After receiving word about a mysterious carcass/skeleton unearthed in the Arizona desert, a father and his daughter decide to remove it from the burial grounds for further study. Once they do so, they, as well as the town, are besieged by a colony of gargoyles living in some nearby caverns.
A professor, Dr. Boley, who studies the occult (to mostly debunk it and sell books) is in Arizona on a trip to study legends from the region. His daughter joins him, and together they drive out to meet an old man who says he has made a discovery, which turns out to be the skeleton of some strange winged creature. At first Boley is dismissive, but after the building is attacked, the old man killed, and his car is disabled he suspects that something strange is going on. It seems that Demons (Gargoyles) have begun to hatch and are trying to remain hidden until their numbers are great enough to attack the human race. It is up to Dr. Boley and the residents of the local small town to do battle with the Demons, who also have taken Boley’s daughter hostage.
Acting is not credible; the characters behave very dierently when confronted with the monsters in between their attacks, going into a pile and slowly lead the conversation about global, who are interested in the history of their origin, works of art, hard left images of winged gargoyles… It’s distracting from the total potassium of the story about a small town trapped in the danger with the invasion of bloodthirsty creatures, where people are forced to carry an unequal struggle with them, often redia in their ranks.
But in addition to “cons”, there are “pros”.
Perhaps particularly pleased with the composition of the plot, where there will be not any only one monster to terrorize people, and as many as several dozen. And don’t knock simple as makeup and costumes are gargoyles, and approached them properly, however, mostly in terms of unique goals. The same monsters almost never make it with wool, then the green lizards, with feathers, horns, beak, grotesque semblance of a human face, not ugly animal muzzle, cruise, Hiking…
Ground-breaking Religio-Apocolyptic Horror
In 1972, the sixties were over, the flower child days having been killed off by the Rolling Stones at Altamont, or by the Manson Family at LA, or by the National Guard at Kent State. America was tired, scared, and hung-over and the hippies were devolving.... either into apolitical burn-outs, or, worse-yet, Jesus-freaks.
The Jesus-Christ-Superstar fad eventually inspired a more Bible-oriented type of horror movie. Also, as a traumatized America turned more and more toward to the Christian Bible, more and more people indulged in Apolcolyptic thinking...the Book of Revelations being filled with lurid and horrifying images, and with ambiguous prophecies such as would allow a reader from any time or place to believe that he was truly living in the End of Days.
The clever writer of this film combined a bit of Biblical mythology, plus Miltonic concepts, and medieval demonology to create a set of very original and effective monsters. The opening of this film has Vic Perrin (greatest scifi/horror voice ever!) narrate this mix of mythology, adding a new bit about every 500 years or so the gargoyles returning to plague the human race. The spooky Perrin intro is played over a montage of medieval gargoyles from Gothic Cathedrals, plus demonic images by Hieronymus Bosch and Peter Bruegel.
A year after this film, the big budget 'The Exorcist' was released, which lead to 'The Omen' and sequels, 'Carrie,' and 'Amityville Horror'...all horror films with strong religio-Biblical elements and themes. Eventually, this sub-genre morphed into the execrable 'Left Behind' books and videos. But this film beat them all to the punch.
Considering the time, budget and technological constraints, this is actually a finely made and very original little horror film. The cast is up to the task, and there are no bad performances...weak moments in the script are dealt with quickly, so the audience doesn't get much time to notice them.
Cornell Wilde, whose career was rapidly fading in his rear-view mirror, does a good job here and the director wisely had the lovely Jennifer Salt wearing halter tops throughout the film. Ahhh, but I am nostalgic for the days when women still had natural bodies and halter tops were in fashion! The Gargoyle Supreme Commander make-up for Bernie Casey is excellent, and Vic Perrin's voice-over is great. The supporting gargoyles are all very good as well.
In classic 1970's style, the gargoyles are battled by youth riding dirt bikes and grown-ups riding Off-Road Vehicle's. In true American fashion, fossil fuels are the main weapon to stave off the apocalypse. We now know, with the benefit of hindsight, that a real apocalypse, either ecological, economic, or a combination, is the most likely result of our faith in fossil fuels. But that's the upside of the Biblical Apocalypse...it frees you from worrying about real problems.
Surprise Monster Movie
Gargoyles was a big surprise when I first saw it. I had no idea what the film was about when I saw the TV commercial. I was around 12 years old and it was broadcast on CBS.
I noticed quality about the film from the start. Good direction, acting, locations, and that was before Bernie Casey showed up in that gargoyle suit! That was scary as heck and not only that, Casey put more in that character than in any monster I've seen since Karloff and to this day. I wish they'd made a Gargoyles II that expanded on the story.
How the director got as much out of that film as he did given the budget is beyond me. The makeup and costumes were revolutionary and although we're not talking Cecil B. Demille epic here, the direction left enough up to our imagination to truly terrify us.
Cornel Wilde as the professor, you can't beat that kind of talent. Jennifer Salt, the foxy Jennifer Salt, portrayed complexity and wasn't a run, fall, scream monster movie hottie, she had intellect going on there. Seeing Scott Glenn as a biker proved out as his talent has become legendary as well. Historically speaking Gargoyles is a must see, must have film. It changed many ways that Hollywood makes movies. Even with the boo boos like cars changing make and model in mid shot, the concept of the menace of the Gargoyles was enough to fire up the imagination which great works do.
The animated TV series I suppose was based loosely on the movie. However the menace and majesty of the movie remains untouched. Only the Alien has turned out to be as cool a monster as Bernie Casey's Gargoyle. The scene where Casey as the Gargoyle swats his female gargoyle on the butt to get her to go tend to the eggs was a kick.
Gargoyles, the original, get it.
t still makes me think when driving alone with a window down on dark roads!
The "Gargolyles" was and will always be one of my all time favorite horror movies. So many of my friends haven't even heard of the movie! What a shame! The old time special effects were scary as all **** to me as a little girl, and I love the "cheese factor" of them now. Although, the gargoyle costumes are still some of the greatest. I haven't seen the movie since way back then, even though I'm an avid horror/sci-fi movie fan. It was on a great local television station here in Pittsburgh, Pa. on a Saturday night on a program called "Chiller Theater" that aired weekly. Hopefully some of you have had the privilege of viewing old horror movies on "Chiller Theater". I knew "Gargoyles" was old, and I'm hoping this is the same one I obsess about on occasion. I could never find the DVD in local stores, so I'm gonna order it online and hopefully enjoy the old classic, from the great gargoyle costumes, the eggs hatching in the caves, to the spectacular (ha, ha) flying scenes of the gargoyles in the desert. One scene that stuck with me as a kid , and I still think about it randomly at night driving down dark backroads in my Jeep is, when one of the gargoyles landed on the moving car out in the desert. That scene still makes me roll up my car windows when I'm alone at night on a dark road. So, no matter how cheap the effects were, the scare factor was great enough to stick with me all these years, I'm, 40 now! I'm gonna walk my dog now, I'll keep an eye on the woods!!
One of the scariest movies ever!
As a child, I twice tried to stay up late at night to watch this movie. And twice I was too scared to get through it! It struck a primal fear, similar to "Jaws". As an adult, it wasn't quite as effective, as I prepared myself for it, and I watched it during the daytime! The first half hour is still great to watch, as it builds the tension relentlessly. The mythology is a powerful undercurrent. This movie started a lifelong love of monster movies. The images remind me of John Milton's "Paradise Lost" , with all that epic poem's gothic, demonic power and majesty.
Fantastic Horror From the 70's
I have to give Gargoyles an 8/10. To me it was very well done. The story was timed at a great pace, and it's got established actors and some that would see greater projects later. Cornel Wilde plays the smart scientist who stumbles across the Gargoyles who are getting ready to hatch and spread throughout the world; now if that isn't cool for a 70's TV movie, I don't know what is. This is not your typical TV fare, and it wasn't designed to play to an A Team audience where no one dies. What really sells it now to me is Scott Glenn, man does he have a great final moment and I always remembered that from first watching this as a kid. If the egg scene in Alien (or was it Aliens?) wasn't influenced in some way by Glenn's scene I'd be surprised. I showed this on DVD to my family one night and no one got up to do the dishes or other stuff during the movie, thats saying a lot, they all loved it! And if you want it to, it will scare you; not everyone gets out alive which makes a great horror flick in my book (and I'm not talking red shirt Star Trek types, I'm talking high billing). Highly recommended, great as a double feature with "Killdozer" (another 70's TV horror fave of mine).
good scary movie
I happen to be watching a 2004 Michael Pare movie called "Gargoyles" (the very handsome Pare hasn't aged particularly well). The main reason I have it on is the very fond memory of a TV movie of the same name from 1972. I sure remember its scaring me and it was well-done. It must have been because I remember it well 33 years later. It has well-known actor Cornel Wilde (best remembered for a great movie "Naked Prey")and the very pretty Jennifer Salt. "Dark Shadows" is a cult favorite and ones of its players (Grayson Hall; an Oscar and Golden Globe nominee)is in the movie. If you get a chance to see it and enjoy being frightened I recommend this movie very highly.
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