31 Monsters in 31 Days: The Giant Claw

It’s common knowledge that a movie monster need not be particularly good to be memorable. In fact, when a creature is as astonishingly ill-conceived as the spindly-necked space turkey from THE GIANT CLAW it can earn itself a spot in cinema history alongside Jack Pierce’s Universal makeups and Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion beasts. That shouldn’t be, but there you have it.

THE GIANT CLAW is a typical B-movie programmer from journeyman director Fred F. Sears, in which a suspected UFO turns out to be a goofy, inarticulate marionette made on the cheap in Mexico. (It’s as if someone from the prop department hung a piece of crude folk art on strings and dangled it in front of the camera.) Like most low-budget creature features from its era, THE GIANT CLAW lags when the humans are on screen, thanks to a combination of arid stretches of dialogue and Jeff Morrow’s sad-sack of a leading man. The monster action itself isn’t especially good, given the limitations of the shoddy special effects, but the sheer chutzpah the filmmakers show in passing such a bad design off as an object of terror makes it incredibly entertaining.

Although one must give credit to the filmmakers for not trying to hide the creature’s shortcomings in the trailer, I suspect it was a preemptive strike against would-be theater patrons angry that they paid to see this poor a monster.

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