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VINE VOICEon 12 January 2016
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
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"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
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on 21 July 2015
Classic Hammer Horror film, which I've been after on dvd for a few years now
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VINE VOICEon 23 October 2003
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.
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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
Recommended
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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.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 January 2012
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.
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on 5 November 2010
1964's The Gorgon is one of the less popular Hammer horrors. On the surface, it seems to have a lot going for it, re-teaming director Terence Fisher and actors Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee for the final time under the Hammer banner, and featuring a story and script that originated with John `The Plague of the Zombies' Gilling. It is a typically handsome Bray studios production, is quite eerie in parts, and features a completely original monster (at least in the realm of horror films), with the eponymous `gorgon' of the title actually a snake-headed she-beast from Greek mythology. However, despite its pedigree, the film isn't actually all that involving and for a long time doesn't really seem to be going anywhere. The first half of the film is structured around the `gorgonizing' (or turning into stone) of three members of the same family, one after another, which becomes very repetitive, whilst the central romantic mystery is heading in so obvious a direction that it lacks any real point. Also, like Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1965) and Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), this is one of those Hammer films that mostly fail to disguise their budgetary limitations, with the use of outdoor locations that have unmistakeably been seen in about a dozen other movies.
This is one of my least favourite of the Lee / Cushing screen teamings. Presumably to shake up public perception of their by-now well established horror personas, both actors are cast against type in parts that don't make the most of their talents. Lee gets to play one of his very rare Hammer heroes, but unlike the tailor-made leading role he took in The Devil Rides Out (1967), the part of the blustering, no-nonsense academic he plays here was clearly written for a much older actor (Lee is very obviously made up under a heavy grey wig and moustache). Cushing, meanwhile, is saddled with a sketchier character than usual, a villainous scientist-with-a-secret who has none of the charm or charisma of his more famous Baron Frankenstein.
There are some grace notes; the music is very accomplished, the set design is generally up to standard, and the always-good-value Barbara Shelley gives the best performance in the film even as she struggles with the thankless leading female part. But there are more enjoyable Hammer horror movies than this one, which lacks the vim of the firm's earliest classics, and the energy of Fisher's later `second wind' efforts like the aforementioned The Devil Rides Out or Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969). The Gorgon was made at Bray almost simultaneously with Freddie Francis' equally disappointing The Evil of Frankenstein, and it seems a shame that the two directors weren't assigned each other's projects; Fisher's involvement would have gone a long way towards keeping the Frankenstein series on the rails, whilst Francis, whose films as a director were often more inventive than Fisher's when it came to camerawork and special effects, might have been able to liven The Gorgon up a bit. Despite any negative remarks available to read here, most Hammer fanatics will buy this DVD anyway, as will I, but if you are merely dipping your toe in the Hammer waters, The Gorgon certainly isn't on the must-see list.
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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.
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VINE VOICEon 17 October 2011
'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!)
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