Electronics expert Mitch MacAfee (Jeff Morrow) is on a test flight for the American Air Force; all is going smoothly when suddenly he spots something huge winging its way across the sky. He calls control and asks if anyone has reported a U.F.O. in the area, but according to the radar operator there's nothing up there except Mitch. When he lands, he goes to see the General, Van Buskirk (Robert Shayne), and asks what went on only to be admonished for wasting the military's time - until news reaches them of a mystery object and a missing plane...
This infamous laugh riot was brought to you by producer extraordinaire Sam Katzman, with a script by Paul Gangelin and Samuel Newman. The chief reason for its so-bad-it's-good reputation is the creature, for this is a fifties' giant monster movie a long way after King Kong. That's what the U.F.O. Mitch saw was, an enormous bird and it has a penchant for plucking aircraft out of the skies and chomping up the passengers. To call the special effects ridiculous is being kind, they're an absolute howl perhaps because of the look of incredulity on the puppet's face.
It's a very obvious puppet - Ray Harryhausen's stop motion effects were too expensive for Katzman, supposedly - that appears to be a reject from Sesame Street, Big Bird gone bad if you will. But that's not the only daft thing about The Giant Claw as the script has to shoulder some of the blame as well. The explanation for the monster, which won't show up on radar and is impervious to the Air Force's firepower, given by the resident scientist is so unbelieveable that you half-expect men in white coats to wander on and carry him back to the home he escaped from.
Yes, the Claw is actually an extraterrestrial that is surrounded by an anti-matter shield (why didn't you think of that?) and our heroes must find a method of penetrating that atomic armour to stop it eating all the planes. And in between all that, he-man Mitch can romance glamorous mathematician Sally Caldwell (Mara Corday) while they set about their problem solving. There's also a lot of stock footage, honestly the first five minutes contain hardly any orginal shots, mostly military aircraft and their accompanying accoutrements.
Naturally, the bird has to end up on top of the Empire State Building, which it callously destroys, before the finale, but in addition it lays a massive egg in a bigger nest that must be destroyed by Mitch, Sally and a hapless local who thinks superstitiously that seeing the abomination means certain death. Well, it does for him, as Sally is keen to point out. Mainly, when not foolhardily taking to the skies for the umpteenth time, the characters spend their hours snapping at each other, then apologising and comforting one other, which can get repetitive. It's the Claw you'll be watching for though, its awkwardness hilarious and guaranteed to cheer you up - who says this is a bad movie? It's great fun. Music by Mischa Bakaleinikoff.