Battleship, Battleship, Battleship

Although maligned, mocked, and criticized, Giant Claw’s detractors get it wrong. It’s understandable: look at the title creature, with its misshapen face, bizarrely tiny body, balding mohawk, and yes, oversized claws.

Yet, there’s a certain maniacal personality to this bird thing, stiff wings and crummy miniatures aside. The nose snarls, the eyes dart around the scene, the mouth is terrifying when seen in close, and rather than ferocious, the Giant Claw looks outright sinister. To some extent, it’s wholly effective in absolute absurdity.

Giant Claw is among the best-in-class for non-studio monster flicks

Human drama works too, played out in a routine script that matches any number of 1950s monster movies, but led by the enjoyable wit of Jeff Morrow. He’s a delight, snapping back at those who doubt he witnessed an outer space turkey attack his plane. UFO mania in effect, Morrow is playing “that” guy whose claims of extraterrestrials are met with irritating derision.

While highly educated, he conveys an every man ideal, stepping away from the government to find solutions on his own. That’s unheard of for the decade, which often served to continue militaristic pride and trust in authority post WWII. Sam Katzman’s Creature with the Atom Brain, released two years prior, focused on a whole-of-government approach, as if a PSA. Yet The Giant Claw hones in on the outsider who doesn’t necessarily distrust officials, so much as handle a worldwide catastrophe himself minus the political bickering.

Giant Claw even dismisses the typical budding romance that plagued these genre movies. Morrow is already with Tarantula’s Mara Corday, also beyond genre norms as she handles calculations for the monster-destroying super weapon. She doesn’t helplessly scream, but contributes to this plan to save the world.

Aside from its science lesson, Giant Claw’s pacing means no boredom sets in, even amid the chatty interactions with military generals. The goofy bird crunches people on the regular. Stock footage from other Katzman productions fill in budgetary gaps, and if not on screen, the hilariously obnoxious cackle coming from the alien turkey keeps the flying critter present. So many of these rushed giant and/or man-size creature movies from the era fall when trying to keep an audience awake. That’s not the case here, and Giant Claw is among the best-in-class for non-studio monster flicks from the decade.

Video

On the better side of the Cold War Creatures set, The Giant Claw sports a master that appears more recent than the others. Other than mild ringing in spots, it’s authentic and film-like. Aside from gobs (and gobs) of stock footage, it’s reasonably crisp. Sharpness isn’t spectacular, but sufficient in pushing fidelity. Facial texture pops from the ’50s era stock. Well refined grain maintains purity, easily handled by Arrow’s encode.

Wide ranging gray scale offers excellent contrast, letting the highlights blossom. Shadows bring depth, solid and stable, much like the print overall. Again, aside from the over worn stock footage, minimal damage sticks out from the frame. There’s no telecine wobble to report either.

Audio

Mixed absurdly low (requiring seven notches higher than norms), the PCM track is otherwise fine. Aside from the highest peaks (a plane whining as it crashes), treble shows great stability. Crispness in the dialog is better than most from this period. A light score doesn’t stretch the range. Uncompressed audio certainly can’t help the bird’s irritating shrieking.

Extras

Emma Westwood and Cerise Howard take this one on via commentary. Mike White delivers a visual essay on the Cold War elements in Katzman’s movies. Kim Newman spends 12-minutes on his introduction. There’s a Super 8 version, with images and trailers afterward.

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The Giant Claw
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

The Giant Claw is about a cackling turkey from space and utterly ridiculous, but joyously goofy 1950s giant monster exploitation.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 38 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: