Movie Name: Gargoyles
Studio: Tomorrow Entertainment
Release Date(s): November 21, 1972
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Dr. Mercer Boley (Cornel Wilde) is a researcher on the verge of a big break. With his daughter Diana (Jennifer Salt) aiding him, Mercer learns of a discovery by a man in the desert. Mercer and Diana are about to discover that the gargoyles depicted in legend exist and they want the world back. With no one believing the danger, Mercer must find a way to stop the gargoyle hordes before it is too late.
Directed by Bill L. Norton, Gargoyles was a made-for-TV movie. The film won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup and has gained a cult following over the years.
I saw Gargoyles in the early ’80s as a kid. The movie was part of a horror week on a local station and scared the crap out of me. It was a lot of the implied horror in the movie…but those gargoyles scared me too.
The plot off the movie is pretty weak. The beginning part of the movie feels a bit like The Hills Have Eyes (but before that movie was made). It could be the desert setting or the idea that the creatures are watching the characters. They are menaced by these unseen horrors and it is kind of creepy.
The second part of the movie gets bit goofy and loses some of the horror. I do have childhood fears of the gargoyles watching it today, but they are better not seen. The movie devolves into an almost environmental issue with the poor gargoyles just fighting for survival of their race. It isn’t as scary as the first part of the film.
The movie’s real appeal are these gargoyles. Unfortunately, their costumes are pretty dated, but they were scary for a kid. The head gargoyle (played by Bernie Casey) is rather creepy with his big booming voice (actually provided by Vic Perrin), but the other gargoyles kind of remind me of the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz…which as a kid scared me as well (maybe it is flying monsters who are horrifying). The makeup for the Gargoyles was the first effort of famed special effects artist Stan Winston who went on to bigger and better things (but had a nice start here).
There were some pretty great horror movies made for television in the ’70s and early ’80s. Much of this probably revolves around the fact that the movies can’t show the horror like a movie in the theater and they have to work to scare. Gargoyles falls in those categories for me with movies like Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and Don’t Go to Sleep. It isn’t quite as scary, but it is memorable.
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