An unfairly neglected gem from the Golden Age of Hammer Horror, The Gorgon is an atmospheric chiller with a sterling cast, an interesting story, plenty of atmosphere and a strong sense of tragedy. It's only let down slightly by some unfortunate special effects choices in depicting the title monster at the climax (Christopher Lee is on record as saying "The only thing wrong with The Gorgon is the gorgon"), but the rest of the film is good enough to overlook these technical lapses.
The film opens in yet another mitt-European burg, Vandorf, with the death of the young daughter of the local innkeeper. Police find her lover, visiting artist Bruno Heitz, hanging from a tree in the woods nearby, and the coroner is quick to claim a verdict of murder/suicide, ignorant of the girl's real cause of death - she was turned to stone. For reasons of his own, Dr. Namaroff (Peter Cushing, in fine icy form), withholds the truth from the court. Bruno's father, Professor Jules Heitz (Michael Goodliffe), protests the court's ruling, and determines to get to the bottom of the case and clear his son's name. He hears tales of an evil creature called the Megaera, mythical sister to Medusa, said to be haunting the ruins of nearby Castle Borski.
Dr. Namaroff warns Prof. Heitz to leave Vandorf before ill befalls him. Angry villagers try to run him out of town, but Heitz is made of sterner stuff. He's no match for the dreaded Megaera, however, and is soon lured to the castle by her siren call to meet his doom. He staggers back to his desk with just enough life left to pen a letter to his remaining son, Paul (Richard Pasco).
Cushing and Barbara Shelley
Paul leaves Leipzig University and soon is following in his father's footsteps. Stonewalled by Dr. Namaroff and Inspector Kanof (Patrick Troughton), Paul soon meets and becomes enchanted with Namaroff's nurse, Carla Hoffman (Barbara Shelley). Their relationship grows even stronger as Carla nurses him back to health when Paul is found outside his flat after a near-fatal attack by the gorgon.
Now prematurely grey-haired from the shock of his attack, Paul is more determined than ever to find out what exactly is going on. He digs up his father's casket and finds his stone corpse. He gets drawn closer and closer to Carla, as the jealous Namaroff and his assistant Ratoff (Jack Watson) keep a watchful eye. Namaroff knows all too well that the Megaera's 2,000 year-old spirit has possessed the body of someone in the village, transforming into its hideous shape and hunting for fresh victims every night when the moon is full.
"There are as many species of vampire as there are beasts of prey. Their methods and motive for attack can vary in a hundred different ways."
"And their means of destruction."
Fun and stylish late period Hammer film from Brian Clemens, one of the main architects of TV's The Avengers, and there's more than a whiff of that great spy show's spirit on hand in Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter.
Something is stalking the young lasses of Durward village and sucking the youth from them, leaving them dying old crones with blood on their lips. Dr. Marcus (John Carlson) suspects a supernatural agency and summons his old army comrade Captain Kronos (Horst Janson). Kronos arrives soon after, accompanied by his hunchbacked assistant, Prof. Heironymus Grost ("What he doesn't know about vampirism wouldn't fill a flea's codpiece.") Along the way, Kronos frees a gypsy girl, Carla (Caroline Munro), from the stocks ("And what crime have you committed?" "I danced on a Sunday") and she joins up with them.
John Carlson as Dr. Marcus
While Kronos mostly sits around smoking cheroots and looking pensive, Grost gets to work, burying dead toads around the woods where the various girls have been attacked. Apparently, if a vampire passes by, the toads will come back to life.
In the meantime, Marcus meets the blond, effete Durward siblings (Shane Briant and Lois Daine) as they visit the graveside of their dead father. Their reclusive mother, Lady Durward (Wanda Ventham) harbors a grudge against Marcus for allowing her husband to die under his care.
Caroline Munro and her "come hither" eyes.
Some ruffians, led by Kerro (Ian Hendry, far overqualified for such a small role) are paid to pick a fight with Kronos in the village tavern, but are no match for his skills with a samurai sword (how and why a former member of the Imperial Guard got ahold of a Japanese katana is never explained). As Kronos and Carla get more intimately acquainted, additional corpses pile up, and Dr. Marcus pays an ill-fated visit to the Durward estate.
This leads to one of the highlights of the film, as Kronos and Grost test various methods on a vampire captive to find out the precise way to kill it. When the traditional stake through the heart doesn't work, they try hanging. Eventually they find it's cold steel that does the trick, which paves the way for a final dramatic sword duel between Kronos and the master vampire in his lair.
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