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Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Gorgon (1964) - Fun Horror Throwback

A Cheapie that looks way out of place among other films of that year.  An obvious low-rent affair that was probably shown as part of a twin-bill at drive-in showings.  Still, it has a certain charm of its own, and there are some campy moments that, taken in the right spirit, are quite amusing.

Vincent Price

I can't believe this film was made in 1964. The only thing that separates this from horror films of the early 1950s - or mid-1930s, for that matter - is that it is in color. But the setting in what appears to be Eastern Europe around 1900 is so dark, and the atmosphere so gray, that the color doesn't intrude to spoil the Gothic mood at all. The tale is straight out of mythology (if one is being generous), which gives it a kind of false legitimacy, and doesn't pull any punches.

Peter Cushing

It doesn't take long to figure out who the monster is, but that doesn't spoil the fun. The background music is straight out of "Dark Shadows" and other 1960s soap operas, and for once we actually get to clearly see and (kind of) meet the frightened townspeople who are throwing Molotov Cocktails (not carrying pitchforks, a minor nod to when this film was made). The policemen are useless and wear funny hats, there are shots for no reason of huge carriages racing through narrow streets behind thundering horses, there is a mysterious uninhabited castle that appears to be right in the middle of town because everybody who feels like it seems able to wander over into it on the slightest pretense.... One can see that this is the sort of film from which Mel Brooks got inspiration for "Young Frankenstein." And the best thing is that it is played straight as an arrow, no attempt at weak satire or anything like that which would ruin the mood.

The Gorgon

The monster of the title isn't that scary, in fact isn't scary at all, which raises the camp quality of the film considerably. One can find a lot of humor if one so chooses in the melodramatic exclamations of some of the male victims to the effect of, "She's so hideous, I'm blinded ahhhhhhhhh!" Kind of the ultimate put-down, the woman so ugly she actually does turn men to stone.... A good film to see if a woman has done you wrong lately, might bring a smile to your face. It did mine. Yes, I'm a horrible, horrible person LOL. Too bad, so sad.

The Gorgon

Simple sets, simple settings, simple tale, simple resolution - yes, it's a simple little film. Not in the same league as "The Masque of the Red Death" or "The Tomb of Ligeia" from the same year, but even Vincent Price couldn't have done much with this material.

 If you are in the mood for light horror with some unintended comic touches, it might make for an enjoyable couple of hours.

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