‘The Gorgon:an under-rated hammer horror classic
Hammer Films THE GORGON (1964) reunited stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee with director Terence Fisher for the first time in five years, as they hadn’t made a movie together since THE MUMMY (1959) in a classic as Terence Fisher crafts out an under-rated classic that may be one of most overlooked hammer horror films all time. The plot was inspired by the legend of the Gorgon from Greek mythology which was about creatures that stare you turn you to stone. Director Terence Fisher, the lynchpin of Hammer’s success, is on top form and creates a film of unexpected beauty in this over-looked classic.
Peter Cushing who often portrays the hero in such Hammer Film classics as The Mummy and The Curse of Frankenstein and The Horror of Dracula this time reverses roles and plays our villain and a welcome change it is too as he makes the role into something truly special. He brings a sympathetic appeal to the character of Namaroff despite his stoic and calculating nature in which he gives a good performance for his role. As Professor Meister it is evident that Lee thoroughly relished the opportunity the role gave him to create such a memorable eccentric who, like Van Helsing who seems quite capable of tracking and capturing any beast, creature, or phantom he happens to find in a scientific way as he gives out such a performance. Barbra Shelly is wonderful as Namaroff’s assistant, Carla. Her motivations for acting strange throughout the film are wonderfully ambiguous and once it’s revealed. Patrick Troughton puts in an appearance as the representative of the constabulary as he gives a good performance in his supporting role.
this is an absolutely gorgeous looking film that’s ripe with Gothic atmosphere and some stunning visuals that take you form one place to another. The sets for the castle are fantastic and the use of color that Fisher and his associates employ throughout the film really helps keep our eyes darting from one fantastic looking shot that is truly something you can enjoy anytime. Instead of a bloodthirsty Count leaping over a table and hurling his vampire mistress to the floor, you get a snake-headed woman lurking the shadows and staring at her victim as the creepy monster of the gorgon really will creep you out as she is a force of nature that feels such a fun force of nature that makes the movie feel such fun to watch.
The Gorgon is not a fan favorite but the movie does really make you want watch more with its very wonderful cinematography and production design and its very wonderful looking creature that will creep you out. John Gilling (The Plague of the Zombies) penned the screenplay for Fisher and based it on the myth of the 3 Gorgons of Greek myth. In the film there is one of the 3 Gorgons (In myth they are Medusa, Stheno, and Euryale. Magaera, from Fisher’s film is actually one of the Furies) lurking and killing off men and women in Vandorff as its what drives the plot forward.He did this and in place of Medusa, he renamed the gorgon Magaera ( one of the three Furies in mythology The Gorgon” went on to become Hammer’s first female monster.James Bernard here delivers a simple yet somber piece that evokes heart and deep complexity. Something he did similarly with his score to The Devil Rides Out. The Gorgon herself is a horrible apparition with snakes and a red eyed glare that is simply shocking and rendered completely with fear and murkiness. Her visage has to be terrible to those who gaze upon her and Fisher makes sure that his leading lady or should I say leading Gorgon really makes the movie feel so special.
Like all of the Hammer Studio films, The Gorgon contains richly detailed settings and beautiful colorful cinematography. James Bernard provides a mysterious score to enhance this mythological tale and implemented an early electronic keyboard, the Novachord, to create the effect of the Gorgon’s call. It was most dreamlike and bewitching movie that you will enjoy to watch anytime.