Some mysterious murders in the countryside of Germany, where the victims turn to stone! Surely it couldn’t be the the work of…. an old Greek myth?
The Gorgon is a 1964 horror film made by Hammer Horror in their prime. It tells the tale of a small town in Germany during the turn of the century, where a myriad of suspicious murders have occurred…but the victims of these murders…. have all been turned to stone!
The film starts off with a young couple, vanishing mysteriously in the woods. The potential bride found “rock solid” (sorry..terrible pun..) and the groom, appears to have hung himself from a tree. Once alerted to the town inspector, the case is written off as a murder/ suicide…but oddly they never discuss how the alleged perpetrator managed to turn his “Bride to be”, into a statue..
The grooms father, wanting to prove his sons innocence, and also feeling there’s something suspicious afoot, decides to try and unravel the mystery himself, much to the townspeople’s distaste. With the Police inspector (played by the late great Patrick Troughton, the second Doctor Who) seeming to be trying to hide facts from the father, and the towns Doctor/Scientist, Dr Namaroff (Peter Cushing) not helping matters either with his denials, we find too that the Father also succumbs to the mysterious Stone like Death that curses this land.
Petrified…not a good way to go…
Cue his other son Richard, alerted to his late Fathers death, who managed to scribe a letter to his son right before he was petrified. Richard, who works with a Professor Karl Meister (Christopher Lee) decides to set off to Germany to unravel the mysterious deaths of his family members.
Upon arriving, the townsfolk are again, secretive and unhelpful, as if they’re holding a secret close to their hearts. Later he’s joined by Professor Karl, and the two discover a lot more than just a few simple cases of murder. There’s an old myth surrounding the area, that one of three sisters, Megaera is roaming the woods and turning her victims to stone… but these were no ordinary sisters…they were Gorgons… and related to the mythical Medusa!
Surely a Greek myth from thousands of years ago cant be real? Or is there something more afoot with the suspicious Dr Namaroff? Only time and a bit of investigative work will tell…
Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Two greats at work.
On the outset, The Gorgon is a simple thriller with the “keeps you guessing until the end” narrative. It starts off straight into the thick of the mystery and draws you in further every step of the way. The characters themselves are quite strong and convincing, from Richard, the hapless son desperately trying to solve the mystery, Dr Namaroffs brooding, mysterious and untrustworthy character and the gung ho, strong hero figure of Karl Meister. Each of these characters bounce off each other well, and to the actors credit. The main actors in the Gorgon were regulars working together in the Hammer Horror films, especially Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, who share a great chemistry when on screen together.
All in all it delivers a simple but effective thriller with a few creepy moments, and is wholly satisfying to watch.
Despite veering away from the usual Monsters in other films, Frankenstein, Dracula and the Mummy, it marks one of the few times Hammer have used Greek Mythology as the main theme of the threat, and with great return. Initially it wasn’t an instant hit with fans, but over the years, has achieved a cult following through Horror and Hammer fans alike, and rightfully so.
If your after a night of chills and intrigue, you can pick up a copy on Blu Ray and DVD through Via Vision, or all good movie retailers.