The Gorgon (1964)
Probably one of the most underrated films on The House That Dripped Blood’s bookcase, Hammer Films’ The Gorgon combines the fabulous directing talent of Terence Fisher with Hammer’s two juggernauts, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. With such a triple threat, you may think that you could not go wrong with this film - and you would be dead on balls accurate.
This is my first Medusa film, and it satisfied my curiosity. The film begins with a historical-ish village having a rather unusual nocturnal nuisance. Namely, several of their residents have been petrified. Rumors spread that a modern-day Medusa is at the helm. But who is this Medusa and how can someone who can never be seen be destroyed? In enter Lee and Cushing to unravel this very mystery. The plot is fun, never takes itself too seriously, and when the credits roll, the viewers are left feeling satisfied. Even a testy reanimated corpse such as myself could not find any flaws.
Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing carried the movie with their extraordinary flair for all things bloody and icky. However, I believe I also must point out the acting ability of some of Hammer’s more minor players. I’m talking mostly about Barbara Shelley here. Hammer girls are stereotypically picked to be in the films because of their huge… er… assets, and generally have no acting skills whatsoever. Not only was Barbara Shelley very convincing in her role as the main female lead, she was a pure pleasure to watch. Kudos to her.
Now let me explain why I would kick my inflatable Frankenstein out of my bed for Terence Fisher in a tell-tale-heartbeat. This man’s vision for horror is no less than extraordinary which is shown in full beat in The Gorgon. This movie is capable of being slow moving, yet riveting. This is a very difficult balance to achieve, but Terence Fisher did it expertly. There are no “jump out at ya" scares, and your heart is not likely to develop an arrhythmia while watching this movie. Instead, it has quite a House of Wax feel to it as it plods along in a zombie-creepiness fashion peaking at the film’s climax. When the final credits roll, your eyes have started to expulse bloody discharge from 90 minutes of non-blinking and you are ready to start the film all over again.
I do feel I have to mention one small issue with this film. For one reason or another, Lee decided to spend the film dressed up like Albert Einstein. This is very important for anyone of the weak of heart as it is very possible to lapse into a laughter induced coronary. We at Classic Horror recommend viewing the film in close proximity to an aspirin bottle and multiple antioxidants. Thank You.
The Gorgon, though somewhat obscure in the land of Hammer Horror, deserves to be in the top 20 Hammer Films list with such classics such as Horror of Dracula, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and Dick Barton Strikes Back (I’m kidding! Horror of Dracula is in the top 10). A creepy, fun thriller, The Gorgon pleases from opening titles to closing credits. Recommended for all classic horror fans, people with a passing interest in horror, and people with extremely unmanageable hair, The Gorgon could just end up as one of your favorite creepy classics.