Set in the European village of Vandork, The Gorgon opens with a young painter named Bruno learning that his model/lover, Sascha, is pregnant. When Bruno storms out to discuss his intentions with Sascha's father, she follows him. Weaving through the woods on a bright moon-lit night, Sascha passes near Castle Borski where she sees something horrifying--even as she screams, she cannot refrain from looking at it.
The next day, Dr. Namaroff (Peter Cushing) of the Vandorf Medical Institution prepares to examine Sascha's body. As the sheet-covered corpse is wheeled into the laboratory, a gray-colored hand brushes against an iron basket--and a finger breaks off like a piece of plaster.
|Hands turn to stone as a dying victim|
writtes a letter of warning.
|Fisher's use of shadows contributes much to|
the film's eeriness.
If there's a connection to Fisher's earlier work (he's considered an auteur in France), it's a pervading sense of gloom. No character is safe and it quickly becomes evident that there's a strong likelihood of a downbeat ending. In Fisher's films, the heroes sometimes perish or, if they survive, they are scarred by their experiences. It's no surprise that Victor Frankenstein, the "hero" of Hammer's Frankenstein films--most of which were directed by Fisher--is also a villain.
|Barbara Shelley as Carla...is she|
John Gilling, a Hammer veteran, penned the screenplay from a short story by J. Llewellyn Devine. He claimed his original screenplay was altered by producer Anthony Hinds. Even so, what remains is an above-average script with one puzzling part. The three Gorgon sisters are identified as Medusa, Magaera, and Tisiphone. However, in Greek mythology, Medusa is the only one of that trio who is a gorgon; Magaera and Tisiphone were two of the three Furies (or Erinyes), whose heads were also adorned with serpents.
Magaera, when she is shown in The Gorgon, looks less than impressive. Fortunately, her appearances are few and do not detract from the film. For while it may not rank with Hammer's finest horrors, such as Brides of Dracula, The Gorgon is a sharp little film that relies on mood and a sense of dread to create a memorable viewing experience.