The crucial clue to understanding the work of director Terence Fisher is to note that his directing hero was not one of the 'usual suspects' for a horror director, like Lang or Hitchcock, but Frank Borzage, the 30's director of tender, fragile romances like 'Moonrise' and 'A Farewell To Arms'. And as he grew more confident and independent in his work for Hammer films, Fisher's most personal work smuggled Borzagian romance past his producers in horror guise. Forget the usual critical cliche about his work: that it presents rigidly defined black-and-white battles <more>
between Good and Evil.This only applies to a handful of his pictures, usually from the earlier part of his Hammer career. In Fisher's mature work, the lines between good and evil are often more ambiguous than in many of the more modernist horrors that came after him e.g.'The Exorcist' and 'Halloween' . And his most heartfelt work - 'Curse Of The Werewolf','Phantom Of The Opera','Frankenstein Created Woman'and the film discussed here, is a sequence of tragic love stories. Which brings us to 'The Gorgon', one of the most romantic but also the bleakest of these love stories. All the key characters in the film are driven by the most desperate love: the pregnant Sascha in the opening scenes, Professor Heitz mourning and defending a lost son, Carla and Paul in their foredoomed affair, Namaroff oppressing Carla and torturing himself with the love she can never reciprocate, Ratoff who might at first seem a token thug worshipping Carla as devoutly as is master does, even Christopher Lee's celibate Meister has a father's anxious protectiveness towards Paul. But in the bleak world which cameraman Michael Reed depicts throughout in grim blues and greys, there is no reward for such devotion but the stony isolation of death. The film, however, is tragic rather than merely nihilistic, for the characters are haunted throughout by the thought that their love might somehow win them a place in some better world somewhere else. This makes Carla's parting from Paul in the castle scene all the more poignant: haven't we all known a moment such as she knows then, when we face the fact that the door to salvation was open to us as recently as a couple of minutes ago, but we looked away at the wrong moment and the breeze blew it shut? That's why this, like all Fisher's best films, is such a treasurable work. It's not about shock effects, but about the beauty and sadness of being alive. It stands as the bleakest of all Gorgon myths, bleaker by far than the Greek originals, for it portrays a whole world whose fate is to turn to stone.
A key part of the atmosphere of the film, is the brilliant orchestral score. It's almost a character in itself along side the set and set decoration. Perhaps if there was more writing and less repetition in the musical material but that is surely a budget problem I would like it even better. Superb just he same.I remember watching this film with my sister maybe 35 years ago and it really did give us chills up and down the spine. Still does. Great film. Although some have criticized the make up job on the Gorgon I think it's very effective. Very nice touch to see the reflection of <more>
the monster in the pool of water. I really like the snakes moving in the hair, and I wait for that moment, each time I see this movie.The weakest spot in the movie is the character that Peter Cushing plays. There doesn't really seem to be a compelling reason why he holds back so much information. His research into the Gorgon phenomena and his romantic interest in the female assistant who turns into the Gorgon is not developed enough. This character is a bit of a cypher, despite Cushing great horror acting ability.It is a pessimistic and very sad movie since, the male and female leads all die a fairly tortured death. It's one of the best of the Hammer movies, no question. A one of a kind, and comes from the heart.I have named the sets to the Hammer movies, "Hammer Hotel", since the same set seems to appear in different guises quite a few times. I believe the castle in "Gorgon", is the same castle as in "The Horror of Dracula". Great set, none the less.One of the Hammer horror films goofs I have noticed is where you can see the set number listed on the riser. The camera shot too low. Funny. It may be from the "Gorgon" or the "Reptile". I think it's the "Gorgon".Doug Toronto
Still creepy, after all these years... (by poe426)
Notable for a number of reasons, THE GORGON once again teams though briefly Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Both are at the top of their game, here, and Fisher was never finer. Dark and atmospheric, THE GORGON was one of those movies that held me enthralled as a kid- and again as an adult. Not an easy feat, that: all too often, the movies that spooked us as children prove something less than nerve-wracking when viewed through the jaded lenses of adulthood. Like ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE, THE GORGON is that rare exception to the rule. If you'd like to hark back to the good old <more>
days, when horror movies were truly horrifying, THE GORGON is a must-see.
A cinematic painting--a Gothic story in the genuine 19th century mode. (by BrentCarleton)
Those who tiresomely belabor the inadequacy of the snakes on the Gorgon's head at the film's conclusion entirely miss the point. It is not surprising in our cretinous era that some would lament the unavailability of computer generated special effects in 1964. That they persist in doing so, however, only serves to illustrate how very far these modernists are in both sensibility and aesthetic principles from the 19th century Gothic tradition that this film so faithfully seeks to reproduce. The point isn't the snakes but the psychological force behind the baleful facial expression!In <more>
this connection, it is appropriate to observe that Terence Fisher was absolutely right in considering this one of his best films.And make no mistake: this film is very much in the 19th century Gothic tradition in both story and atmosphere. In that sense, it may be compared to a story by Ludwig Tieck, while its visuals hearken back to the paintings of Jacob van Ruisdael.Visually, it is among Hammer's most accomplished productions. Michael Reed's effective photographic renderings include: a nocturnal cemetery festooned with fluttering autumnal leaves, the viscerally chilly, fog and frost bitten ravine you can almost watch your own breath smoke in merely watching it where a hanged man is discovered, the vast shadowed Castle Borski depicted under a full moon with scudding clouds, to name but a few.And Mr. Reed is ably abetted by production designer Bernard Robinson whose key piece in this film: the deserted inside of the self-same Castle Borski is a marvel of tattered armorial flags, dust laden furniture, and sinister mirrors. The musical score is also one of Hammer's best and most effectively understated.But the film belongs to the incomparably lovely Barbara Shelley's "Carla Hoffman"--she of the sweeping pelisse seated on a gilded throne in the deserted castle. It is to be hoped that someday this accomplished beauty will receive all the retrospective attention surely due her. For now, suffice it to say, that few actresses in the history of cinema have constructed a portrayal so wholly and precariously based on an enigma, an enigma Miss Shelley consistently reveals in every gesture, expression and nuance, without allowing her character, "Carla" the possibility of even understanding it herself.It isn't merely that her Carla is fatally charming and alluring, but decent and humanitarian as well, a victim, to be sure, but not at all in the degraded, naturalistic way that Jean Seberg's portrayal is in "Lilith" a film to which "The Gorgon" is frequently compared.Much can always be found to admire in anything Miss Shelley does. For now let us just close with a passing note on her deportment, the absolute self control she exercises in her throaty, perfectly modulated voice and carriage. Would that actresses today would study her technique !!!!!!!!!!!Watch her in her first confrontation scene with Peter Cushing in his parlor, where she accuses him of stonewalling during the inquest, just prior to the entrance of Paul's father--Professor Heinz. Merely observing her majestically exit the room after being introduced to the Professor is worth the whole price of admission!
Arriving in a small German hamlet, a scientist sent for his studies finds a rash of murders shortly afterward forces him to call upon his former professor for help, and together they find the cause to be a legendary mythological figure reawakened in modern times.For the most part this here is one of the best Hammer films, and provides some of the best that it has to offer. The main factor to help here is that the atmosphere in this film is completely off-the- charts, providing a ton of Gothic showcases for the film and giving it something to enjoy. The castle here is one of the best, <more>
combining everything that the ones employed from the past and it retains a great level of fear to it as it's an effectively creepy and tense place that has plenty to like about it with it's elaborate stone courtyards, giant statues, massive arch columns and stairways which make for a rather fine setting for the monsters' home-base while letting the decrepit, leaf-filled hallways create an imposing air of menace and dread that's welcomed in the best of the Gothic tales. That goes hand-in-hand nicely with the talk of the different curses affecting the area and the scenes of the first victims turning to stone in the castle walls where the howling wind and sweeping shots of the creature walking along the area makes for a rather dark and chilling Gothic setup. This one also works well at delivering the central mystery of the creatures' origin as there's the mythological connection to the true beings in history and then settling into the town under the false pretenses which is a rather intriguing and enjoyable section of the film. This has more scares in it than most Hammer offerings, which is a welcome site with this allowing for quite a large number of action scenes throughout here that ranges from the opening double-murder act on the couple to her father's confrontation with the creature and the other encounters here with the sudden appearance of the creature's reflection in the pond during a vicious and chilling shock scare which is quite fun. The finale here is also rather fun with the big sword-fight around the castle and the great manner of defeating the creature at the end makes for a really thrilling finish. These are the film's best points, but this here did have a few flaws to it. The fact that the amnesia angle in here is very weak is something of a weakness as it's just poorly thought-out, offers nothing of interest and just feels so tacked on to provide something to make the final battle more thrilling when it actually does nothing at all. The appearance of the Gorgon itself, when shown full-on near the end, is a slight let down, with this ancient-evil looking more like an old woman with too much make-up on and a rubber reptile filled wig. The snakes are very stiff in their movements and seem to be just wobbling around as opposed to writhing, and the cheesy puppet head during the ending decapitation, highlighting this, is just ridiculous. The short time makes it seem like more could've been done with it, but otherwise, these here are the film's flaws.Today's Rating/PG: Violence.
The Gorgon 1964 is one of my favorite Hammer films and I was surprised it's so little known considering how this film is clearly an inspiration for Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, from the plot, to the cinematography and the creepy soundtrack. Anyway, The Gorgon is a fun little thriller which deals with one of the scariest characters in horror history, that yet has had very few appearances in genre films, most notably in The Clash of the Titans. The acting is very good, Barbara Shelley is particularly great in the double role of the beautiful young nurse and the evil Greek beast. It was <more>
also great to see Lee and Cushing playing against the type .It also has some nice visuals and brilliant imagery, and Fisher manages to create a truly unsettling tone, that leads the viewer "petrified" throughout. While the film does has a definite dated feel at times, it's still great fun and a nice entry in the Hammer House of Horror.
I have to say that I'm really surprised that The Gorgon isn't one of the better known Hammer Horror films. Aside from the fact that it stars Hammer's two biggest actors - Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing - The Gorgon also features a fairly original cinematic monster, and it makes for a great fun watch! This film reminded me a lot of The Reptile in the way it plays out, in that it focuses on a mystery surrounding the central monster. It has to be said that, like a lot of Hammer Horror films, the plot is very simplistic; but that's hardly a problem as there's plenty to <more>
enjoy outside of the plot in this film. As the title suggests, the film focuses on a mysterious 'Gorgon', a woman with a head full of snakes that can turn people to stone just by looking at them. She's creating quite a problem for the local village, as citizens begin turning up dead - but unlike most dead people, they've turned to stone! The authorities try to cover it up, but as the murders continue, the son of one of the victims decides to investigate.The film is very typical of Hammer in that it features a lush colour scheme and a lot of eerily Gothic settings. The Gorgon is directed by Hammer's most prolific director, Terence Fisher, and as usual - he does a solid job. The fact that this film stars both Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee is definitely to its advantage, although it is unfortunate as is the case with many of their joint ventures that they don't get to spend a lot of screen time together. Neither one is at their very best; but even Lee and Cushing on autopilot makes for great viewing, and neither one disappoints. It has to be said that the special effects are a bit shoddy and the monster doesn't look particularly scary; but stuff like that is part of the charm of Hammer Horror, and personally - I wouldn't have it any other way! It all boils down to a pretty standard conclusion, but while nothing about this film stands out too much next the rest of Hammer's output - it still stands up as a more than decent little horror film and I'm certain that my fellow Hammer fanatics wont be disappointed with it!
This is in my opinion, one of the classic 'Hammer' films. Almost the entire film takes place at night on full moons, which gives the film an added frisson of suspense.In 1905, somewhere in Europe Megara one of the three gorgons from Greek mythology is terrorising a village by picking off the locals on the night of the full moon and turning them to stone. Peter Cushing plays the local Doctor, who covers up these supernatural deaths by issuing false death certificates. The Chief of Police Patrick Troughton motivated by fear is also covering up the truth. After two of his friends are <more>
petrified Christopher Lee turns up to investigate, and its finally by his hand in the manner of Perseus that Megara is beheaded.For anyone who's a fan of 'Hammer' films or who likes a well made horror film without the buckets of blood that modern horror films are drenched in, this one's for you!
This underrated little film from Hammer features an all-star cast including Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Patrick Troughton, Richard Pasco & Micheal Goodliffe.Rumor has it that the town of Vandorf is haunted by the spirit of the legendary Gorgon named Mageara whose appearance is so hideous she turns those foolish enough to gaze upon her into stone ..mysterious deaths and rumors of the victims being turned to stone bring many of our lead characters together to investigate.This is a wonderful film with fitting music and wonderful set designs which add to its overall <more>
atmosphere of haunting terror. A terrific set of British actors, a 19th Century setting and terrific costumes make this Hammer chiller a winner.