Jul 6, 2016

The Giant Claw

Some movies are so bad they’re good, and some movies are just ... bad. My husband and I enjoy watching them both and I thought it would be fun to share the best of the worst. So without further ado, here’s my bad movie review of the week. I leave it up to you to decide whether the movie is bad, or just the review. ;-)

Also known as Mark of the Claw, this was one of the better stupid movies we’ve seen in a while. This low-budget, black and white film was made in 1957 and features a cast of unknowns. We watched it using our TiVo to access YouTube and it was pretty good quality.

It begins at the North Pole where electronic engineer Mitch is flying around so the people in the military station below can test the radar equipment. He sees an unidentified flying object “as big as a battleship.” The guys in the station are not impressed - nothing else showed up on their radar.

It flies by again and Mitch chases after it. He insists there’s something out there. He doesn’t know what, but it’s big and it’s fast. The radar guy presses a big button that says “Hot Button” and the interceptors are launched into the air.

When Mitch returns to the station, he’s given a cool reception. Not only did the interceptors not see anything, one of them didn’t come back. As Mitch hangs his head in shame, the radar guy gets a phone call that an air force transporter plane is missing. The pilot said something about a UFO before the radio went dead, but nothing showed up on the radar.

So Mitch and Sally, a mathematician who was also at the station, fly back to New York in a small plane. The pilot keeps looking around nervously and spots a UFO. There’s some really heavy turbulence and not only is the pilot knocked unconscious, they lose and engine. Mitch takes over and they crash land, apparently in Canada.

A friendly French-Canadian moonshiner takes them to his house. The police take away the body of the pilot (he died when the plane exploded and they all hit the dirt). General Buskirk phones to ream Mitch out, claiming he put the pilot up to calling in to report a UFO. Even Sally doesn’t believe in the UFO, although something hit the plane.

It’s really stormy out there and Pierre goes out to calm the livestock. He screams like a little girl, and Mitch and Sally go rushing out and find him unconscious. They drag him back inside and when he wakes up he begins blubbering about la Carcagne, a winged creature that looks like a woman with a wolf’s head. Legend has it if you see this creature it’s a sign you’re going to die soon.

As the police drive Mitch and Sally to the nearest airport we’re given a camera shot of a really big bird footprint in Pierre’s field. There’s a lot of flirting going on during the plane ride and arguing about what the object could be. Something Sally says triggers a thought in Mitch. He maps out the sightings of the UFO and finds a widening spiral pattern. Sally’s still skeptical about it being a UFO and Mitch starts to pout. Then they start kissing.

A military plane flies towards where Sally and Mitch crashed and is attacked by a giant bird-like creature. How can I do the description justice? I can’t, so here’s a picture of it.

The military guys are forced to jump ship and the bird eats them one by one.

Mitch and Sally don’t know anything about this until some military guys come to get them from their hotel. Then they learn there’s been two more sightings and another plane was destroyed. This time there were reports of a giant bird, not a UFO. Mitch and Sally go with the general to a facility in Washington.

Their biggest concern seems to be why the radar can’t pick it up. The big wigs are getting pretty hot under the collar and everyone takes turns having hissy fits. One of the squadrons they have up in the air have spotted it and the general gives the order to shoot it down. Then he puts the radio on speaker so everyone can hear what’s going on.

First we hear the pilots cracking lame bird jokes, then the bird starts screeching at them. Their rockets don’t affect it and the bird munches on a plane. The pilot bails out and the bird eats him. The general notifies the joint chiefs and more arguing ensues: “It’s just a bird!”, “Ten million dollars worth of radar equipment can’t track it!”

The two generals, Mitch, and Sally go to a research lab where they’ve been looking at the plane wreckage (not sure which plane). The researcher explains about atoms, and matter and anti-matter. The bird somehow generates an anti-matter screen which causes the radar to just slide around it. But the bird can open the screen to use its beak and claws as weapons.

They found a feather from it and it defies analysis: “The bird comes from some godforsaken anti-matter galaxy billions of light years away." One of the generals suggests they all pray.

Meanwhile, the bird that’s supposed to be a closely guarded secret buzzes a beach, then London, then snacks on some people in a square and somehow sets fire to a road. Sally runs some figures for Mitch in her “calculating machine” and speculates on why the bird came here. Could it be looking for a place to nest?

For some reason they figure the most obvious place to look for a nest is back at Pierre’s farm, so off she and Mitch go. With Pierre’s help they actually do find a nest, but don’t spot the egg until the bird lands on it. Mitch shoots holes in it and mama bird ain’t too pleased. Pierre has run off and the bird gets him.

Mitch thinks he’s figured out how to get past the bird’s shield. There’s a lot sciencey talk about masic atoms - if they can get close enough to the bird to bombard it with masic atoms they can bring down the anti-matter shield, so they proceed to build a machine to do so.

Failure after failure after failure and they’re losing hope. Panic and terror have spread to all corners of the earth - the bird is shown flying away, a train trailing behind it like sausage links. Mitch finally figures out how to get the machine to work (blowing himself up in the process) and everyone does a happy dance.

While they get the plane ready, the bird perches on the empire state building (of course) and chews the top off of it. For some reason the falling pieces are exploding. The plane is on its way and they spot the bird on top of the UN building now. It seems pretty proud of the mess it’s making.

The bird chases the plane, people are running, oops! There goes another building. The bird is right on the tail of the plane and they start shooting the atoms at it, then they shoot the bird with rockets. They got it! The bird falls into the water belly up.

As THE END flashes across the screen we have one last glimpse of the bird - one clawed foot sticking up out of the water, like it’s giving us the finger.

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