Christopher Lee once remarked, “The only thing wrong with The Gorgon is the Gorgon”. He could not have been more right. This is a film so full of atmosphere, expertly paced and entertaining, yet marred by some horrific makeup and special effects. To make a long story short, there is an ancient creature terrorizing a small German village, called a Gorgon. Every month at the full moon, someone is killed. When they stumble on the Gorgon, if they look at her face, they turn to stone immediately. If they are lucky enough to just catch a glimpse, they begin to age rapidly. They believe the spirit of this being resides in one of their townspeople but are not totally sure.
Peter Cushing is the doctor of an insane asylum who is trying to keep the news of these killings under wraps. The team of Michael Goodliffe and Christopher Lee visits the village after the death of a colleague and try to investigate what is happening. Why is there a conspiracy? Who will the Gorgon take possession of? The love interest and suspected creature is played by Barbara Shelley.
It is a little more involved than that, but spoiler alert: she is the Gorgon, yet the actress actually playing it upon transformation is someone else. It is a horrific continuity gaffe, made so by the production team’s budgetary constraints. This is a creature who is supposed to be so ugly with hair of living snakes. The makeup job on her face is unconvincing—like a Medusa in a middle school pageant—to say the least, while the snakes are so fake-looking you cannot help but roll your eyes. It’s a terrible sight, but not in the way the filmmakers imagined.
Aside from that, this is a good movie. There is enough suspense, the sets are wonderful, and the acting never becomes hammy. But then there’s that damn Gorgon. Without it, or with a little extra effort, this could have gone down as one of Hammer’s greats. Instead, it’s just “another” lumped in there with the rest of the average horror films produced in the 1960’s. How very unfortunate. Also starring. Directed by Terence Fisher. 6.5 out of 10 stars.