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“The Vulture,” Mothman & Owlman

Directed, produced and written by Lawrence Huntington, The Vulture is a very curious and downright weird movie that surfaced in 1967. It was produced by Homeric Films, Iliad Films, and Film Financial C. Ltd., and distributed by Paramount. The movie is one of a deeply strange kind. It’s also a movie that contains more than a few nods in the direction of the infamous Mothmman of Point Pleasant, West Virginia – and of England’s equally infamous beast that surfaced almost a decade later, in 1976. Its name: Owlman. The movie stars Robert Hutton, Broderick Crawford and Diane Clare – the latter, in the previous year, having had a starring role in Hammer Film Productions, The Plague of the Zombies – a far more superior production.

What is particularly interesting about The Vulture is that it eerily parallels certain portions of the sagas of both Mothman and Owlman – even though the latter didn’t surface until 1976, nine years after The Vulture hit the big screens. The movie begins with a woman named Ellen West – played by Annette Carroll. While in a graveyard in the English county of Cornwall late one night, West encounters a hideous beast that is half-man and half-black-colored bird, which rises up from one of the old stones. It’s the grave of one Francis Real, a 1700s-era sailor who is an integral part of the story and who was buried with the remains of a large, terrible bird. West is plunged into a state of hysteria as the beast takes to the skies and amid a loud beating of wings.

Notably, it was in the vicinity of an old graveyard – at Mawnan Old Church, in Cornwall – that sightings of the legendary Owlman (a human-like bird-thing) surfaced in 1976, and which were chronicled in the pages of Jon Downes’ 2006 book, The Owlman and Others. So, we have similarities between a fictional Cornwall-based flying monster, and a reportedly real on in Cornwall – and both in and around graveyards. And both human-like, too.

Moving on, after her encounter with the vulture-like beast in the local graveyard, Ellen West descends even deeper into a state of fear: her hair turns white and she is admitted to hospital. It’s while she’s in the hospital – and while she is left all alone – that a Man in Black-style character enters the room. Pale-skinned, he is wearing an old, black fedora-like hat, a white shirt, a skinny black tie, and a long black trenchcoat. He looms over West and says: “You saw something you shouldn’t have.” In no uncertain terms, the MIB warns her to leave matters well alone.

As the story becomes more and more ominous there are other developments: a sheep is found savagely mutilated. Descendants of the Real family are killed in violent fashion, after being hauled into the skies by the bird man. Much is made of the violent reactions of a couple of German Shepherd dogs that are on the trail of the man-bird. This too has it real-world parallels: in their books The Mothman Prophecies and The Silver Bridge, John Keel and Gray Barker reveal the unfortunate saga of Bandit, a German Shepherd who mysteriously vanished when Mothman mania was at its height, and never to be seen again.

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Meanwhile, the Man in Black turns up once more, warning that, “Nothing good will come of it, I warn you.” He is then found to be none other than the Sexton of the old church – although his appearance is strikingly similar to that of the classic MIB.

For those who may want to watch The Vulture, I won’t give away the bulk of the plot, but I will say that if you have seen the 1958 movie The Fly (and its 1986 remake), you may get an idea of how the bird-man came to be. It’s all down to “nuclear transmutation,” as if that explains anything when it comes to creating a bird-man! The special-effects are not great (some are laughable), but if you like old 1960s-era horror movies, you may find it entertaining.

In past articles here at Mysterious Universe, I focused on three other fictional productions – two TV shows and one movie – that also had close parallels to what was afoot in the Mothman controversy, and attendant puzzles such as animal deaths and the Men in Black. They were The Invaders, The Avengers, and The Blood Beast Terror. Fiction imitating fact? Fact surfacing from the world of fantasy? Who knows?

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  • eddi_the_Bad_Hombre

    An oldie I missed. Thank you. It’s amazing how many odd little films like this are so rich in Fortean lore. And how frequently it turns out the producers had no idea that there were real-world parallels to their fiction.

  • St Kos

    I haven’t seen the Vulture in years… I’ll have to see if I can scare up a copy.

    I did not realize The Owlman was an actual Fortean creature. You may want to check out “Lord of Tears”, an Owlman related movie. It was available on one of the more popular streaming sites in the States. It wasn’t what I expected going in, but was a very satisfying movie. It was produced by the same company that did the You Tube videos of Owlman (a person in costume) scaring the heck out of unsuspecting people in old buildings.