It took ages for this made-for-TV creature feature to arrive on DVD, but it did. And with zero fanfare, to boot. Released in 1972, Gargoyles has secured a favorable reputation in horror circles, especially on the net. I couldn't wait to watch it. Gargoyles (the demons themselves, not the film) are cool specters rich in mythos, yet there aren't many films that mine the potential of said beasts. Why not? I mean, think about it...slate phantoms carved in stone, perched atop a shady cityscape, roused by nightfall...the possibilities are endless. Don't get me wrong; I love the cartoon. But I want more live-action scares that revolve around gargoyles.
I suppose that this film will have to do for now. Quite frankly, it didn't meet my expectations. That's what happens when hype snowballs into a smothering furor with a mind of its own. I don't hate Gargoyles, though. It's hard to hate a cheesy, absent-minded time-waster like this. The plot sends a scientist out into the desert to conduct interviews for a book he is writing on superstition. His daughter tags along, and before you know it, they are being assaulted by gargoyles. That's it. That's Gargoyles. There is barely enough story here to cover the 74-minute running time. It ends so abruptly, it seemed as if we fast-forwarded through the exposition.
Obviously, the pace is hypersonic. The script doesn't give you a chance to become restless at any point. So boredom isn't a problem. The problem is that if Gargoyles was a person, it would be an anorexic cokehead. As much as I dug the titular fiends, I never figured out what they were trying to accomplish or how a desert in the middle of nowhere factored into their plan. They weren't very intimidating either (they can be killed with one shot to the...body). The ending is completely nonsensical, but I'll refrain from spoiling it for you. You would have to see it to appreciate its inanity anyway. "Inanity" is a stupid word.
It probably sounds like I despised this flick, but again, I would have to be a real asshole not to have fun with it on some level. The special effects are dandy. A young Stan Winston contributed to the design of the gargoyles, and I'll admit that they look creepy in certain scenes. This would have made for a fantastic episode of The Outer Limits. For what it's worth, Gargoyles works as a low-budget curiosity, but if you go in assuming that you have unearthed a lost classic, you might be let down.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 10:34 PM