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Fred F. Sears
Jeff Morrow, Mara Corday, Morris Ankrum
Writing Credits:
Samuel Newman, Paul Gangelin

Global panic ensues when it is revealed that a mysterious UFO is actually a giant bird that flies at supersonic speed and has no regard for life or architecture.

Rated NA.


Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English LPCM Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 74 min.
Price: $99.95
Release Date: 9/14/21
Available as Part of “Cold War Creatures” Four-Film Collection

• Audio Commentary with Film Historians Emma Westwood and Cerise Howard
• Introduction by Film Historian Kim Newman
• “Family Endangered” Visual Essay
• Super 8 Version
• Trailer
• Image Gallery


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-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver;
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Giant Claw [Blu-Ray] (1957)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 15, 2021)

1950s science-fiction loved its enormous monsters. In that vein, we go to 1957’s The Giant Claw.

Test pilot Mitch MacAfee (Jeff Morrow) claims to spot a huge UFO. However, radar doesn’t pick up this intrusion, and his superiors dismiss him as a prankster.

Before long, events prove Mitch correct, as he really did spy a massive flying entity, which turns out to be a bird the size of a battleship. This avian menace creates destruction wherever it goes, so the humans need to figure out how to defeat this dangerous foe.

On its own, a story about a big killer bird sounds vaguely promising at its worst. At least the narrative comes with plenty of room for good action and excitement.

Unfortunately, Claw doesn’t pull off the hoped-for thrills. Despite a story that follows potential global apocalypse, this becomes an oddly dull experience.

Actually, I get the main reason Claw semi-bores: its budget. A tale like this needs the funds to pull off its ambition, but clearly the film didn’t enjoy much in terms of cash behind it.

This damages the project in a number of ways, but the primary concern stems from the way that Claw favors “tell” over “show”. Too much of the movie forces the characters to describe events rather than let us see them happen.

Again, I get this. Without much money available, Claw couldn’t rely on potentially expensive effects shots, so it tends to keep the alien bird-related mayhem to a minimum. Since we presumably paid to see said alien bird, however, this becomes a major issue.

Sure, some movies could milk infrequent shots of their threats for suspense and drama. For instance, both 1975’s Jaws and 1979’s Alien kept those title characters hidden much of the time but they became classics.

However, Claw director Fred F. Sears was no Steven Spielberg or Ridley Scott. Granted, poor Sears didn’t get much breathing room for his projects, as the man directed five movies in 1957 – a year after he directed nine flicks in 1956. Crud, Sears died in 1957 but still managed to make five more movies that came out in 1958.

When you get six to eight weeks to create a film, you don’t find much space to do more than deliver a semi-coherent project. In this light, I probably should praise Claw for the fact it remains watchable despite its flaws.

Still, this does often turn into a fairly dull “adventure”, one whose aforementioned reliance on dialogue over visuals turns into a major drawback. At least the climax manages some pretty decent action, albeit material held back due to the visual effects.

Of course, no one expects a movie from 1957 to match up to modern efforts. Nonetheless, the work done here seems awfully primitive, even by the standards of the era.

We easily see the wires meant to allow the title bird to fly, and the critter itself comes across as stiff and plastic. While I didn’t think the creature would become convincing, I figured I’d get something a bit more organic.

It doesn’t help that the creature’s design makes it feel more silly than scary. Essentially a mix of turkey and buzzard, the lead avian doesn’t manage to provide an appealing look.

This seems like a shame because our titular Claw comes with the potential to become a true terror. The film doesn’t soften the Claw, as it makes the bird a relentlessly violent and aggressive critter.

Claw comes with some scenes that could create genuine horror. Geez, we see the bird gulp down humans as they parachute from their destroyed planes! The Claw gives us a dark, relentless menace.

If only we got to see more of this violence and found ourselves less put off by the silly creature design. The Giant Claw comes with real potential and manages occasional moments of memorable action, but far too much of it drags.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus B

The Giant Claw appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though a little iffy at times, this was usually an appealing presentation.

Overall sharpness seemed good, but exceptions occurred, as some shots felt a bit soft. Nonetheless, the majority of the film offered positive delineation.

The image lacked jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. With a fine layer of grain, I suspected no digital noise reduction, and print flaws stayed minor. These popped up during stock footage mainly, so they created only modest distractions, though a few scattered other specks and lines materialized as well.

Blacks looked dark and deep, while shadows were smooth and clear. Overall, I felt pleased with the image, though it never quite excelled.

As for the film’s LPCM monaural soundtrack, it worked fine given the era of its origins. Speech remained a little thin but still appeared reasonably natural, without edginess or other issues.

Music showed pretty good range and punch, while effects came across as a bit lifeless but accurate and clean enough. The audio held up nicely over the last 64 years.

As we hear to extras, we open with an audio commentary from film historians Emma Westwood and Cerise Howard. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story, characters and themes, reflections of the movie’s era and genre, cast and crew, and critical interpretation.

Often commentaries try to convince the listener that these old, little-remembered movies offer hidden treasures. Westwood and Howard go in the opposite direction, as they openly mock and deride Claw. I actually think they come down a bit too hard on the film, but I still appreciate that the commentary lacks the usual gushing praise.

Otherwise, this becomes a decent but not great chat, partly because Westwood and Howard devote a little too much time to their views of the film itself and too little about the genre and production. While we get enough useful material to make the track worth a listen, it doesn’t quite excel.

We can watch the movie with or without an introduction by film historian Kim Newman. It goes for 12 minutes, 27 seconds as Newman delivers some notes about the flick, its genre and its creators. Newman gives us a decent lead in to the film.

Called Family Endangered, a 12-minute, 51-second “visual essay” from critic Mike White. He discusses general aspects of the four movies in the “Cold War Creatures” collection.

White offers some decent notes but we get similar notes from these films’ commentaries, so White’s remarks feel somewhat redundant. He attempts to tie the flicks together via themes of family but these concepts feel pretty loose, as he doesn’t really dig into them much.

Next comes a Super 8 Version of Claw. It spans six minutes, 29 seconds and indeed provides an abbreviated cut of the film.

Obviously it loses a whole lot of movie, as it runs nearly 70 minutes shorter than the finished product. To compensate, the Super 8 edition adds narration, but it still seems nearly incoherent.

Unsurprisingly, the print looks pretty terrible, too. Nonetheless, it becomes a cool historical curiosity.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we finish with an Image Gallery. It shows 23 shots that mix publicity stills and shots from the movie. It becomes a decent but kind of blah collection.

As 1950s enormous monsters go, The Giant Claw comes with enough engaging moments that it remains mostly watchable. However, it suffers from too many flawed story-telling choices and cheap effects to become better than mediocre. The Blu-ray brings generally positive picture and audio along with a mix of bonus materials. Claws boasts potential thrills but its weaknesses make it a problematic film.

Note that Giant Claw comes only as part of a four-film package called “Cold War Creatures”. In addition to Claw, it brings three other movies from producer Sam Katzman: Creature With the Atom Brain, The Werewolf and Zombies of Mora Tau.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
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