The Gorgon

In a new series of articles 'The bloke down the pub' will tell us all about his favourite Hammer Horror films. In his second weekly ramble he's in an inquisitive frame of mind about The Gorgon from 1964. Enjoy!

You reach a certain age in your life where you want to stop asking questions, my son, take it from me. Look at all those villages at the foot of a castle in Hammer films. As long as you keep your trap shut, your head down and your nose buried in the froth of a beer or a barmaid’s bosom, you’ll be just fine. But don’t go swanning about with your spotless suits from the big city asking questions, mark my words. Even if you find yourself in a village being tormented by a Gorgon and those questions pertain to how exactly is my son guilty of turning someone into stone, and how would that even work? Even if your only question is – why isn’t anyone asking any questions?

And it’s also no good asking questions like – what the bloody hell is an ancient Greek monster doing cropping up once a month in the dusty entrance hall of an abandoned castle in central Europe? And why does she just stand there? What, not to put too fine a point on it, is her game exactly?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure standing on top of a ruined staircase staring, quite literally, murderously at anyone that should happen by your spooky abandoned castle has its philosophical and maybe even metaphysical merits, but if you’ve slogged your way all the way from Greece and lived thousands of years wouldn’t your horizons be a little, I don’t know, broader?

And don’t even start on – how is everyone acting like this is an impossible monster to kill when how to kill this particular monster has been part of myth for exactly as long as the bleeding monster? We found about the monster at the same time we found out how to kill it! All you need is a Greek bloke, a polished shield and a dirty great sword and Bob’s your uncle!

And sometimes it’s no good expecting Peter Cushing to save the day, much as it breaks my heart to say. After all, there are always your basic moral grey areas, especially where birds are concerned. And even though you’d expect Peter Cushing to be above all that somehow, well there he is, acting shifty and obviously not being definitely evil, but also pretty clearly telling porky pies and slinking about in a way that doesn’t immediately reassure you that Pete’s got any intention of saving anyone’s day but his quite frankly.

No, forget about questions, my son. You want to enjoy things. Things like:

Christopher Lee’s bushy eyebrows and mad scientist hair and how much he’s clearly enjoying bursting into rooms and shouting at people in a ‘buck your ideas up!’ sort of a way, or how you don’t know what Cushing’s game is for so long – when was the last time you didn’t know whether Cushing was good or evil right a-bloody-way?, or how a bloke who’s been turned to stone by a gorgon has got time to run home and write a letter, or the frightened and frightening policemen’s caped outfits and waxed moustaches, or how the snakes on the gorgon’s head really do bloody move and that can’t have been easy to do let’s face it, or one of the best final fights in a horror movie ever because the two poor deluded sods dueling to the death with a sword and a lampstand are fighting for the love of a woman they both know is a monster! Not a woman they suspect a bit maybe, possibly, every full moon turns into a hideous creature… they know! They know for a nailed on, racing certainty that the woman they are giving every last ounce of themselves for in a fight to the death is a terrible, horrible, disgusting monster.

It’s quite sad when you think about it. Which you can if you like. Just don’t ask any questions. Except of course - Another pint?

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