Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Gorgon (1964)

Ask a horror fan who Terence Fisher is, and the answer will probably be "That guy who did a bunch of Hammer movies." Granted, he did plenty of work outside of the horror genre (including "A Song for Tomorrow", "Distant Trumpet" and episodes of "The Adventures of Robin Hood"), he's mostly known for directing some very notable horror films for Hammer, including "The Horror of Dracula", "The Curse of Frankenstein", "The Hound of the Baskervilles" among them. He also did some non-franchise work, including "The Stranglers of Bombay", "House of Fright" and this 1964 feature, "The Gorgon."

In a small English village, people are dying in the most odd of circumstances-they are turning into stone. Well, Professor Jules Heitz (Michael Goodliffe) has come to town to clear the name of his dead son, and Dr. Namaroff (Peter Cushing) may know a bit too much about what's going on. Well, it turns out that people are turning into stone due to a mythological, snake-haired creature named Megaera (Prudence Hyman - *snicker*) aka. The Gorgon.

A rare example of Hammer not using one of the old Universal horror monsters for a change, "The Gorgon" is still pretty much what one would expect from a Hammer film-Gothic atmosphere, strong performances (Hammer always managed to get those in their movies), a fun score from James Bernard, and all the requisite Hammer vets (Cushing, Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, etc.) all figure into the movie-and really, that's what makes these movies so great. The direction is top notch, and serves as a fine example of how the director was a master of capturing a creepy atmosphere. It also helps that while the movie is a bit slow at times, it's never really boring, and actually keeps you wondering what will happen next. Also, it cracks me up to no end that the term for being turned to stone by the creature is "Gorgonized."

If the movie does run into any problems, it's that the creature itself really isn't all that interesting or creepy. I'm sorry, but the make up job for The Gorgon is just rather poor, and just made me think "I waited all this time, and this is all I get?"

So while it's not Fisher's finest moment, "The Gorgon" is still a must see for fans of British Horror and Hammer in general. Oh, and I'm going to try and add "Gorgonized" into my vocabulary more often.

Rating: 8/10

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