I love it, especially you Achilles heel description: "exposure to a particular radioactive isotope will collapse The Giant Claw's force field, making it vulnerable to 1950's military aircraft." I enjoy the specificity.
Also, I watched the review you linked, and I have to say that I essentially agreed on all counts. I'd love to own the model of the big space bird, too.
Plot in a Sentence: Earth is threatened by the greatest marionette ever!
"This good applejack; I make it myself. Fine for the snakebite."
Flying battleship, pink elephant, same difference."
Mitch MacAfee, flying Sherlock Holmes."
"You keep your shirt on, I'll go get my pants on."
"That makes me chief cook and bottle washer in a one-man bird watcher society."
"Now, what you're saying in essence is that black is white and two and two is six?"
"Yow! Holy Toledo! I've seen some mighty big chicken hawks back on the farm, but, man, this baby takes the cake."
"It's like we're hitting a battleship with a slingshot."
"It doesn't make sense, it's just a bird. A big bird. Guns, cannons, rockets, it's just a bird!"
"Who's afraid of the big bad bird?"
First, thanks to everyone who suggested this movie because it was AWESOME. That poster up above cannot do The Giant Claw justice. I have rarely laughed so hard as the first time the actual monster bird showed up on screen. It was a revelation, easily one of the funniest things I have ever seen.
The Giant Claw, the model of the bird notwithstanding, is a pretty classic atomic age story of science vs the undiscovered. The movie starts with "an electronics engineer, a radar officer, a mathematician and systems analyst, radar operator, a couple of plotters; people doing a job. Well. Efficiently." That's such a great description of people just getting down to some serious science. These are people of keen intelligence and sober dispositions, and they're advancing our technological understanding when they discover something inexplicable. A UFO.
Once they've identified that the phenomenon is a vast cosmic raptor come to the Earth for still unexplained reasons, the military reacts as one might expect. They try to cook that goose. It ends badly. The bird has some kind of protection that makes it impervious to out weapons, an anti-matter field. An anti-matter field. Just let that soak in. The giant bird generates and controls a field of anti-matter that protects it from incoming attacks while still allowing it to strike out with its talons and beak. An anti-matter field. Amazing.
Notes on the Bird:
I love the model. It was spectacular, and if you haven't seen the movie you really owe it to yourself to find it (it's on YouTube) and watch it. The model is a thing of such absolute absurdity that it cannot be overstated. Those eyes. The mobile nostrils. It must be seen to be believed.
I think I'd use The Giant Claw for a Cosmic Patrol or Rocket Age scenario. Rather than trying to make the bird more serious, I would print out some stills from the movie and hand them out to the players as actual photos taken of the bird as it flies out of the interstellar void and into our solar system. I'd explain that the black and white photostats were taken from ships far out in the system and let the players marvel at the wondrous ugliness of such a magnificent space raptor.
Then the characters would become part of the force sent against the vast bird, only to learn of its anti-matter field. The creature would continue on toward the inner planets unimpeded. After that, it would be up to the characters to work out how to overcome what appears to be an absolute defense against anything they can throw at it. Let them science the hell out of it. Maybe they'll come up with a weapon to destroy it. Or they might come up with a way to drive it off. Some players might even want to work for a way to let the beast nest in peace, such that people wouldn't be in danger. I'd take my cues from what my players seemed to want to do.
10. Fiend Without a Face (1958)
Starring Marshall Thomas, Kynaston Reeves, Kim Parker, and Terence Kilburn
Plot in a Sentence: Attempting an ill-conceived experiment to benefit all of humanity, an aging professor instead creates a race of invisible brain vampires.
"You ever think about trying sleep instead of Benzedrine? You might like it."
"What was Griselle doing in the woods? Farming?"
"What the heck, I'm human! We're all human here! We're not monsters from outer space."
"No fancy atomic radiation caused these deaths!"
"You don't have to worry, Major. What I surmise, I keep to myself."
"I was able to detach my thoughts and allow them to work on their own."
"I now know that I have created a mental vampire, a fiend that needs to drain the intellect to survive and multiply."
"I believe it feeds on the radiation from your atomic plants, and that it's EVIL."
I respect Fiend Without a Face for establishing a technology that I can wrap my head around. A military research group is attempting to use atomic power (as one does) to increase the range of radar. Simple. Obviously a strategic advantage. Hell, the movie isn't even arguing that they shouldn't have been fooling around with nuclear power as is so often the case in this kind of monster flick.
No, the problem here is Professor Walgate, gentleman larcenist of atomic radiation. Charming though he may be, Walgate has apparently began hijacking the U.S. military's nuclear energy in order to fuel his experiments. What?! He's awfully insouciant about skiving off with Uncle Sam's atomic radiation. I wasn't aware that it was no more concerning than stealing cable! What a scamp.
The movie was a lot of fun, though. It's always fun to see how a film is going to depict invisible monsters. What pieces of the scenery will be made to rustle or move? Which of the cast are good at physical acting? And these little bastards are pretty unsettling. They don't just kill you. No, these little invisible buggers suck out your brain and spinal column, a properly Lovecraftian death. The final confrontation at the professor's besieged home is silly, but fun nonetheless.
I've got to go with Call of Cthulhu for this one. Set the scenario in the 1950s, pretty much just as the movie sets it up. The military has built a nuclear reactor and has been flying planes in and out of the base. The PCs can have easily have been called in by Professor Walgate to assist him in his studies.
Upon arrival, though, they should find him dead. Barbara Griselle, the professor's assistant, will greet them and tearfully explain that he died only the night before. They may also be able to coax out of her the fact that her own brother only died a couple days before that. Regardless, they should be able to stay in the professor's home (maybe introduce a housekeeper to make this offer) or at least stay in town for the funeral.
At the funeral or while talking with anyone who might know, the investigators should get the sense that something was off with the professor's death. Looking into it further, they'll be able to discover that his brain was sucked out of his skull through two small holes in the base of the skull. Worse, at least one other man died the same way prior to the professor.
From that point on, the investigation will follow a lot of the movie's beats. The PCs can uncover the professor's lab and his notes in order to learn what experiments he'd been performing and how they'd succeeded. More men and women will be killed as the investigation continues. The little fiends will attempt to dial up the reactor in order to gain more power, eventually making them visible. Then it just comes down to describing horrible, squidgy, tentacled brains attacking the small town.
Next up... The Strange Case of Doctor Rx!
P.S. Does anyone know what "sibonetics" means? The professor is supposed to be an expert, and I'm curious if its supposed to be based on something real.