Sunday, February 12, 2012

Gargoyles (1972)

          Made-for-TV horror movies got awfully strange in the early ’70s, sometimes diving deeper down the supernatural-cinema rabbit hole than their big-screen counterparts. Gargoyles is a prime example. Depicting exactly what its title suggests, the picture features an anthropologist running afoul of a tribe of real-life gargoyles, flying human/lizard hybrids who look as if they just emerged from the stonework of old buildings. Yet while the concept promises scares and spectacle, the makers of Gargoyles employ a moronic storyline that not only gets mired in trite monster-movie gimmicks but also contradicts itself. For most of the picture, it seems the gargoyles are misunderstood monsters trying to steer clear of human interference, but then the lead critter (Bernie Casey) announces a master plan to hatch thousands of baby monsters and take over the world. This indecision about how to present the titular creatures is unfortunately but one of Gargoyles’ problems.
          Things get off to a bland start when macho scientist/author Dr. Mercer Boley (Cornel Wilde) recruits his grown daughter, Diana (Jennifer Salt), for an expedition through the American southwest. They travel to a novelty shop whose proprietor claims to have a gargoyle skeleton, and then the novelty shop is violently attacked by unseen creatures. After the requisite scenes of our heroes reporting the incident to disbelieving authorities, who blame the attack on a trio of dirt bikers led by James (Scott Glenn), Mercer and Diana get assaulted once more. This time, however, they see their assailants—who are played by stunt men running around in head-to-toe lizard suits complete with horns, devilish faces, and giant wings. And so it goes from there. As the first onscreen monsters created by legendary special-effects guy Stan Winston, the gargoyles have some geek-cinema historical importance, but they’re also thoroughly ridiculous, especially when Casey starts delivering dialogue from behind his goofy monster mask. It must have been trippy to stumble across this thing in 1972, but time has diminished whatever charm Gargoyles might once have possessed.

Gargoyles: LAME


Ivan said...

Ouch! Was it really that bad? I remember seeing this when I was a kid and really digging it! Maybe I won't rent it and ruin my fun memories--I guess some flicks are best left in the past...
Great blog/keep up the good work!

baba galacticus said...

its not that it's bad per se, its that it doesn't seem to know exactly what it wants to be so is neither fish nor fowl as they say. but it's a dandy little gem for what it is. disposable, camp & at times, very creepy fun. enjoy it as such & you'll be delighted.& check out the trivia entries online!!

Mason said...

No, this movie is a complete dog with zero redeeming entertainment value. Salt's halter top is the only thing happening, but it stays on and she never feels chilly, so even the one glimmer of hope fails. Truly a terrible flick. Land of The Lost kid's show with The Sleystaks (sp?) is a better watch if you want campy and something digestively terrible that was never trying to be for adults, so you can enjoy it. But this movie, you're left thinking every scene "Really, who on Earth could have funded this total crap, then kept funding it?!" But if the makeup guy got his start & got better, good for him. The direction & camera techniques do not help the gargoyle costumes convince you at all, and less falls on the costume than the direction, scene, and camera techniques. Sometimes you have to watch a horrible movie to see what is possible. This is a contender for Top 100 worst films ever made to completion.