Also known as: The Mark of the Claw (working title)
Release Date: June, 1957
Directed by: Fred F. Sears
Written by: Paul Gangelin, Samuel Newman
Music by: Mischa Bakaleinikoff
Cast: Jeff Morrow, Mara Corday
Clover Productions, Columbia Pictures, 75 Minutes
“It’s hard to come up with answers when you don’t even know what the question is.” – Lt. Gen. Edward Considine
Last year, I made a list of the top 100 films that the revived Mystery Science Theater 3000 show should feature. This was one of the films that was really high up on that list. In fact, it’s really baffling that it never made it on the original show in any of its 11 seasons. This is the perfect film for MST3K riffing and the only real reason why they probably never tackled it was because securing the rights to feature it may have been too difficult or costly, since this is surprisingly owned by Columbia Pictures.
This isn’t just a throwaway giant monster movie, it is so much more. Sure, we’ve all seen big goofy monsters but the creature in this film is, by far, one of the strangest and laughably bad creations in Hollywood history. The creature is theorized to be from outer space and even referred to as a buzzard but it is really just a giant, mutated, cartoony vulture thing.
The creature flies through the skies and rips planes out of the air, eats people trying to escape via parachute and is essentially indestructible because it emits an invisible antimatter bubble around its body. So apparently missiles explode prematurely due to this antimatter bubble but yet, the bubble doesn’t prevent the creature from touching things, which makes no sense at all. This is a film filled with horrible and baffling scientific explanations. It’s like it was written by a six year-old that read about antimatter in a 1950s comic book.
The special effects are terrible and unintentionally hilarious. But that is what gives this film some of its charm. It also boasts atrocious acting and completely defies the laws of physics.
But all negatives aside, something about this film just works. There really isn’t a dull moment once the bird shows up and the action starts. I mean, you have to have some sort of appreciation for films like this, if you are going to watch it, but it excels in areas where similar films fail. It is equal parts better and worse than similar films. And really, it is impossible to hate and to just write off.
The bird is just too bizarre to not be appreciated.
Pairs well with: Other giant monster movies of the atomic paranoia era: Mantis, The Black Scorpion, It Came From Beneath the Sea, etc.