The Gorgon (1964 United Kingdom)

The Gorgon should be viewed more as a doomed love story featuring a legendary horror character. To call this a horror film is just wrong, and marketing it as such has done the movie few favours over the years. Director Terence Fisher always thought of The Gorgon as one of his best films, and he was right to do so for it’s a hauntingly beautiful piece of work. Definitely one of Hammer’s most visually accomplished efforts. And if anyone dares laugh at the special effects they will be turned to stone! And if you are a connoisseur of facial hair, this one’s for you, Grandma. There are plenty of hairy men on display, frowning impressively.

Deep in Transylvania in the village of Vandorf, near the forbidding Castle Borski, villagers still turn to stone. The instruments of terror, however, are not a large jar of calcium tablets and a funnel, but the hideous Magera, the dreaded gorgon with hair like writhing snakes and a gaze that can petrify those unwise enough to look upon her. When Professor Jules Heitz’s son, an artist staying in the village, is found hanging from a tree branch, the professor arrives to clear the boy’s name. His son had been accused of killing a village lass whose autopsy was made difficult because…well, she’d hardened. It’s not long before Professor Heitz is hardened, too, but not before he’s sent a telegram to Professor Karl Meister (Christopher Lee) at Leipzig University asking for help. The viewer hopes he will too. Will he? Of course he will. He’s nice.

Soon Professor Heitz’s remaining son, Paul (Richard Pasco) is in Vandorf. Alas, all does not go well for anyone. When Meister himself finally arrives and meets the intense and obviously conflicted Dr. Namaroff (Peter Cushing), we know secrets will be discovered and terror faced with courage. Science will learn there’s more to life than we can imagine in heaven or in hell…The Gorgon is filled with lush colour, creepy sets and the kind of straight-faced acting that so many fine British actors with precise enunciation can bring to nonsense. Among the great enunciators in this motion picture is Barbara Shelley–who plays Carla Hoffman, Dr. Namaroff’s assistant. Carla, like the actress who portrays her, is tall, cultured and elegant. The more we see of Carla and Dr. Namaroff, the more we realize there is a complex relationship trying to move beyond the confines of Transylvanian science.

At last Professor Meister ventures into the stone hulk of Castle Borski. He will encounter what legends say is true: the hideous secret of the woman whose hair hisses. There’s a real sense of unease running through this film. The music further adds to the atmosphere. Megaera’s eerie but beautiful call is memorable long after the movie is over. There’s just something mesmerizing about it. I must also give a special mention to Richard Pasco, he turns in a passionately believable performance as the twice bereaved Paul. He’s an emotional guy. Whereas Peter Cushing’s Namaroff keeps his feelings in, Paul lets them all hang out. Over all this is a winner from the legendary house of horror, with a uniquely downbeat ending. James Bernard’s high pitched score, the lighting, the intimate sets, and strong cinematography are some of the best you’ll find in a Hammer production…its dignified. 🙂

Advertisements

Comments

  1. Dignified indeed! I’ll have to add this one to my to-watch list, thanks for sharing. :mrgreen:

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: