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The Gorgon (1964)

 -  Horror  -  17 February 1965 (USA)
6.5
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In the early 20th century, a Gorgon takes human form and terrorizes a small European village by turning its citizens to stone.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Prof. Karl Meister
...
Dr. Namaroff
Richard Pasco ...
Paul Heitz
Barbara Shelley ...
Carla Hoffman
...
Professor Jules Heitz
...
Inspector Kanof
Joseph O'Conor ...
Coroner
Prudence Hyman ...
The Gorgon
Jack Watson ...
Ratoff
Redmond Phillips ...
Hans
Jeremy Longhurst ...
Bruno Heitz
Toni Gilpin ...
Sascha Cass
Joyce Hemson ...
Martha
Alister Williamson ...
Janus Cass
Michael Peake ...
Constable
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Storyline

In early-twentieth-century middle-Europe, villagers are literally becoming petrified. Although the authorities try to hush the matter up, it is apparent that at the full moon, Megaera, a Gorgon, leaves her castle lair and anyone looking on her face is turned to stone. When this fate befalls a visitor, experts from the University of Leipzig arrive to try and get to the bottom of it all. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

gorgon | stone | full moon | 1900s | legend | See All (64) »

Taglines:

The Gorgon petrifies the screen with Horror! See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 February 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La gorgona  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Prudence Hyman was nearly decapitated for real. She was supposed to duck when Lee swung the sword but forgot to do so at the critical moment. The assistant director pushed her aside just in time. The scene was then redone with a dummy. See more »

Goofs

In the climactic scene in the castle, during the fight between Namarof and Heitz, Namarof tries to secure his balance by holding on to an iron candlestick which bends, revealing itself to be made out of rubber. See more »

Quotes

Prof. Karl Meister: Well, I hadn't seen you for some considerable time, so I thought I'd come see what you're doing.
Paul Heitz: It's a long story.
Prof. Karl Meister: I've come a long way to hear it.
See more »

Connections

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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Among Hammer's best
5 July 2000 | by (Edinburgh, Scotland) – See all my reviews

The Gorgon ranks among Hammer's very best. Its premise is daring and imaginative - a female spectre so hideous that all who gaze on her are turned to stone, a power even more unnerving than the physical ferocity of lycanthropy or vampirism.

It boasts a wealth of Hammer expertise: Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are at their peak; John Gilling scripted lucidly; James Bernard's score is one of his finest, the familiar overwrought strings underlaid with a spectral organ effect; and Michael Reed's pathecolor photography defines the Hammer ‘look', all sombre interiors and gorgeous autumnal forests. But the triumph is finally director Terence Fisher's.

The film begins beautifully with the credits superimposed against the twilit battlements of Castle Borski. Other touches fleetingly capture the mood of gothic-romantic literature. Professor Heitz beguiled into the forest by the Gorgon Magaera's distant siren-call. Her reflection glimpsed through the dead leaves floating on a mill pond. The encounter by moonlight in the graveyard between Richard Pasco and Barbara Shelley.

The Gorgon is certainly one of Hammer's most pessimistic entries. The setting is turn-of-the-century Middle Europe and the production-design more Teutonic than ever (Hammer, ever economical, transposed the monster of Greek classical myth to their familiar Germanic milieu). When we join the story the village of Vandorf has been under Magaera's baleful spell for seven years. Much of the action takes place in a repressive asylum. And Castle Borski is not the richly appointed seat of other Hammer films but a broken windswept ruin.

Characterisation is equally unrelenting. Cushing's Dr Namaroff is a more ruthless and maniacal variation of Van Helsing. Lee's Professor Meister , though gruffly benevolent, is overbearingly fatalistic. Meanwhile the most sympathetic characters - Carla, Paul, his father and brother - are all killed.

OK, inevitably the Gorgon's makeup is weak (though it scared me when I first saw it at age 11). The sickly green palor and spidery wrinkles are good, but the snake-hair just looks like she washed it the night before and couldn't do a thing with it. Half-glimpsed, her first appearance is remarkably effective, though. Her graceful tiptoe from behind the cobwebs in ghastly counterpoint to what we know will be her terrible visage. A sudden shock close-up and she disappears - almost glides - back into the shadows in long shot, a sequence as well done as anything Fisher has ever constructed. Alas, audience expectation (something Hammer usually deferred to) demanded a full-facial exposure at the end.

The temptation would be to say that The Gorgon might have worked better in black and white - but that would be to deny Michael Reed's disciplined use of colour. Perhaps only today's enhanced computer-graphics could properly pull off the effect required.

That flaw apart, The Gorgon survives as an early Hammer classic that can stand alongside Dracula, Brides of Dracula and The Hound of the Baskervilles.


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