Women’s History Month starts tomorrow, so kick things off with “The Gorgon” — a hidden Hammer horror gem featuring a female monster.
Hammer Studios. Terrence Fisher. Christopher Lee. Peter Cushing. Is it Dracula? The Mummy? Frankenstein? Nope! This week’s Tubi Tuesday is a lesser heralded monster movie, The Gorgon.
Almost 60 years after its release, some horror fans might consider The Gorgon to be a cheap B-movie. However, upon its release in 1964, it was actually headed as an A-movie studio release, accompanied by Hammer’s first Mummy sequel, Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb.
The Gorgon is among the numerous collaborations between Fisher, Lee, and Cushing that dominated Hammer’s release schedule in the 1960s.
For some reason, however, this title never really resonated with horror fans. And unlike many other Hammer releases, it’s not considered a classic — or even a cult classic. Perhaps it’s because the film isn’t a remake of a Universal Horror classic. Or, perhaps it’s because it’s just downright silly.
Somewhere in Central Europe, there exists a creepy old castle. In it lives a creepy old monster from an ancient legend.
It’s not Dracula, but Megaera, the sister of Medusa.
For the past decade, she has been killing innocents by turning them to stone.
Local officials have been looking for a killer. But it isn’t until a local Professor suggests that the killer might be a Gorgon turning people into stone that they look to guidance from an expert on such matters.
Enter Christopher Lee with one of the worst mustaches in horror history.
(Truth be told, it’s not as bad as the mustache Lee sported in 1970’s Count Dracula or 1972’s Horror Express, but it’s pretty damned bad.)
Bad mustaches aside, the story now has two professors. The first who deduced that the Gorgon exists is Professor Heitz, played by Richardo Pasco. The second is his mentor, Professor Meister, played by Christopher Lee.
But wait, there’s more!
Yet another professor arrives, and it’s none other than the legendary Peter Cushing.
He plays Professor Namaroff, who just so happens to be in love with a local woman who just so happens to transform into Mesaera the Gorgon on the full moon.
The woman, Carla, played by Barbara Shelley, has amnesia but soon remembers she is the Gorgon and retreats to the spooky castle.
I’m not sure you need spoiler alerts for a nearly 60-year-old film. But, just in case, I’m about to spoil the ridiculous ending.
The three professors show up at the castle. Horror icons Lee and Cushing engage in a dramatic sword fight before everyone is turned to stone and dies. As I mentioned earlier, it’s all very, very silly… but also wildly fun.
Ultimately, this is a relatively goofy film that seems to be a patchwork of ideas taken from all the other Hammer horror films, pieced together to make one semi-coherent story.
So, why am I recommending what I still consider to be an underrated gem (terrible mustache and all)?
What makes it enjoyable and utterly rewatch-worthy are the beautiful set pieces, outstanding score, and, of course, the top-notch acting from Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.