Gargoyles (1972)

This is quite a nifty little TV film, made back when TV movies came up with the odd gem, like 'Duel', 'Something Evil' and 'Don't be afraid of the dark.' It has nothing to do with any cartoon made today. It's funny though, how the memory can be faulty ... I remembered some key images from this film, having seen it on TV as a child, but the key thrust of the film is totally different to how I remembered it. We'll explore that thought together a bit later.

A anthropologist/paleontologist, Mercer Boley (A fit-looking Cornel Wild) and his daughter Diana are called into the American desert to see the bones of a demon, as claimed by an eccentric old man. At first thinking him a total fake, they soon find the old man's barn attacked at night by unseen things. In the ensuing chaos, the old man is killed by a falling beam and the barn burns down. However, Mercer and Diana manage to salvage the horned skull.

Their car is attacked by a flying monster, who lands on top of their car. Shaking it off, they rest in a hotel but more gargoyle-like monsters attack, stealing back the skull. One is killed by a truck, and Mercer wants to study the body. The rest of it's brethren attack again and this time, their winged leader kidnaps his daughter. Desperate to rescue her, Mercer roused the locals and the cops and they attack the gargoyles' cave. Soon they discover that every few centuries, hordes of Gargoyle eggs hatch and this time, they want to take over the world. Mercer needs to rescue Diana from the evil leader of the Gargoyles, and destroy the Gargoyle threat before humanity is overwhelmed. Can it be done?

As said before, this is a fine little film with all putting in quite good, earnest performances. The simple desert locations and caves are used to good effect. Maybe a quibble is the constant slow-motion used on the Gargoyles, but it does add a certain creepiness at times. It's the gargoyle costumes that really stand out, though. Lots of scales, claws and well-sculpted heads. One of the early creations of Stan Winston, makeup expert, they're on a par with the 'Creeper' from 'Jeepers Creepers', if you've seen it. Especially effective is the winged, demonic-looking leader, played by Bernie Casey. Getting back to my opening comment about recalling the film from childhood times. I remembered the Gargoyles as being basically good, but misunderstood by a hostile humanity. The movie I watched the other night had evil Gargoyles threatening to take over poor old humanity! What sort of memory do I have?

Overall, a definite recommendation from me if you like low-budget, but effective film-making. TV movies can be good, but sometimes you have to travel back in time a few decades.

© Boris Lugosi 2002.


Review written: 07/24/2003 20:36:49