With “The Gorgon”, Hammer Films demonstrate the dangers of the tiresome formulaic rut in which their entire line of Gothic inspired horror films was sinking into several years before the creative stasis would become evidently irreversible. This 1964 production substitutes points of Greek mythology for the usual Carpathian folklore, but the feeling and result is basically the same, without even a trace of interpolating any elements from the actual historic myths. The setting is a typical backwoods European township favored by the studio, in which superstition walks hand in hand with a bullying authority who takes the fullest advantage of the slow-wittedness of the citizenry; usually a corrupt nobleman or a zealous theologian, but in this case the local police. The nature of the menace (a series of mysterious deaths have plagued the town for five years) could well be vampiric or a marauding collection of dead tissues (as is the usual menace from the Bray Studios) or any generic serial killer on the loose, so generic is the Hammer formula, but the circumstances of the victims turning to stone (a novel method of death also used in a different context in Universal’s “The Monolith Monsters”) opens a world of possibilities in which to develop the plot. Unfortunately, as is often the case when dealing with films of the fantastique- in which anything should be possible -the screenwriter John Gilling falls back into the bland and the predictable, with a meandering story of a pseudo-romantic triangle failing to obscure the secrets of one of the most obvious non-mysteries one could imagine.
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