Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rare TV Flix: Gargoyles (1972)

No Brooklyn, Bronx, Hudson, Broadway, Lexington or Goliath here.  Instead, let me talk about the 1972 TV Movie of the same name- Gargoyles.  The film was notable in its day for having good suit design- courtesy of Stan Winston- and for the people behind it.  Some of them are still notable for good reasons- like Cornel Wilde- and some of them not so much- the Writers made Terror in the Sky, the film Parodied wholesale in Airplane!- today.  The Story is both stock and odd- a weird blend.  The way the whole Story plays out is pretty standard and doesn't deviate too much from the norm.  The weird part is the explanation for the events and why they play out.  Curious?  The plot involves the titular Gargoyles being awakened and wreaking havoc in  New Mexico.  Not to be 'State Racist,' but this looks just like the areas shot for The Norliss Tapes.  California, New Mexico- same difference.  To find out why this may be worth revisiting in 2014, read on...
The film begins with silly narration and paintings shown in Haxan.  The Story- Gargoyles are Demons/Fallen Angels who have been fought throughout the Ages.  No, really.

In the Present (of 1972), we have forgotten about these wars (who was in charge of recording them?!?) and thought of the creatures as just art.
A young lady arrives in New Mexico to meet her Father, a man who writes Horror Novels.  Still think that my Norliss Tapes reference was silly?

This is probably ONLY me, but I got nervous watching this tarmac footage.  I kept expecting Jim Jones' men to shoot it up (which came 6 years later).
The pair go to a man's house and see what he is trying to sell them: a freaky skeleton!
They question the authenticity of this until something attacks the shed.  They flee as the man dies and get a visitor on their hood.

I remember when this was a mini-game in Spider-Man 2.  Good times.
The Police find the wreckage and investigate.  Since they don't believe in monsters, they blame it on some Bikers.  Among the Bikers is...Scott Glenn.  Random!
The Gargoyles attack again the next night to get the stolen skeleton back.  Weirdly, their scenes are all shot in Slow-Motion.

The creatures do well, taking out the dad, taking the skeleton and taking the daughter to boot!  Why not?
The daughter- who would go to write Nip/Tuck!- learns that the lead Gargoyle can talk and that his people are planning another attack on the surface world.  They are born every 100 years or so and try to conquer.
The dad and the Police- joined by the Bikers- go on the offensive and the Gargoyles are more than happy to join them in battle!
The dad manages to get to his daughter and do something clever- which I won't SPOIL- to assure victory...for now.  Sequel bait?  Really?  Okay then.

On the plus side, the lead Gargoyle can fly like Bruce Lee!  The End.
You will believe that a Gargoyle can fly!  This whole thing is truly the kind of silly that only the 1970s could bring us.  Gargoyles are demons that hibernate in giant eggs (see below!) for centuries and awaken to conquer the human race.  The key thing: they take this 100% seriously.  If this was a Troma film, they would be cracking jokes about stones, eggs or some shit.  If this was a Full Moon film, we'd get them kidnapping blond bimbos to mate with.  If this was an Asylum film, they would be bad CG models that were somehow related to Global Warming.  This is a 1970s TV Movie though, so this shit is 'real' and completely-natural.  Why would you question this?  I certainly don't.  The big appeal is the suit design by Stan Winston.  By modern standards, they do sometimes look silly.  Having said that, I continue to prefer Practical Effects to CG, so I'm all for this.  Having seen the more recent Gargoyles film with Eric Balfour, I still stand by this statement.  If you go into this film knowing what to expect, you can really enjoy it.  The overuse of Slow Motion is distracting, but not a deal-breaker.  If you can't stand old-school stuff like this, Gargoyles will not change your mind, silly eggs and all...
Next up, a weird 80s film courtesy of my brother.  It is like 'The Jetsons,' but made by H.R. Giger on crack.  Stay tuned...

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