Gargoyles (1972)



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Movie Info

Incorporating themes from horror films of both the '50s and the '70s, this suspenseful TV movie stars Cornel Wilde and Jennifer Salt as an archaeologist and his daughter, who discover a strange skull on display at a roadside tourist trap. After the museum owner is killed during an attack from an unseen foe, the pair are subsequently pursued across the American Southwest by a tribe of humanoid creatures that bear a striking resemblance to the gargoyles of myth, leading to a manic game of cat-and-mouse across the desert. This enjoyably spooky film essentially riffs on this one-note premise for over 70 minutes -- sort of an inversion of Night of the Living Dead's claustrophobic scenario -- and fortunately comes off quite well thanks to superb use of the desert locations, an eerie score, uniformly good performances, and Emmy award-winning monster costumes from Stan Winston. A young Scott Glenn appears as a roguish biker who throws in with the good guys after taking a shine to the professor's daughter.


Cornel Wilde
as Dr. Mercer Boley
Jennifer Salt
as Diana Boley
Scott Glenn
as James Reeger
Bernie Casey
as The Gargoyle
Grayson Hall
as Mrs. Parks
Richard Moll
as Goliath
Woodrow Chambliss
as General Storekeeper
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Critic Reviews for Gargoyles

All Critics (5)

Really neat monsters in a bland story.

Feb 7, 2003 | Rating: 3/5

OK TV movie of the week. Nothing too special here.

Aug 15, 2002 | Rating: 2/5

Audience Reviews for Gargoyles


Two things really show how old this movie is, firstly it was made way way back in 1972 before I was born and way way before fancy special effects. Secondly its actually a TV movie so straight away that limits the feature big time...did I mention 1972? Yep this is some real small fry American TV drama here folks. A paleontologist and his daughter travel to a remote shack where some old bloke shows them the skeleton of an ancient hellspawn, a demon. These demons are more commonly known as gargoyles on Earth, waiting to take over mankind for Satan...naturally. Now this area has been infested with reports of these demons for ages, since the era of Native American settlements apparently. Yet despite that no one has ever seen them in this area, but the minute the good paleontologist and his sweet innocent daughter turn up they start attacking the run down shack where the old bloke lives. The reason for this is the gargoyles are after the skeleton of their own kind for some reason...but they decide to do so when these outsiders are around. In the aftermath of this attack the old fella buys the farm and the couples car is torn up badly. Yet again despite all that happens the duo take it oh so calmly. They aren't too bothered about the old guy getting killed and burned to a crisp, they don't report anything until the next day! and they aren't even bothered about the fact they were attacked by big scaly monsters. Hell even the gas station guy doesn't really question the damage...he'll just get it fixed by the next day!! I guess the funny thing is these creatures have been living in the caves near this town for centuries yet no one knows of them or believes the duo...yet these things go out in broad daylight and fly around!! wut?! No one has ever gone near these huge caves apparently and no one has ever seen the gargoyles hanging around on the rocks as they do...ever. The acting isn't particularly bad or anything its just the plot and direction is rather comical and things don't really add up. I didn't realise demon spawns/gargoyles laid eggs and hatched their young, I would of thought they came up from hell or whatever. This small film did win an Emmy award so I've found out, I'm guessing that was probably for the excellent makeup effects by good old Stan Winston (couldn't be for much else). This is really why I watched this old movie and I'm pretty sure its why everyone else watches it too. The films cover gives the game away unfortunately by showing you Casey in the top notch facial appliances...but I guess that was the films selling point, the focal point. That makeup job by Winston is darn good even today and its just draws you in, you gotta watch it for that. The rest of the suit isn't quite as good, by that I mean you can clearly see its just a rubber suit with covered shoes, hokey rubber fingers, plastic looking wings and obvious creases at the knees and waistline. The rest of the gargoyle horde are all the same in the sense that the faces are great but the rest is hokey, the cringeworthy movements by the extra actors in the suits don't help. I love how they slow down the footage when the gargoyles move into action trying to make them more creepy and heavy looking I 70's. The film is never really scary or creepy at any point truth be told, not too sure if it was meant to be though, it feels more like an extended Twilight Zone episode. The location work is limited and sparse, nothing much in the form of set pieces or anything fancy, its just barren desert/wilderness. There is a car chase sequence which is rather boring because they keep going and going and going just showing the car and motorbike going past the camera at various stages, I swear this was time wasting. I guess back in the day this could of been seen as a shifty dark horror, bit of claret on screen, definitely not for the kids. These days its so very amusing and hammy, so bad its good I guess. The fact that Casey's head gargoyle tells Wilde that he will never escape them or see another human ever again...but then he just runs off and finds his way out of the cave and stumbles across the search party immediately (laugh out loud!). Never really too sure why they kidnap the young girl either, what use to the gargoyles is she? I guess they needed a reason for the male heroes to go gargoyle hunting. The finale where the head gargoyle flies off is another crude funny moment, I shouldn't mock but really...its hilariously terrible looking. Did James Cameron get his finale idea for Ripley flaming the Alien eggs from this little movie? who knows. I definitely think there is a lot of the 1985 movie 'Legend' in this film. The way the young girl is left to wander around the gargoyle caves whilst being quietly observed by Casey. Then finally she stumbles across him as he sits reading from a book looking quite majestic and regal almost. Also many of the camera shots of Casey in his hero gargoyle suit look similar to the way Scott shot Curry as Darkness...if you ask me. I wouldn't say this was a bad (TV) film despite what I've said here and there, its not exactly a great film either...but its sure one hell of a cult film. I really wanted to see this (first time for me) as the cover excited me for those wondrous makeup effects, naturally being a Winston fan. I definitely wasn't disappointed with the makeup work but overall the film was pretty below par, maybe not back in the day but looking back now geez! I didn't know the film was set in the desert and that kinda threw me a bit, that setting doesn't work for the plot methinks. I did enjoy the adult approach and not shying away from blood and the odd scare. At times it did remind me of those old superhero TV movies (Spider-Man, 1977) visually but luckily they didn't go down that route. I was totally in the dark about this, I actually thought this was the precursor idea that led to the animated show Gargoyles during the early 90's (still not too sure). Glad I've seen it and Winston's work (the man was always quality), but end of the day there isn't much else here other than those glorious gargoyle prosthetics.

Phil Hubbs
Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

This creeped me out when it aired on TV. Pretty trippy to see these creatures back then, but now, it's cheesy, but it's a favorite childhood movie of mine. ;) Simple story, but the creepiness of the film still brings back chills back in the day.

Donna Dawson
Donna Dawson

Super Reviewer

I saw this when I was 8 and it scared the crap outta me. Now it's just so-so but it has great FX work by a young Stan Winston.

A.D. Villarreal
A.D. Villarreal

Super Reviewer

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