The Gorgon (1964)

I was pleased and amused to see Patrick Troughton in this film, not only for his short hair and moustache, but because a few years later he’d also cross swords with a gorgon (of sorts) on Doctor Who, and it has to be said the BBC’s stop motion model version actually kind of beat Hammer’s if only because their animated snakes actually moved. Apparently this was released on a double bill with the last film we considered, and was much the better half of it; plus it’s nice to have Cushing and Lee on board again, even if the latter is here in a somewhat reduced capacity (only really in it for the last half hour). And Hammer gets points, too, for coming up with a more unusual monster than usual, even if we are left with the not inconsiderable plot hole of exactly why the spirit of the gorgon has moved from ancient Greece to some Teutonic village circa 1910 (and the somewhat lesser one of the young man who appeared to commit suicide)… Interesting to see this so soon after Never Take Candy From a Stranger, as it’s ultimately built on the same sort of cover-up plot, except here it’s not the town owner protecting his pedophile dad, it’s the hospital chief doing whatever it takes—including falsifying official documents like death certificates and attempted murder—to conceal the fact that his assistant Carla is playing host to Megaera’s spirit and turning unfortunates to stone. This is all done in somewhat muted fashion that relies more on atmosphere and mood than overt shocks, so it’s a good thing there’s tons of atmosphere and mood to spare; I don’t think I’ve yet seen a colour Hammer production designed by Bernard Robinson that wasn’t great to look at and this is no exception, everything adding up to a slightly problematic but nice tale of unusually doomed romance.

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