|Pop Culture Gadabout|
Saturday, January 03, 2009 |
( 1/03/2009 10:53:00 PM ) Bill S.
RUBBER SNAKES: Watched an old Hammer film this a.m. that I'd been saving since it was broadcast Halloween on TCM, The Gorgon, starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. I'd long heard that this '64 offering is a weaker entry in the Hammer canon, and, after viewing it, I can see why. Despite the presence of two usually reliable horror actors (and house director Terence Fisher), you never get a sense that anybody in the movie actually believes in its monster. Every time Lee or Richard Pasco, as the poor chump who falls in love with cursed heroine Barbara Shelley, outlined a piece of the Gorgon myth for us ignorant viewers, it never really connected to what we were watching on-screen.
Part of the blame can be placed on John Gilling's script, which is pretty damn parsimonious in its explanations behind Shelley's transformations from blond Germanic ingenue into hideous beastie. And when she finally appears as a full Gorgon in the movie's finale, the wobbling rubber snakes on top of her head blow it altogether. (Made me wish that Ray Harryhausen - who worked for Hammer three years later on One Million Years B.C. - had been brought in for two or three minutes of his inimitable stop-motion work. Remember his Medusa from Clash of the Titans?) But lame effect aside, the primary lesson of The Gorgon remains more basic: if you don't build your monster up with sufficient conviction, it really doesn't matter what the heck they look like when they finally show their ugly mug . . .