April 13, 2021

Amazing Animal People #6: The Vulture

Amazing Animal People trading card #6, The Vulture, 1967

On a dark and stormy night in a remote village in Cornwall, a woman decides to take a shortcut home through a church cemetery. To her horror, something claws its way out of a nearby grave and takes flight on huge wings. Later at the hospital, the woman, whose hair has turned completely white, describes the thing as having the body of a huge bird, grasping, human hands and a horrible human head.

The police discover that the coffin at the gravesite is empty. Local legend had it that the person buried there, Francis Real, had been accused of sorcery by the patriarch of the area’s most prominent family, the Strouds, and was buried alive along with a strange vulture-like pet and a chest of gold coins. Legend also had it that before dying, Real had vowed to rise again and kill off every remaining Stroud descendent.

American nuclear scientist Dr. Eric Lutens (Robert Hutton) and his wife Trudy (Diane Clare) are visiting Trudy’s uncle, Brian Stroud (Broderick Crawford) at his large estate. The police think graverobbers are to blame for the incident at the graveyard, but when Lutens hears the hospitalized woman’s story first hand, he’s not so sure.

The absence of footprints at the gravesite, and a strange feather found there, seem to confirm the woman’s story. Later, a mutilated sheep’s carcass is found high up on a cliff ledge, as if a huge bird of prey had carried it there. Lutens interviews a local scholar and antiquarian, Prof. Hans Koniglich (Akim Tamiroff), who confirms the details of the legend and agrees that there may be an extraordinary explanation for what’s happening.

Will Lutens solve the mystery of The Vulture before the curse claims the lives of the Strouds, including his beloved Trudy?

Funamimal Fact: American actor Robert Hutton was offered the lead in The Vulture while he was in London editing a film he had shot in Lisbon, Portugal. He recalled wanting very much to work with veteran Akim Tamiroff and Broderick Crawford, who was a longtime friend. But on the set, Crawford was not above messing with him:

“In the movie Brod[erick] had a cane with a wolf’s head on it, very highly polished. And I remember I had a long speech by a fireplace and he had to just sit there and listen to me go on and on. During rehearsal he played with that wolf’s head and twisted it around and made it reflect the light. Stealing the scene. And I thought, ‘Now, that’s not right, not while I’m talking -- I’ve got a long speech here!’ So just before we got to the actual take, I said, ‘Brod, are you going to play with that wolf’s head like you did in rehearsal?’ And he said [laughs], ‘No, I was just trying you out.’ He was a wonderful guy." [Interview in Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes, Tom Weaver, McFarland, 1991]


Lobby card - The Vulture, 1967
"So, how long have you been working here?"

Animal Crack-up (click on the text to see the punchline):

Why are vultures reluctant to fly on commercial airliners?

Don't miss these other Amazing Animal People:

Lota from Island of Lost Souls | Paula Dupree, Captive Wild Woman | The Mole People | Leonora the Cat Girl | The Alligator People


  1. I've never heard of this movie but now I want to see it.

    1. I caught this one years ago by accident on TV -- it wasn't in the usual Creature Features rotation when I was a kid. It's long on dialog and there aren't many scares in it, but at least the cast is interesting. There's serviceable version of it streaming on Youtube at the moment.