The Vulture 1967 REVIEW

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The Vulture 1967 is a science fiction pulp film set in Cornwall with a weak plot and a half-man, half-bird creature, but it’s still fun, writes TERRY SHERWOOD

The Vulture 1967

TITLE: The Vulture
DIRECTOR: Lawrence Huntington
CAST: Robert Hutton, Diane Clare, Akim Tamiroff and Broderick Crawford

Review of The Vulture 1967

It’s so easy to slam films of yesteryear by judging them by today. The Vulture 1967 invites this type of reception and rightly so as the story leaves a lot to be desired. The acting and dialogue make people cringe, yet they miss the point. 

A film like The Vulture 1967 has a charm of the naivety of locations other than some technical group of huge monitors and actors spouting tech babble. There is a lab with skeletons at their stations, however, they don’t speak much. 

Keep Watching The Skies

This is a pure science fiction pulp with the now ludicrous production values of some of the best Doctor Who television series which at the same time for some odd reason don’t get slammed. 

The Vulture 1967 features all the trapping of lovely Cornwall. You get farmhouses, small lanes, and villages all with that wonderful sound effect of clipping footfalls on stone no matter what the surface. 

The proper mystery begins during a storm with a woman Ellen West (Annette Carell) seeing a grave marker begin to move back and forth, then a crypt expelled a coffin after which we hear the sound effects and odd laughing plus see her terrified face. 

Later in the hospital scene she told the police and doctors that she has seen a half-man, half-bird creature with a horrible human face fly over her and she will never forget it. In fact, for emphasis, she says the same lines almost three times in the film. 

The Three Feathers

The film then proceeds to hint at murders with bloody arms showing up on cliff sides with a single dark feather as a clue.

Of course, because this had to be sold to a US market you had to have an American as the hero. You get that in the form of Dr Eric Lutens (Robert Hutton), who lives in the village with his English wife Trudy (Diane Clare), who happens to be an expert on atomic energy. 

The police superintendent Wendell (Keith McConnell), along with Edward Stroud (Gordon Sterne) of a preeminent village family, uncover the back story. That fact is buried deep in village folklore and involves ancient gods, murders and the borrowing of the transport device idea from The Fly 1958 all in the twisted tale of revenge. 

Academy Award winners Broderick Crawford and Akim Tamiroff appear in prominent roles to try to add some box-office appeal to the film as the mystery deepens. Both actors had better days, but a paycheque is a paycheque. 

The Vulture 1967

Mrs Peel, We’re Needed

The script was based on an original story by Lawrence Huntington who also directed and co-produced. 

The story looks cobbled together using elements from various sources like the teleportation device. 

Additionally, the creature that you do see eventually is perhaps influenced by a 1967 episode of The Avengers called The Winged Avenger. In that segment, a bird-like comic book character looking like what is seen in the picture kills people in revenge and for money. 

The Vulture 1967 has actors trying to make it realistic, however, the plot gets in the way and some continuity moments in editing. The major drawback is the fact you do not have a very effective creature, so you must do the buildup with other murders and red herring characters like the superbly played church sexton Melcher (Edward Caddrick).

Birdy Num Num

The script also has some in-jokes such as the character names of Melchor, which could reference prolific science fiction author and film director Ib Melchior. The Stroud family of the film shares the same last name as the famed, egotistical convicted American murderer Robert Stroud, who studied birds and became known popularly as the ‘Birdman Of Alcatraz’. Burt Lancaster played Stroud in a sanitized fictional account of his life in 1962. 

The version of The Vulture 1967 I watched recently was the supposedly uncut version in colour, which is how it was originally filmed. In my youth, I had viewed the black-and-white version. Remarkably the talon still looks the same. The film gets talky in bits and drags in the middle portion but overall it’s simple fun, not deep, with some very nice Cornwall locations and seascapes.

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