scientist Sally (Mara Corday) in order to attempt to stop a giant, flying monster from completely devouring the Earth. Lead by General Considine (Morris Ankrum) and helped by Doctor Noymann (Edgar Barrier), they all must stop the giant monster once and for all.

That is the monster.
That is the Monster

      Yes, that is the monster. I'll give you a second to laugh, comprehend it, whatever you need to do. I'll wait... You good? Good. So, yeah, that is the monster. Did anyone really think that would be scary? I heard that originally the were going to use Ray Harryhausen, but they couldn't afford it. So what, did they have the director's niece make it instead? It look hilarious and it completely turns the film into a comedy. For most of the film, the monster just looks like a blurry rat that the filmmakers threw across the set. But, it close up, this is what we get. It's amazing. It's become a cult favorite monster and it's mostly why the film is so remembered today. They even knew it was bad. The filmmakers never showed anyone the monster until the screenings, which is why it never really appears in the marketing. Morrow said that he was so embarrassed during the screening that he went home in shame and got drunk. I don't think it's that bad. After all, it's at least a memorable monster and it makes for a fun movie.

Not the Monster 

      The rest of the film is fairly standard stuff for a 50s B-movie. No one believes that the monster is flying around and apparently, they only unit of measurement in this universe is battleships. The film explains the monster it typical over-the-top fashion. It has an antimatter force field around it that keeps it save, which they have to get through using "Mu-Mason" particles. Yeah, it crazy. There are some actual problems like how Morrow, who always seems like he is on the verge of tears. The film feels long even though it's only an hour and fifteen minutes long. Also, in more glaring errors, the scale of the monster always seems to be changing. Cars and trains are the same size and the monster is taller that a skyscraper on minute, and barely longer than a plane the never minute. But, it's made up for by some good ol' monster destruction. Seriously, the film must have taken place over six months and most of that time the monster was  just attacking cities and eating people. The film ends with the monster landing on the Empire State Building and eating it. It's simply amazing.

I wasn't kidding.
The Verdict

      The Giant Claw is a perfect example of a true so-bad-it's-good movie. The acting is cheesy, the technobabel is great and the destruction is awesome. While the film is a little long, it's a ton of fun to have a MST3K-style viewing of it The monster, though, is legendary. It's so spectacularly bad that it cross back over into good. Overall, seek it out and give it a watch with some friends. You won't be disappointed. The Giant Claw gets 4 and a half stars out of 6.

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