Thursday, October 09, 2008

31 Days of Halloween - Day 9 Movie 1

Much has been said about the really bad special effects in "The Giant Claw" (1957), and they are bad, though it's more that they're photgraphed poorly than anything. There's some nice editing between model jets and stock footage, which would have worked better if the models were lighted and shot to appear real. Yes, the puppet of the giant vulture-like bird of the title is a bad design and poorly manipulated and photographed, as if someone went out of their way to make sure every support wire was visible.

Those are problems, but problems I'd overlook if it weren't for the aspect of this movie that truly makes it bad; the screenplay. It's heavy on pointless exposition, repetitious analogies, and poor jokes and worse romantic banter. I give the capable cast credit for doing their best at delivering these lines with the gravity they manage. I'm sure that in the backs of their minds, they were reminding themselves that this job would pay the mortgage.

The plot involves a giant bird that comes from some place else, probably outer space, to build a nest on earth while destroying airplanes and lots of other stuff in the process. Because of its unknown origin it is invisible to radar and immune to bullets and missiles, until the hero creates a way to break through its anti-matter force field so that artillery can destroy it.

How big is this bird? Depending on the scene, the size varies. In some scenes it can fit a jet in its mouth. It's footprint is shown to cover an entire farmer's field, yet later is only big enough to pick up a hot rod. Later it's bigger than the Empire State Building which it perches on and destroys, only to shrink back down to a size where a B-2 bomber is about as big as its torso.

Do I care? No. If the story and dialogue hadn't been so tedious, I would have found this movie, goofy special effects and all, charming. It's not as much of a chore to sit through as say, "Robot Monster," but it's probably best appreciated with a large audience guffawing at what's on the screen, or seen on "Mystery Science Theater 3000."


Stephen said...

Holy crap, is that picture for real? I've seen muppets that are more convincing than that.

John Rozum said...

Yes, and I chose a photo that was somewhat flattering. Even my son, whose really good at suspending his disbelief, thought it looked pretty shoddy. (Of course, once the movie was over I noticed he ran off to introduce a large rubber eagle toy into his Godzilla pantheon, so it must have succeeded on some level. The rubber eagle looked more convincing though.)