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Gargoyles (1972)

DVD Cover (Hen's Tooth Video)
Genres:
Chase Movie, Creature Film, Horror
Director:
Bill Norton Bill Norton
Starring:
Cornel Wilde Cornel Wilde
Jennifer Salt Jennifer Salt
Grayson Hall Grayson Hall
Bernie Casey Bernie Casey
Scott Glenn Scott Glenn

6.3 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: April 25, 2007
If you grew up in the 1980's, you likely remember "Gargoyles". It was always coming on TBS or USA, or one of those late night horror shows that featured what they considered to be cheesy monster pics from the 1960's and the 1970's. And, I suppose "Gargoyles" falls under the category of 'Cheesy Monster Pic'. However, I remember seeing this film all the time when I was growing up. I remember loving every single second of it, and was crushed when it stopped airing. I don't know what happened to it. It just disappeared into the the vaults of film history. Alas, much to my amazement, I just found it for $5.00 at a rummage sale and picked it up immediately. The DVD was released in 2000, so it's not the best quality, but it is better than nothing.

The film tells the story of an anthropologist (Cornel Wilde) and his daughter (Jennifer Salt) as they travel through Southwest and accidentally stumble upon a colony of monstrous gargoyles. After a strange skeleton is unearthed, the father and daughter take it from the burial site for further examination, and that's when the legion of gargoyles descend upon the small desert town. Released to TV in 1972, this film was not so much a horror film as a throwback to the 1950's drive-in monster pics, like "Them" and "The Blob". The gargoyles are monstrous, yes, but they really only want to be left alone by human civilization. The film also serves as sort of a political statement for the times, with Vietnam still around. The gargoyles kind of mirror most American sentiment towards Americans leaving the Vietnamese alone. Amazing to think "Gargoyles" was a political horror film.

The premise of this film was also copied by lots of other films. "Tremors", "Bats", "Critters" -- just about all of these films borrow heavily from "Gargoyles", though the idea of a small town plagued by monsters is not a new one and has been around for years. A lot of horror directors have admitted to "Gargoyles" being a huge influence on them, as directors -- and this was one of the most well-crafted horror films to premiere on television, at the time. Stars Cornel Wilde and Jennifer Salt were unknowns, as was most of the cast, and Scott Glenn is really the only noticeable star, though he wouldn't achieve real success for a long time afterwards. This was just the perfect example of a small little film becoming a cult classic thanks to great writing, direction and make-up. The film actually won Best Achievement In Make-Up at the 1973 Emmy Awards, a fine achievement indeed.

So, if you grew up in the 1980's, you probably remember "Gargoyles", though you might not remember the name or much about it, other than the Technicolor monsters, the scenes where the gargoyles rejoice at the baby gargoyle being born with wings, etc. I am ecstatic that I was able to find this film on DVD, and really doubt it will see another release. I would not be surprised to see a remake come along some time soon. "Gargoyles" is one of the most memorable monster flicks from the 1970's that took on a new popularity in the 1980's, then disappeared into obscurity in the 1990's and beyond. It was one of the best things to come out of TBS during that time, and made frequent appearances on USA Up All Night, a sorely missed classic. Check this one out if and when you can. It might re-spark some memories. 9/10.
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