Reviews | Written by Martin Unsworth 29/07/2021

THE GIANT CLAW (1957) / THE WEREWOLF (1956)

A pair of creaky classics from producer Sam Katzman and director Fred F. Sears (best known for Earth vs the Flying Saucers) have been put together on this release from Australia’s Umbrella Entertainment.

The Giant Claw is a legendary movie - not particularly for the right reasons. Audiences have been drawn to it ‘ironically’ to laugh at the ridiculous bird, which resembles a flying turkey with visible wires and accompanying high pitch screech. However, behind the giggles, there’s a decent sci-fi creature feature here. Sure, it follows all the clichéd beats but it’s a lot of fun.

The plot involves a series of ‘unidentified’ sightings of a fast-moving flying object from aircrews but nothing is registering on the radar. When the suits discover the cause is actually a massive bird it’s almost too late as the creature circles the air looking for its next meal.

The Werewolf is a much more proficient picture. The titular character here is an amnesiac man who has appeared in a small town unaware of how he got there. When he’s robbed outside a bar, though, he transforms into a hairy, snarling beast. What follows could be a generic manhunt story, but it’s spiced up here by having the lycanthrope be the result of a pair of experimenting doctors. As well as the local sheriff and his crew, these two docs also want to find the man-beast, but only to cover up their actions.

The Werewolf plays like an extended episode of The Twilight Zone and is just as enjoyable. Steven Ritch portrays the sorry soul brilliantly; his tortured new existence painted on his face along with a lot of yak hair. The creature itself owes more to Matt Willis’ Andreas in The Return of the Vampire (1943) than Lon Chaney Jr’s Wolf Man and the transformation is still show as dissolves. The film should be much better known than it is as it’s an effective shocker with a lot of heart.

Unfortunately, this two-film set doesn’t come with any supplementary material and both films are on one disc, but they are presented in perfect condition. The black and white photography likely looking better than it did on release. A great chance to reappraise a pair of maligned classics.