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The Giant Claw

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The puppet monster in "The Giant Claw"
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The Giant Claw (1957), starring Jeff Morrow, Mara Corday, Morris Antrum


In The Giant Claw, a giant bird appears out of nowhere, the size of a battleship. invisible to radar. And in movie monster tradition, it starts attacking everyone and everything. How will the Earth survive? By laughing at the ridiculously silly effects, apparently.


Frankly, The Giant Claw wouldn’t have been a terrible movie if they’d spent money on their special effects. Not a great movie, much less a classic. But, not the giant turkey that it is. No pun intended. The effects are reminiscent of Reptilicus, another “when puppets attack” monster movie. But The Giant Claw frankly isn’t as charming, or entertaining, as that movie.

It’s a silly concept — a giant space vulture puppet, from an anti-matter galaxy, somehow comes to Earth. Where it has some bizarre force field protecting it from our positive-matter universe, otherwise it would simply explode. And the electrical engineer who first spotted it figures out how to destroy that field with a beam of subatomic particles. And, the entire world panics mindlessly.

In short, it’s a bad monster movie. It’s enjoyable to watch with friends, and a tub of popcorn, to mock it mercilessly while watching. Enjoy!

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Cast of characters

  • Jeff Morrow (This Island Earth, The Story of Ruth) … Mitch MacAfee. The electrician engineer who first spots the giant bird.
  • Mara Corday (Tarantula) … Sally Caldwell. Mathematician, who’s initially hostile to Mitch. Following the 1950’s movie monster cliches, they’re soon falling in love. Kissing on an airplane, until another passenger asks them to keep it quiet!
  • Morris Ankrum (Earth vs the Flying Saucers, Red Planet Mars) … Lt. Gen. Edward Considine. The military man who leads the defense against the bird. The actor does a good job with the silly script.
  • Louis Merrill (The Lady from Shanghai) … Pierre Broussard. Poor Pierre. Nice enough fellow who helps Mitch and Sally after a plane crash. He saw the giant space-vulture. So, according to an old Cajun legend, he’s doomed to die.
  • Edgar Barrier (Cyrano de Bergerac 1950) … Dr. Karol Noymann
  • Robert Shayne (Christmas in Connecticut, Mr. Skeffington) … Gen. Van Buskirk
  • Frank Griffin … Pete – Pilot
  • Clark Howat (Airport) … Maj. Bergen
  • Morgan Jones (Forbidden Planet) … Lieutenant – Radar Officer

Editorial Review of The Giant Claw courtesy of

Fear and panic are the keywords of this film. At every opportunity the narration attempts to make the audience feel this, but the sight of a giant bird doesn1t instil panic. The big bird eats airmen. We are told by a scientist something about anti-matter and how it must exist. Then we have to jump the credibility gap to believe that this bird came from an anti-matter universe, and so it has a force-field around it (?!). The physics makes no sense, neither does the logic. The bird attacks all the major cities and so there is world-wide panic. Why? one asks. Well one shouldn’t ask.

There is world-wide fear. Then martial law is declared around the world. Food and movement is controlled by the military, there is a curfew, and a range of other draconian measures. If people ignore these, they get eaten by the bird. We then see what science is about, as Mitch attempts to develop a strange gun. He fails many times, in true science tradition, we are told. Panic spreads to all corners of the Earth. No-one explains satisfactorily why there would be such panic. Not only panic but ‘panic and nightmare terror’. All because of a giant budgie.

[Updated September 14, 2023]

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