PHORORHACOS - MYSTERIOUS ISLAND - 1961
Jules Verne 1874 novel "The Mysterious Island" was, for the most part, a basic island adventure story, lacking any major fantastical elements, beyond the presence of Captain Nemo from "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea". And yet, almost every movie based on the novel has almost always incorporated monster characters and elements into their versions.
The 1961 film "Mysterious Island" may not have been the first of these adaptations to do so, but it is certainly the best remembered - largely thanks to the masterful stop-motion effects of Ray Harryhausen.
And to be fair, the film does find a very logical excuse to throw in the monsters on the titular island. In this case, animals enlarged into giants through scientific methods, by a now older and wiser Captain Nemo, in hopes to end the causes of war (like hunger and strife), instead of just the weapons and soldiers of it.
Early in pre-production, Ray Harryhausen and his producing partner Charles H. Schneer, wanted to populate the film's island with prehistoric animals, both real and fictional alike, as in the case of a gigantic carnivorous plant. All but two of these primordial creatures were ultimately dropped from the final version for the aforementioned giant animals.
The prehistoric fauna that did remain however, was a giant ammonite squid, and the flightless, predatory bird known as a Phororhacos, which once roamed ancient South America.
Within the context of the movie, it's unknown wither the Phororhacos is indeed a prehistoric hold-over, or just a mutant wild fowl that happens to shares the Phororhacos' appearance. Never-the-less, the large bird attacks the film's leading castaways, before succumbing to a sniper's bullet, later revealed to be shot by Captain Nemo.
A much larger, almost Kong-sized version (descendent?) of the Phororhacos appeared in the 2007 comic spin-off "Back To Mysterious Island", published by Bluewaters Productions, for their Ray Harryhausen Presents line of books.
There was also a straight comic book adaptation of the original film, done back in 1961, by Dell Publishing Co. However, it appears that Phororhacos was not included into the book's main artwork and story, outside some black-and-white publicity stills.
Images and text by Raf C. Gonzalez, visit his deviantart page !