"I am agonized by pains in my chest. I am turning to stone."
In 1910 the rural village of Vandorf has had seven murders in the last five years. Each victim turned to stone. Fear and superstition cause the authorities to look for a simple answer. The latest victim is a young woman who was pregnant by her artist boyfriend. She is found turned to stone and he is found hung. The judge determines that in a fit of rage the boyfriend killed the girl and then committed suicide. Case closed.
The young man’s father, Professor Jules Heitz (Michael Goodliffe), however, disagrees. He had done some investigating and believes there is a Gorgon running loose and it is responsible for the girl’s death. He believes that the Gorgon is Megaera, one of three sisters said to be Gorgons. When Professor Heitz dies mysteriously his only other son Paul (Richard Pasco) goes to Vandorf to find out what happened to his father and his brother. Before he died Professor Heitz wrote a three page letter to his son Paul. Then he turned to stone.
When Paul gets to Vandorf he also starts asking questions. He speaks to Dr. Namaroff (Peter Cushing). Namaroff tries to be brutish and confident but it’s more of a front. Fear drives him more than hubris. He runs the local mental hospital. The doctor is not helpful. At night during a thunderstorm Paul heard something outside. He goes out and sees a reflection of something in the fountain pool. Paul is taken ill for several days. Once he is better and returns to his brothers home. Professor Karl Meister (Sir Christopher Lee) shows up. Professor Meister is an overbearing no nonsense, pompous know-it-all. Just the way we like him. Only with Professor Meister here will things finally be told, fears finally met and mysteries solved.
Hammer Film Productions produced “The Gorgon” in 1964. Directed by Terence Fisher it stars Peter Cushing and Sir Christopher Lee.
The movie is Gothic and quite haunting. The atmosphere is typical Hammer, dark and mysterious. Terence Fisher’s directing is at its usual best. The sets are also magnificent. More a character itself than mere dressing. Lee was not happy with the snakes in Megaera’s head. He believed it diminished the film tremendously. He is credited with saying “The only thing that’s wrong with “The Gorgon” is the Gorgon.” Granted the snakes were bad, but the film still stands tall on its own. According to the movie this Gorgon also comes out during a full moon. I don’t believe Gorgon’s are tied to the same schedule as werewolves.
A Gorgon is one of three sisters who had hair made of living, venomous snakes. They were also hideous to look upon. Anyone who did was turned to stone. While two of the Gorgons were immortal, Stheno and Euryale, the third sister Medusa was not and she was killed by Perseus.
The movie calls the Gorgon Megaera, however, there is no Gorgon named Megaera in Greek mythology. There was a Megaera in the Greek myths, however, she was not a Gorgon she was an Erinye or “Fury”. According to Greek mythology there were three Erinyes, Tisiphone, Alecto, and Megaera. Megaera is the cause of jealousy and envy and punishes those who commit crimes such as infidelity.