Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Gorgon

I started this Halloween list by crowding in some Hammer Films. I am generally a fan, when in the right mood, of their interpretations of my preferred Universal filmed monsters. Occasionally, Hammer took a step away from the traditional Dracula and Frankenstein to feature some lesser known critters. Hence, we have The Gorgon here.

If you are not familiar, a Gorgon is a snake headed creature who will turn you to stone if you look at her. Think Medusa. You should think too much about the Gorgon for this film, though. The wig of rubber snakes is laughably pathetic. At least the powers that be knew it. Every effort I made to keep her in the shadows, to imply rather than show directly. It is quite effective, all things considered. But make no mistake--the gorgon is the worst aspect of the film.

One interesting touch is that victims do not automatically turn to stone. The process takes about an hour or so. Characters have time to further the plot with exposition and emote about the tragedy of their fate. At least that appears to be the main purpose. The Gorgon herself is going after the members of a certain family in some streak of revenge. Peter Cushing, as the town doctor, os altering the death certificates in order to hide her rampage.

Cushing is playing the villain to Christopher Lee’s good guy professor, who isa friend an protector of the family. The interplay between these two is always great, but it isstrange that Lee does ot show up until halfway through the film in order to play the hero. It violates conventional wisdom is have the hero come in so late and it did bug me. Though not as much as the goofy looking Gorgon.

Those two strikes take The Gorgon down a couple pegs. I thought it was entertaining in spite of some flaws, but not a classic. Hammer definitely did traditional Universal monster much better.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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