"Overshadowing the village of Vandorf stands the Castle Borski. From the turn of the century a monster from an ancient age of history came to live here. No living thing survived and the spectre of death hovered in waiting for her next victim."
Directed by Terence Fisher for Hammer Film Productions, The Gorgon stars Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley and Richard Pasco. Photography is by Michael Reed, the design courtesy of Bernard Robinson and the unique score is by James Bernard (he blended Soprano with a Novachord). Very much a bit off kilter in terms of classical Hammer Horror, The Gorgon sees Hammer turn to Greek Mythology for its latest instalment.
The key issue here is that 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 a such has done the film few favours over the years. 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, a film that is also one of Hammer's most visually accomplished efforts. Yes the effects of the Gorgon herself come the finale are low budgeted naffness, to which if it had been possible to never show close ups of her the film would have been greater. More so because all the prior long distance shots of her have gained maximum chill factor. She's a floaty green demon accompanied by eerie music, effectively shot in dreamy Technicolor by Michael Reed. But cest la vie, the story is such we have to have these close ups, so lets just embrace this minor itch for existing in a time before CGI and applaud its adherence to the Gothic tradition that the film faithfully captures.
Though featuring the big Hammer Horror hitters Cushing & Lee, it's Barbara Shelley who really takes the honours. Her Carla Hoffman is the axis of the movie, an emotionally conflicted character, beautiful yet sorrowful, she gets an in-depth makeover from Shelley. Further lifting the film above the average jibes bestowed on it by cruel and unfair critics. Patrick Troughton also lends some good support as Inspector Kanof, wonderfully attired in Rosemary Burrows' Gothic European costumes. There's no bad performances in truth, all the cast are delivering good work to do justice to the material. There is no, if you pardon the pun, ham in this Hammer Horror.
A wonderfully told story is given a smart technical work over within the budget restrictions. Forget any hopes of a blood laden movie, for this is not the one. But if you yearn for Gothic atmosphere or prefer a hauntingly told tale, then this is for you. 8/10
on 1 September 2010
The Gorgon [DVD]This is one of those 'out-of-the-way' Hammer productions that scored well with audiences the World over. The tale of one of the three Gorgon sisters inhabiting a castle somewhere in Europe is quite thrillingly shot. Two of the most famous names in the Horror Genre, Sir Christopher Lee and the late Peter Cushing give excellent performances amply supported by the rest of the cast which includes the much used Hammer beauty Barbara Shelly and Patrick Troughton. The setting is the village of Vandorf. A young painter falls in love with one of his models, a local girl, and both are found dead under mysterious surroundings. When the chief Inspector, played by Patrick Troughton, asks Doctor Namaroff (Peter Cushing) whether an autopsy would be performed, the cryptic reply is: "On a body that's turned to Stone?" Thus begins on of Hammer's greatest Horror Masterpieces. The village is plagued by a centuries-old mythical demon. Sir Lee, for once, is the 'good guy'. He plays Professor Meister, a friend of the young boy's father, who is called in to investigate the singular occurrences. Fans of Hammer should own a copy of the DVD. You will not regret your decision. Well acted, well set and well directed.
THE GORGON Hammer Films 1964 - Region 2 DVD
Back in the 1980s I replaced most of my collection of 8mm movies with VHS and now I am going through a same process of upgrading everything to DVD. This also gives me the excuse to revisit films which I have not seen for some time.
THE GORGON has for some reason always been one of those elusive films to obtain in R2,(Along with Curse of the Werewolf and Kiss of the Vampire), it took me ages to track down a copy of the VHS tape and although the DVD was finally released in 2010 after being suspended due to legal issues it quickly went out of circulation and has only recently been re-released.
This has always been one of my personal favourites from the Hammer Films stable, perhaps not their best film but one that has an original storyline, a great cast, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Barbara Shelley, Patrick Troughton and Richard Pasco and good special effects and make-up for the Gorgon.
The story is set in the German village of Vandorff in the early 20th. Century, where, a number of murders have been committed each victim having been petrified into a stone figure. The local police chief, has failed to apprehend the murderer and is unwilling to dig too deeply into the local belief that a legendary monster is responsible. When a another girl becomes the latest victim and her lover is arrested the father of the condemned man decides to investigate and discovers that the cause of the petrifying deaths is indeed a monster, the last of the snake-haired Gorgon sisters who haunts the local castle and turns victims to stone during the full moon.
Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are the real stars of the movie in an unusual reversal of roles with Peter Cushing as the sinister Dr Namaroff and Lee cast as the kindly Professor Meister who agrees to help prove the accused lad's innocence.
The supporting cast led by Hammer regulars Barbara Shelley and Richard Pasco give good performances, particularly Patrick Troughton as the police inspector.
The film is full of suspense and atmosphere if a little bit slow in places and is Hammer's usual offering of a good entertaining thriller with a terrific climax.
Well worth adding to your collection and an absolute must for Hammer Films addicts.
Having not seen this for many years, if not decades, I throughly enjoyed this mid 60s Hammer horror. It has the cast of casts with both Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in leading roles, although Lee is mainly used in the 2nd half of the film.
The film is directed by Hammers finest, Terence Fisher, who as far as I can tell never made a bad film. With an inimitable music score by James Bernard, and a good script this is a safe bet to buy, especially as its reletively cheap at the moment. The transfer is pretty good and the film is in widescreen. I'd certainly never seen it in widescreen before.
For me Peter Cushing dominates the film. He gives one of those effortless performances, where you think, well hes not doing very much really, but he is..... In the labatory, in court, just every scene hes in. Its a riveting performance as always!
On the downside, well not much really, I thought Christopher Lee was slightly miscast, and there are no extras to speak of.
on 18 January 2012
The colours in the Hammer films are rich and deep, no wishy washy pale colours here, they all have this glorious glow to them. A huge fan, this is one that got away from me, it was on a late night TV and found it captivating, the only one who was missing was Vincent Price, then we would have had the three masters who dominated the screens.
Great story line with a twist, " The Gorgon " is a wonderful piece of film, not forgetting the special FX at that time compared to today were limited, even so, personally I thought it was great, and have watched it more than once.
A must have to all Hammer film buffs
'The Gorgon' inspired both fear, fascination and fantasy in us as children. I remember vividly watching this film, as my father allowed us up late to see such horror movies (because we loved them) during the 60s. Probably one of the greatest Hammer horror movies, because unlike the Draculas, Frankinstein Monsters etc., this was a story based upon a legend of a woman who only had to look upon her victims to destroy them! I can still recall anticipating the full viewing of the woman with snakes in her hair which for the most part in the movie you only get to see from a distance or in the shadows until the end, but it's well worth the wait!
This movie has been BEAUTIFULLY re-mastered - along with its original Trailer - gorgeous - and at this bargain price - you won't be able to resist to take a look upon 'The Gorgon' - if you dare!!
(You may be distracted somewhat by all the handsome male eye-candy; including many familiar faces looking at their best, including; Christopher Lee, who despite being made up to look much older, still looks 'fit'! Peter Cushing - looking at his most attractive with those burns and facial hair. Richard Pasco, who gives an award-winning performance in the lead role, Alister Williamson, Patrick Troughton and Redmond Phillips!)
on 25 March 2014
When his father Professor Jules Heitz and brother Bruno die under mysterious circumstances, Paul Heitz travels to a small town to determine what is going on.
It's the early 1900s and he finds villagers who are wary of strangers and apparently live in fear, particularly when there is a full moon.
He hears of the legend of Megaera, a Gorgon so hideous that to look at her will turn you to stone.
Of particular interest to him are Dr. Namaroff and his attractive assistant Carla Hoffman.
Namaroff is obviously hiding something and is very possessive of Carla, who suffers from blackouts and memory loss....
It's one of those typical Hammer movies that comes on TV late at night and you just cannot help but watch the absurdity of it all.
All the familiar faces are here, Cushing, Lee, Matte Paintings, but Hammer movies never fail to entertain, even if they do fail to shock.
Not unlike Nosferatu, we have one man who is an outcast in a village, which hides a secret. The secret is, it's Medusa's not so famous sibling, who can turn a man to stone with her red eyes and awful hair.
The effects are funny in a Hammer way, but Lee and Cushing put a bit of class into the proceedings.
Not as good as the Dracula films, but has a little kookiness to it all.
This is possibly one of the least known of the Hammer Horror collection, hence how scarce it is to find these days. I have a soft spot for it though because it was one of the first horror films I ever saw (way back when), and seeing it again in recent times I think it's still an atmospheric offering. If you're expecting lashings of blood and gore, and classy special effects, then don't even bother as you'll be disappointed. The pace is slow, the special effects are kiddies' play-group standard, but some scenes I would argue are on a par with any much more respected low-budget very off-beat horror. A remote German village is periodically haunted by a she-monster from ancient times. Anyone who has the misfortune to meet her will be turned into stone. Old-hands Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are determined to track her down, and the spectacularly beautiful Barbara Shelley plays her dual role with great style.
The opening sequence, plus the scene where one man hears the Gorgon singing during the night and foolishly sets off through the forest (during a full moon and all!) to find her, have a very strong dark fairy tale feel to them. If you want a bit of vintage Hammer Horror with a difference then this is just the job.
The Gorgon has always troubled fans of Hammer Horror films. On the one hand it has some great performances (particularly from Barbara Shelley and Peter Cushing), set design and direction. On the other it is sorely let down by poor 'special' effects.
If you're unfamiliar with the film it is about a town that is resident to the last remaining Gorgon (of 'Madusa' fame) called Magera. She strikes at night under a full moon, and as per Hammer legend, turns anyone who meets her gaze into stone. As you'd expect from a Terence Fisher directed Hammer film it's got that great haunted gothic feel throughout. Also we get the pairing of the great Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, with a rare 'good guy' role for Lee. I felt Christopher Lee's performance was a little too exaggerated... not 'hammed' up as it were, but perhaps just too intense for some scenes, Cushing is brilliant however. Barbara Shelley steals the film with her performance of the troubled as Carla (who is actually Magera, The Gorgon, but doesn't know it). Richard Pasco's performance was passable as the lead.
However the flaw with The Gorgon was their decision not to use Barbara Shelley when she turns into The Gorgon, but an entirely different 'older' actress (presumably to give the effect of becoming 'ugly'). Then made worse by very bad makeup and some of the worst 'snake' special effects you're likely to see. Obviously Hammer had a tight budget, but films like The Reptile or Plague of Zombie's show what can be done on a shoe string. What starts as a really strong film, ends on a bit of a damp squib.
However I feel for the most part The Gorgon is a good Hammer film with some fine performances. It's let down at the end, but if you love the old gothic Hammer's this is worth checking out.
This Columbia release has a very good picture, but just a 'trailer' in the extra's
on 16 August 2014
Utilising the set design to it's best limited advantage, this is Hammer autumnal in some of Hammers finest hues, thanks to Terence Fisher's telling use of browns, vivid reds & dead leaves in abundance. We even get small areas of water throughout the film, sudden rainfall & antiquated mirrors, pillars & tight spaces filled with warm contrasts. Yet there is a coldness of the masonry bearing down, giving all in the confining arena that gorgonic suggestiveness. Though the plot has a fair few bouts of chat, there are more than the usual measure of amusing directness from a Christopher Lee who is playing slightly broader than he often does and for all that, is damnably likeable. Indeed, he maybe similar to the chap he played in Horror Express with disparaging remarks & a forthright demeanour as fuel to carry the film to it's conclusion...he is almost a Cushing type in an admixture with a less serious Duc de Richleau. Cushing on the other hand is touching upon some of his less pleasant Baron Frankenstein characteristics, and appears to run his small asylum as he does his love-life, at knife-point.
The film looks lovely, quality is very good and in an aspect that seems to do it sufficient justice at 1.85, the sound of the occasional bursting score is solid, with strings and brassy moments making up the Hammery whole. The dvd comes with a fine 24 page booklet that as ever, outlines much detail from Marcus Hearn.
The only marginal drawbacks of course are well known. There is the hair of the gorgon, the fake head shots and the close-ups of the make-up, which leave a lot to be desired. But regardless, this does not remove the swift 79 or so minutes redolent of those heady days when Hammer looked like nothing else out there until compared with a few of the Corman Poe's. This was in the days when the composition was warm rather than the more overlit seventies, the scenery was just touched upon rather than dwelt upon & perspective marred, locales were used sparingly to best, if hurried, advantage of all concerned. Add to this the solid actors of Cushing, Lee, Troughton, Pasco and the elegant Shelley this will stay in the memory for sometime. Though scarcely the scariest thing you will see, nor heaving with bosom or bloodshed, this warm, tightly played piece of dark fantasy will recall to mind the epitome of what came to be seen as the hammer gothic. Perhaps it could have used a tad more script, more time to develop or even less lighting of the limited effects, but every minute appeals to the minds-eye...