In the early 20th century a village experienced a series of inexplicable murders. All the victims were young men who had been turned to stone. The perpetrator of these deaths was a being so repulsive that she transformed the onlooker using the power of her deadly stare. Much of the time the creature took the form of a beautiful and seductive woman, but during periods of the full moon she becomes a living horror, vicious and deadly. A professor has come to investigate the deaths, bringing with him his beautiful assistant whose knowledge of the Gorgon is more intimate than anyone would ever realise.
One of Terence Fisher's most undervalued films. "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
***Medusa’s sister is loose in post-Victorian Germany!*** The spirit of one of the three Gorgon sisters from Greek mythology is terrorizing a German village in the early 1900s. A doctor (Peter Cushing) seems to be in denial about the supernatural element of the mounting deaths in the last seven years, but a professor from out of town has no qualms about finding the truth (Christopher Lee). Barbara Shelley plays the doctor’s assistant while Richard Pasco is on hand as a subordinate to the professor. "The Gorgon" (1965) is cut from the same gothic horror cloth as other Hammer flicks of the era, like “Dracula, Prince of Darkness” (1966), “Frankenstein Created Woman” (1967) and “Frankenstein Must be Destroyed” (1969), as well as similar non-Hammer movies, like Corman & Coppola’s “The Terror” (1963) and “The Creeping Flesh” (1973). If you like these kinds of films, you’ll appreciate “The Gorgon,” although it’s the least of these IMHO, albeit not far off. The pace is slow as suspense mounts with various revelations. The romantic element lends human interest and it’s nice to see Cushing and Lee sorta trade typical roles. As usual with Hammer and similar flicks from the era, the colorful spooky ambiance is a top attraction. And noble redhead Barbara Shelley doesn’t hurt. The movie runs 1 hour, 23 minutes, and was shot at Bray Studios in England. GRADE: B