“I believe in the existence of everything which the human brain is unable to disprove.”
When a professor (Michael Goodliffe) arrives in a village to investigate the death of his son (Redmond Phillips) and his son’s lover (Sascha Cass), he is turned to stone by a local gorgon, prompting his second son (Richard Pasco) to arrive for further investigation. Pasco soon falls in love with the beautiful assistant (Barbara Shelley) of a doctor (Peter Cushing) concealing evidence of the stony corpses from both Pasco and Pasco’s professor (Christopher Lee), who is convinced the ancient gorgon is embodied in human form.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Christopher Lee Films
- Folk Tales, Fairy Tales and Mythology
- Peter Cushing Films
This Terence Fisher-directed Hammer Studios film is based on an interesting mythological premise — a snake-haired female gorgon who kills people simply by staring at them, turning them to stone (a la Medusa) — but doesn’t quite capitalize on its potential. Lee looks uncomfortable rather than dapper in his tweedy professor gear (and his presence feels gratuitous as the third guest to arrive in town to investigate):
Meanwhile, Cushing’s motives remain unclear throughout, and the solution to the mystery of the gorgon is foreshadowed far too soon. Another problem is the ineffective make-up used for Megaera (the gorgon):
… which can’t hold a candle to the enjoyable special effects used for Medusa in the same year’s 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964).
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Some atmospheric cinematography
No; this one is only must-see for Hammer Studios fans.