|Page 1 of 4:||   |
|Index||35 reviews in total|
After a brief Van Helsing-styled prologue establishing gargoyles in
historical Romania and implying that they've been trapped under the
ground, Gargoyle: Wings of Darkness (the title given by the film as
well as the video box) takes us to modern day Romania, where Ty Griffin
(Michael Paré) and Jennifer Wells (Sandra Hess) are working on the
kidnapping of a public official's son. While chasing the kidnappers, Ty
discovers that one has suddenly disappeared--only valuable cargo and a
large bloodstain remain. Meanwhile, two archaeologists/historians,
Christina Durant (Kate Orsini) and Richard Barrier (Jason Rohrer) are
working in a church that we realize has a connection with the prologue.
How will they all tie together, and what will they do if a gargoyle is
on the loose again?
Although Gargoyle is a bit awkward in a couple spots--the pacing isn't quite as smooth as it could be--I really enjoyed the film. Director/co-writer Jim Wynorski has a long history making campy, low-budget exploitation horror films (which is a positive in my eyes) and his experience shows. Gargoyle looks much more high-budget and "high-class" than a lot of his other work, but it still retains a sense of fun, freshness and finely honed craft that comes from being a veteran.
So imagine my surprise when I check out the other reviews on IMDb and see that to date, the film is almost universally loathed. While reading through most of the other comments, I couldn't help feeling that the majority of them were simply ridiculous. While I can see many filmgoers not pronouncing Gargoyle a masterpiece, I can't see giving this film a failing grade. Like usual, it was clear that the reviewers who hated the film must have had bizarre expectations.
Despite the detective/crime/action elements that are prominent in the scene immediately following the prologue (and which were handled brilliantly in my view), Gargoyle is at its heart a monster flick, and a fairly traditional one at that. Surprisingly, a number of people commented on various facets of Gargoyle seeming implausible. Monster films are a subgenre of horror, and horror is really "dark fantasy", or "dark fairy tales" (there are some difficult cases for that description, such as serial killer biopics, but "dark fantasy" works for most of the genre). Thus, Gargoyle is not a documentary. So it really doesn't matter if, for example, gargoyles were unheard of in Romania until recently. It doesn't matter if the CIA doesn't do the work they're shown doing here. You should expect Gargoyle to be implausible--hopefully, you don't believe that giant flying gargoyles are real or believable; when that's the premise, it's not the filmmaker's fault if you expect but do not get plausibility.
At that, the film references a number of historical facts. Wynorski and his cohorts actually did a fair amount of research for the film. For example, they talk about the historical Dracula, Vlad Tepes, and contextualize the "reality" versus the myths that were built up around him. They actually went to the trouble of finding a property that looks remarkably similar to the famous 19th Century pencil sketch of the ruins of Castle Dracula (you can see it Chapter 6 of Raymond T. McNally and Radu Florescu's book, In Search of Dracula). They also insert a number of clever references to past horror films. One of the principal homes of villainy in the film is named Castle Orlok, which comes from Graf Orlok, the name of the Dracula character is F.W. Murnau's 1922 classic, Nosferatu. There is a reference to Vasaria, the village introduced in Ghost of Frankenstein (1942). There are obvious visual references to the Alien films. They also reference real-life horror culture, such as "vampire clubs".
Other reviewers complained about the special effects. CGI is the only means available to produce this kind of film at this kind of budget. Yes, the cgi in the film looks "fake". Again, hopefully no one would think that a huge flying gargoyle would look real, anyway. It's a fantasy token. You have to use your imagination when watching fantasy. Mechanicals/animatronics of flying gargoyles would have looked "fake" too, and would have raised the budget to 100 million. One person commented that the cgi appears as if Wynorski's crew had been trying to capture the look of Ray Harryhausen claymation ala the Sinbad films, and another said that the effects had a 1950s flavor. Believe it or not, a lot of us love Harryhausen's work and monster flicks from the 1950s; so if the cgi has that look, we think it's a good thing. As for the look of the blood and "gore" effects, I thought they were well done. They were stylized and artistic. I like that. To repeat, the film is not a documentary; the blood and gore do not have to look like crime scene photos to be good.
Others complained about the performances. The dialogue and acting seemed more than fine to me. I'm not sure what anyone would find unsatisfactory there. The film is a bit campy, but intentionally so--remember Wynorski's roots, after all, and camp is not at all unprecedented for a monster flick. If you like monster flicks, you probably have a fair taste for camp. The one thing that I do agree with most reviewers about is the comment regarding the female cast members--they are all exceptionally, enchantingly beautiful. So even if you don't like the performances, there is plenty of eye candy when it comes to the cast as long as you're attracted to women.
Gargoyle had a remarkably modern feel to me. To a large extent, it actually reminded me of "Special Unit 2" (2001) an unfortunately short-lived, campy horror television show that was also unjustly slammed by some critics. It's extremely important to have appropriate expectations when watching a film like Gargoyle. As long as you like the genre and the tone, you should find the film sufficiently entertaining.
I'll say it right away: I'm a sucker for monster movies. Also for the bad ones. Yes, even the really bad ones. And technically and theoretically "Gargoyle" is a bad one. No doubt about that. Hey, Jim Wynorski directed this one, so what can one expect, right? But I've started to like this guy a lot over the recent years. He made great campy horror-flicks during the 80's ("Chopping Mall", "Return of the Swamp Thing"), and during these last years I saw some of his newer, nonsensical monster movies. And I had loads of fun with them. Great thing with his newer monster-flicks, is that he puts so many crazy ideas and subplots in them, that you never get bored. Okay, most of the time it doesn't lead to anything, but it's still fun. Plus, he often even rips-off various plot elements or characters from his own movies, to re-use them in new flicks of his. These are the mysterious Ways of Wynorski. Anyway, here we got: Ancient Gargoyles with their offspring being born from "Alien"-like cocoons, a Roumanian setting with lots of castles, two CIA detectives investigating the strange goings-on and mutilated bodies, a terrorist-kidnapping, a drug-lord running a sinister voodoo-nightclub, rival drug-dealers, a Dracula-worshiping cult (mentioned only), two competitive priests (of which one has a secret agenda), a gorgeous-looking cutie with a degree in history/folklore/archeology (or something), Michael Paré, a spectacular car-chase with continuity errors, Michael Paré cranking up a smile at the end while laughing at a joke, one final "this ain't over"-shot. And some other things. So how can you not have fun with it? The CGI used for the gargoyle is surprisingly tolerable and even reminded me at times of those good old stop-motion effects back in the old days. Thinking about it, this film is a far better movie then, for example, "Pterodactyl" (2005) - another one of those flying CGI beasts of terror movies - because in "Gargoyle" at least there's an attempt at a story. Hell, put "Gargoyles" next to the recent, utterly abominable "Harpies" (2007), and you'll see "Gargoyles" for the genuine Wynorski Masterpiece that it is. Of course it's complete nonsense. But it's Wynorski-nonsense, and that's about the same as pure fried gold.
I don't think I'm spoiling anyone's experience of this film by telling
you not to see it if you have anything better to do, like clean under
the stove. It gets dirty under there and you've gotta clean it
I think the movie suffers from a lack of sex and violence, though there is one car chase stunt that looks so dangerous it could only have been filmed in a country where life is cheaper than beer. "Gargoyle"'s heart is in the right place, but its aspirations are conservative. It is at least not pretentious. But I had a great time acting in it, playing the perennial idiot in the horror movie who says "What's down this hole?" and dies for his hubris. Plus I got to meet Michael Pare. Every film junkie should work with a B-movie staple at least once before death. And Romanians are the loveliest people I've met. Literally the loveliest. Walk down the street in Bucarest: if 7 of every 10 women aren't absolutely beautiful, you're walking down a street I didn't come across; and be consoled by the fact that at least 5 of the 10 are available for drinks.
Part of the film was shot in Casa Radio, an abandoned, unfinished Classic Communist Bloc-cum-Georgian Nightmare edifice originally intended to house KGB propaganda ministries, i.e. Radio Not-so-Free Europe. The building's five stories tall and takes up a city block; best of all, while its facade radiates Big Brotheresque state solidity, it resides near the city center like a post-apocalyptic ruin in a jungle of burdock and hemp peopled by dozens of Gypsies and scores of wild dogs. Construction on Casa Radio was suspended when Caucescu and his wife were executed on TV in 1989, and still there are gaping holes that drop from the sun-baked top floor (offering surreal vistas of a modern quarter-mile stretch of concrete roof, decorated with jutting rebar and old car parts, overlooking a crumbling ancient city) all the way down to the damp, creepy sub-basement (which doubles in the film for the Gargoyle lair.) No American-style guardrails or warning signs for Bucarest.
Since the demise of the Soviet Union, Casa Radio has hosted several non-union film shoots, including "Highlander III". It is attractive to producers because it's a cheap location, massive in terms of scale and available space, bizarre looking, and free of insurance headaches as it's still state property. Plus no one complains if you don't clean up after your production: anything left onsite is interpolated into the resident Gypsies' construction of their shanty town in this actual urban jungle.
An assistant director was bitten bloody by a wild dog during the shoot of "Gargoyle". The apples provided by catering were pressed into service by cast and crew as projectiles in order to keep the prowling dogs at bay. I too was bitten by wild dogs in Bucarest, once in a bar (!) and once in a city park. I also survived two car wrecks in two weeks, both in taxis and neither of which was seen by the drivers involved as grounds for stopping the cars.
GEEK NOTE: The Sci-Fi Network or Channel or whatever was one of the backers of this film (the smaller the budget, the more producers on set), so it's a little weird that nobody had a problem with the original title, "Gargoyles", until it was almost time to show it on the network, even though Sci-Fi already had an unrelated series of that name. The title was changed sometime relatively close to release, as I have a color-corrected copy labeled with the former title.
In this movie, the gargoyles deserve to take the earth. It feels like
they're the only one taking this whole movie seriously.
The premise of the film is gargoyles which are mythical creature; they fall somewhere between demons, bats, dragons but just looks like a meaner Dracula in the bat form from Van Helsing. These gargoyles then meaninglessly kill a lot of people. And, it's up to our hero to save the day and the world.
The CGI is awesome and it's stuff right out of "Van helsing" with the bat/human flying creature and the countless spawns flying around. The sets are awesome. The action scenes and car chases are tight.
But, the acting is really bad. The way the movie is between the action scenes is really bad. Also, the story is really bad. But, the gargoyles are really mean and they do some really cool stuff.
The main action here's lethargic way of dialog makes him seem dumb; the blond girl doesn't look sexy enough or forceful enough - she just feels ordinary and without an interesting character; the girl who plays the scientist doesn't really act like one.
This is really low on quality in the genre of monster movies - except for the monster itself.
Not really worth watching.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One does not have to watch an incredible amount of creature features to
realize that the majority of them is virtually the same, dividable into
a few major categories. I don't have those lined out, but
GARGOYLE(billed over here as Revenge of the Gargoyle) clearly falls
under the Mythology & Conspiracy In Order to Protect the World
categories, an approach to the monster flick which I'm particularly
fond of. Dropping into the movie during a chase and a subsequent
killing, it looked like the climax. Luckily i didn't run into anything
more than another piece of formula: have a cop chase a criminal with
climbing skills and have the monster kill the latter to warm up the
audience. That apart, it's still a decent piece of direct-to-video SF.
In practical terms, an 'OK way to kill 90 minutes".
That apart, it's still a decent piece of direct-to-video SF. The CGI is good, although naturally more convincing when combined with darkness & fog than when chasing a car in broad daylight. As a matter of fact that scene took away a lot of the creature's charisma.
The acting is good enough, with 'Father Soren' standing out as the second most important character, namely the Sympathetic Conspirator, who knows precisely what's behind a series of mysterious murders, has the means to bring them to an end and is willing to collaborate with the Hero, an outsider which is distrusted by the other conspirators. 'Lex' was also entertaining: pity he didn't get a bigger part... As for as a climax is concerned, this movie has both an assassination squad with large guns & a crossbow! Finally, the Romanian settings are gorgeous.
The murders simply suck, limited to swift snappings of the victims (with a horribly fake decapitation & a bucket of tomato blood ) and mutilated dummies. - 'Soren' turning into the bad guy in order to release hell on Earth didn't work no more than that blatant Alien rip-off of a breeding chamber. Releasing a cloud of gargoyles'd have been more interesting anyway.
That stupid progressive priest. He turned out to play his part in the story twist but he didn't come off as a believable clergyman for a second nevertheless. Check Cage in the LA Convention Center in FACE OFF. - That stupid teacher. He should've been drained & ripped on screen.
I was apprehensive as it was a Sci-Fi Channel movie, which often means cheapness and bad writing and acting. But actually, for one it is actually not too bad, not good by all means but unlike others it does have redeeming qualities. The Van Helsing-prologue is rather brief but sets the tone well, the score is reasonably atmospheric, the Romanian locations are simply gorgeous and with references to past horror films(Ghost of Frankenstein, Nosferatu) and Vampire lore there is some evidence that some research was done. Some have said the acting was better than average, some have said it was really bad. I'd say it was a mixed bag. I found Michael Parre and Sandra Hess likable leads, and Tim Abell was fun as Lex, but the best was Fintan McKeown in the most sympathetic role of the film and he does well with it. However, there are some let downs, I never did find the priest character believable for a second, the (beautiful) female scientist likewise, and the teacher was annoying and does some unbelievably stupid things. Here come the bad things about Gargoyle's Revenge however. The gargoyle(s) are much too fake, the haphazard camera work completely betrays this, and they don't come across as menacing or interesting. The murders are poorly done also, again the camera work dilutes the sense of terror the scenes should do, if not enough to clearly see how artificial the decapitations, mutilations and gore look. The script is cheesy and very unnatural and aimless in its flow and structure. The story was decent in idea but falls short in execution, a couple of intriguing scenes like the prologue and the ferris wheel, but the murders and the contrived ending aren't so good, a lot of the telling is dull and predictable and overall Gargoyle's Revenge could have done with much more atmosphere. The action scenes are repetitive, while the characters are not just clichéd but either underdeveloped(the female scientist), annoying(the teacher) or both(the priest), only Father Soren properly doesn't suffer from either. Overall, not good but not terrible either. 4/10 Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
*SPOILER ALERT* *SPOILER ALERT*
The CIA has their hands full with a high profile kidnapping. Special Agent Gargoyle comes to the rescue. Anytime there was any trouble, a shootout on a rooftop for example, the Gargoyle would swoop down in the nick of time. He was a very patriotic monster. Here to serve. And eat lots of people. Soon the CIA will hunt it down as priests and Gargoyles do battle over the fate of the entire world. Exciting eh?
"Gargoyles" is a B-movie all the way. It throws in all the clichés it can. Car chases, spies, shootouts and a large computer generated Gargoyle. As these things go, "Gargoyles" wasn't too bad. It didn't make me want to kill myself. So that's a good thing. I was a little surprised that there wasn't any nudity. One of the CIA agents was a babe as was another doctor character. Agent Babe and Dr. Hot stuff. Clearly, this was the one B-movie element that was missing. The Gargoyle was flying around buck naked but it wasn't as satisfying.
A fellow reviewer complained about continuity, BUT if he actually watched the movie and listened to the dialog he would have known WHY the priest anointed the arrow with his blood then shot the gargoyle. Special effects were not bad, but not top of the line. I thought the shots of the interior of the church were well done. I liked the beginning of the movie, which set the tone for the rest of what happened. The acting was fair to middlin as my mom would have said. This is your basic B rate movie. If you like B rate movies it is right up your ally. Not a bad way to spend some time. Michael Pare is still a good looking guy, the ladies are nice to look at according to my hubby.
Released in 2004, "Gargoyle: Wings of Darkness" (also known as
"Gargoyle" and "Gargoyle's Revenge") is a low budget made-for-TV
creature feature about the invasion of gargoyles in modern Romania.
It's Grade B all the way and I'm going to review it as such.
As far as I know 1972's "Gargoyles" was the first film on the subject and was also made-for-TV. That film dealt with the rebirth and invasion of gargoyles in the American Southwest and starred Cornel Wilde, Jennifer Salt and Scott Glenn. If you've never seen it be sure to check it out because it's a minor masterpiece for what it is and proves that you don't have to have a huge budget to make a good movie.
"Gargoyles: Wings of Darkness" is sort of a sequel in the sense that it shares many of the same elements of "Gargoyles" (e.g. gargoyle cocoons hatching in a cave, a gargoyle attacking a speeding car by getting on the roof, etc.); the main difference of course is that the invasion takes place in Romania and the gargoyles are all CGI as opposed to stunt people in cool rubber costumes. Is "Wings of Darkness" as good as "Gargoyles"? I'd say no, but it's hard to say for a few reasons. For instance, "Gargoyles" was the first of its kind, as far as gargoyles go, and there was nothing else like it in the early 70s; hence, it's easy to view it favorably with nostalgia-tinged glasses. "Wings of Darkness" came out 32 years later amidst a glut of low-budget creature features, including many with winged monsters like the two "Jeepers Creepers" flicks, not to mention later films like "Wyvern" (2009) and "Roadkill" (2011), which are both well done. What if "Wings of Darkness" came out in '72 and was the first flick of its kind? I'm sure it'd be regarded more highly.
Okay, why am I giving "Wings of Darkness" a 7/10 Star rating? Because it's good for what it is and tries hard to entertain. For one thing, many scenes are reminiscent of the Hammer films of the 60s and early 70s; needless to say, if you like Hammer you'll probably appreciate this flick. But what do I mean by "tries hard to entertain"? I mean that director/co-writer Jim Wynorski throws everything in but the kitchen sink in an effort to entertain the viewer; there are so many crazy ideas and subplots thrown in that it's almost impossible to get bored during the 87-minute runtime. Here's a list of items:
- Ancient Gargoyles with offspring being born from "Alien"-like cocoons. The gargoyles don't look bad for CGI, although to be expected they're kinda cartooney; plus you get quite a few good looks at 'em, including close-ups; there's even a prominent scene where a gargoyle attacks in broad daylight.
- Authentic Romanian locales with lots of castles, ancient churches, graveyards and mountain vistas.
- A terrorist kidnapping.
- A wild shoot-'em-up car chase.
- Mulder & Scully-like CIA agents (Michael Paré and Sandra Hess) and their investigation into the gar-thing phenomenon.
- A "cool" drug-lord and his sinister nightclub.
- A satanic ritual with quasi-altar sacrifice and requisite scantily-clad wenches.
- Rival drug gangs.
- Dracula's castle (actually Vlad the Impaler).
- Another wild car chase; this time with a winged gargoyle along a spectacular mountainside road.
- Other than Sandra Hess, a stunning brunette leading lady, Dr. Christina Durant (Kate Orsini). In fact, the film's full of incredibly gorgeous women, like Hammer.
How can all this stuff possibly gel together in a coherent story? I don't know but it's not bad for a low-budget TV monster flick.
On the downside, some of the acting/dialogue is kinda wooden or unconvincing as if the actors first read the script that morning, but that's to be expected in this type of Grade-B creature-on-the-loose movie; it's not "Apocalypse Now" after all. Also, at one point the movie mixes-up gargoyles with dragons, which is strange since they're two totally different mythological creatures; although I'm not sure 'gargoyle' can legitimately qualify as a creature since the term is actually a word of French derivation meaning "water-throat" referring to ornamental fixtures or grotesques on Gothic era cathedrals who's mouths served as water spouts to facilitate the flow of rain buildup from their roofs.
A quick search on Google reveals little as far as supernatural mythology of gargoyles and chimera, the non-functional grotesque variety that were added as pure decorations. Some mention is made of tales regarding the gargoyle forms as guarding their cathedrals during the night in a living form and then returning to their stoned state during the day, but such tales were created after the fact to explain why they were so commonly seen. Humans have always had a ghoulish, darker side and the forms stuck in the popular consciousness. So enterprising 14th century devotees came up with a fanciful explanation for why they were there for young inquisitive minds, perhaps as a put-on to scare kids into finishing their vegetables. There are no tales of gargoyles having banded together with Satan to do his bidding on Earth as depicted in the 1972 film's commanding prologue, and in fact the opposite is actually what is implied since they were guarding churches.
If you're into gargoyles, Hammer Films or creature features in general you should check this one out. Like I said, it tries hard to entertain despite the low budget. It's at least an enjoyable guilty pleasure.
You know that mouthwash commercial where the guy has a mouth full of
Listerine or whatever it is and he's trying really hard to keep from
spitting it up into the sink? That's a great metaphor for this movie. I
kept watching, even though it was really difficult. But keeping
mouthwash in your mouth will leave you with a minty fresh feeling. This
movie left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I should have spit it out
when I had the chance.
The premise is corny enough to be fun. For the first time in like a thousand years, Gargoyles have returned to Romania, and all of the priests who knew how to fight and kill these things are long dead. It's up to Michael Pare and some other secret agents to get to the bottom of things before the Gargoyles run amok. Unfortunately, the premise is completely lost in bad dialog and less than enthusiastic acting on the part of the human leads. The best acting is done by the CG Gargoyles.
In the end, this movie feels like a poor man's Van Helsing. If you check your brain at the door, this might get you through a dreary Monday night. I gave it 3 out of 10 stars.
|Page 1 of 4:||   |
|Ratings||External reviews||Parents Guide|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|