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  Gorgon, The Stoned Love
Year: 1964
Director: Terence Fisher
Stars: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Richard Pasco, Barbara Shelley, Michael Goodliffe, Patrick Troughton, Jack Watson, Joseph O'Conor, Redmond Phillips, Jeremy Longhurst, Toni Gilpin, Joyce Hemson, Alister Williamson, Michael Peake, Sally Nesbitt
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Bruno Heitz (Jeremy Longhurst) is an artist staying in the small German town of Vandorf, and he has struck up a relationship with one of the local women, Sascha (Toni Gilpin). Tonight he is sketching her for a painting, and she asks him if he will marry her, but he makes excuses until she reveals she is pregnant with his child. Determined to make a good woman of her, Bruno strides out into the night to see her father, despite her pleas not to, and in the darkness of the forest Sascha pursues him until something looms from the shadows: she is so terrified she literally turns to stone...

Getting a bit short of new ideas, and running out of classic horror stories to remake, Hammer opted for a change with a female monster instead of all those Frankensteins and Draculas victimising the ladies, effectively turning the tables. However, scriptwriter John Gilling, who would helm a virtual remake of The Gorgon a couple of years later with The Reptile, still stuck to a basic vampire movie template, only in this case the injured parties failed to return from the dead.

Some things didn't change, as there was Peter Cushing in a mixture of his Frankenstein and Van Helsing roles as Dr Namaroff, from the nearby hospital, who is alarmed by yet another petrified corpse found in the vicinity. There is a cover up, and when Bruno is discovered hanging from a tree, he gets the blame for an apparent murder-suicide. Yet Namaroff's assistant, Carla (Barbara Shelley), can't help but notice one of the fingers of Sascha's hand has broken off when it's wheeled into the lab for autopsy...

That's because there's a Gorgon at large, not Medusa, the famous one, but an obscure one called Magaera, although Namaroff deduces that she has taken the form of a human. As there are only about three women in the cast, not including the one playing the monster, and one of them gets killed in the first five minutes, it's none too difficult to work out the identity of the villainess. If it's not the mad woman who periodically escapes from the hospital, it could only be...

Well, I'm not going to spoil it. As it is, this is fairly routine for a Hammer horror, this time centering around the particularly unlucky Heitz family. Following Bruno's death, his professor father (Michael Goodllffe) appears to investigate a trial he rightly sees as a sham, but unluckily meets up with the Gorgon and is predictably affected, though amusingly not before he manages to pen a letter outlining what's happened to him. So it is that his other son, Paul (Richard Pasco) shows up to, er, investigate, and falls for Carla - bad news for Namaroff, who also had his eye on her. To sort out all this nonsense a blustering Christopher Lee turns up in the last half hour, providing a much needed jolt to a plot that is chasing its tail, but its bothersome females aside, this effort is strictly run of the mill. Not that it's bad, just not top drawer. Music by James Bernard.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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