Welcome back to my Dark Corner of this Sick World. ‘Oh no’ 1967’s The Vulture opens with a woman taking a shortcut through a graveyard and getting a scare from the oscillating tombstone of Francis Real. But worse is to come. What was that? ‘An enormous black bird like a vulture with a dreadful human head’ This ties with the history of Francis Real, buried alive 200 years ago, alongside his pet vulture. ‘The whole story is quite plausible then’ The Stroud family, who did the burying, still live in the area, including Trudy who suggests they consult her husband.
‘What does your husband do, Mrs Lutens?’ ‘He’s a nuclear scientist in service to the American Government’ Not quite sure how that’s relevant but Dr Lutens is played by Dark Corners regular Robert Hutton and his interest is piqued by the discovery of a dead sheep at the top of a cliff. ‘I don’t like the look of this Trudy, not one bit’ He delves into the history of Francis Real. ‘He could have been at one time or another on Easter island’ So? ‘Their god there was Manutera, half-man, half-bird’ That seems like a jump from dead sheep, but
he find more evidence at the grave. A feather! Well I’ve seen enough, that woman’s right. ‘An enormous black bird like a vulture with a awful human head’ She says that a lot ‘Big black
the churchyard – can you answer that?’ Because large black birds are completely unknown in churchyards. ‘This is all starting to add up’ To what? ‘The legendary god of Easter Island, half-man, half-bird’ Genuinely, 2 feathers and a dead sheep and that’s his take, but what makes the character is his angry dismissal of anyone with the temerity not to believe his theory that a half man half vulture from easter island is targeting his wife’s family. ‘Your Uncle Brian is either stupid or stubborn’ Of course they should believe him, and for one reason. ‘I can assure you I
know that I’m talking about, I’m on the experimental staff of the atomic energy commission’ Barely a day goes by in the commission without someone turning into a bird. ‘What has that got to do with what happened here’ This is one of many B Movie in which ‘scientist’ is used as a generic term for expert in everything, but I don’t think we’ve previously encountered one with this level of arrogance. ‘You’ve got an answer to that too I suppose. Though I doubt very much it’s right’ Back to the plot. ‘At the back of my mind is a
growing suspicion that someone carried out a scientific experiment’ To resurrect a 200 year old vulture man. How? ‘By nuclear transmission, if you’ve any idea what that means’ You probably don’t, you’re not a scientist. But not all the evidence is on his side. A coin found in a nearby field, suggests a simple grave robbery. ‘It’s my guess we won’t find anything’ Your 18th gold coin could have come from anywhere, not like my feather, that was hard evidence. ‘What does it mean?’ ‘That I was right about the experiment, Trudy, there’s no longer any doubt’ About what? ‘Some
unknown scientific brain has produced a monstrous creature’ Smoothly back peddling from his Easter Island God theory, but how was this done? ‘The changing of atoms of one element into those of another by suitable nuclear reactions’ Yeah, let’s check that with an actual scientist; Dad can atoms of one element be turned into those of another. ‘Yes, by some suitable nuclear reaction that is possible.’ Well that’s left me looking foolish, but weirdly the film seems to drop that idea literally seconds later. ‘A living person has been transferred through the ether and put into the grave of Francis
Real’ Nothing to do with transforming elements, what we’re talking about is The Fly. An as yet unknown scientist tries to switch places with the corpse of Francis Real for reasons that, I may as well break the news to you now, the film never establishes, but… ‘Whoever made this experiment failed to take into account the vulture that was buried with Real’ so in the transfer he became half vulture, also absorbing Real’s hatred of the Stroud family. ‘From the grave has come this threat to wipe out every member of your family’ And that quest for vengeance now
strikes. Oh boy. Little is Left of Trudy’s Uncle, ‘Is it him?’ ‘Must be.’ as a scientist, I’m able to identify arms at a great distance. Lutens talks to the police. ‘The dead body of a man is found in a cliff and that’s your only answer huh?’ My story maybe nonsense but I’d like to see you do better. Besides, I’m a scientist. ‘This has nothing to do with science at all, it’s strictly a matter of theft.’ That is a good point; if this was supernatural, you’d go with it. It’s this perplexing insistence that it’s all science.
‘The only answer is a scientific one and I’ve already given it to you’ Combined with Lutens’ gut-wrenching attitude that people should believe him, not because he has evidence, his evidence is… ‘This’ but because he’s a scientist and other scientists have been right about other things so he must be right about this. ‘You know, science has advanced in recent years’ ‘but not to the extent you are asking people to believe.’ We now acknowledge the existence man-headed vultures and if you don’t believe him you’re anti-science. ‘The frightening part s your refusal to believe me’ probably one of
those religious nuts. ‘I’ve every respect for science Trudy but there’s such a thing as taking it too far’ I know this isn’t in the spirit of a film review but seeing someone consistently misrepresenting science and being smug about it, is making me a little angry. ‘That’s the understatement of all time’ Anyway, Trudy is next to be taken, leaving only one clue. Well this clearly the indicates the existence of some half-man half-handkerchief. Is there anyway of showing the creature without it being laughable. No. With the half man half vulture dead, they head for home. ‘ ‘I
don’t think I could ever go beck.’ ‘Of course you can. A year from now you’ll have forgotten the whole thing’ My scientific expertise tells me that this is the sort of trauma people get over very quickly. ‘For once you people are right’ If you’re a subscriber then you have often heard me rant about how much I hate heroes but, come on, you gotta give me this guy. ‘The whole thing was a disaster.’ Thanks for watching. I feel like I have short-changed this film, it’s so much worse than I can satisfactorily put across, please join us
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