DRACONIS BLACKTHORNE (dblackthorne) wrote,

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{VII A.S. Directed by Bill L. Norton. Starring Cornel Wilde, Jennifer Salt, Grayson Hall, Bernie Casey}

This film has remained in the recesses of My evocative contemplation since I first saw it some dark and dreary night upon a horror movie showcase, and has remained an occasional viewing pleasure.

Dr. Mercer Boley, an Anthropologist studying Demonology and cryptozoology decides to vacation in the desert of the American Southwest, taking his daughter Diana with him and come upon "Uncle Willie's Desert Museum" set up for tourists, which includes a rattle snake, bull skull, various baubles and indian bric-a-brac, but the real interest is back in the shed, wherein he preserves a supposed gargoyle skeleton excavated by his own hand. Suddenly, the entire shed is shaken apart accompanied by bestial cries, and "Uncle Willie" {played by Woody Chambliss, whom you will recognize as the dottering 'John' from 'The Devil's Rain'} is crushed in the fallout. The shed bursts into flames, as Boley and Diana barely escape the destruction, whereupon travelling to the next destination later that evening, are beset upon by a reptilian creature from out of the darkness. Bit by bit, these demonic creatures reveal themselves in an attempt to retrieve the desecrated remains of their fallen brethren, until finally kidnapping Diana and taking her back to their caverns, where she gains favor and receives the curious advances of the King Gargoyle.

The splendid Grayson Hall {'Dr. Julia Hoffman' from Dark Shadows} plays a 'Mrs. Parks' - motel manager and alcoholic spinster who is too soon literally strung up on a telephone pole by the gargoyles as a warning and decleration of war. Subtle shades of Vlad Tepes there.

With the sloppy aid of some dirt bike riders, the local yokel 'police' attempt to battle these subterranian dwellers, who desire to take over the world of man and make it their own. In the past, they seemingly attempted to co-exist, but humans became too antagonistic and killed off their kind at every opportunity, based on fear and ignorance. So now, with the rebirth of The Gargoyle King, they have remained within labyrinthine dwellings until the time when they were plentiful in number, to rise and conquor. Unfortunately, many precious eggs were immmolated during the battle.

The costumes are impressive, with each character maintaining his or her own seperate identity, from scaled to hairy variations, from beaked to reptilian. I found the main Gargoyle to be quite remarkable, as a veritable Satan archetype even comparable to Legend's 'Lord Darkness'. They also each have personalities and voices, modes of expression and sentiment, which was a delightful turn from the usual sole grunting and hissing, which is only just a part of themselves. One of the female gargoyles actually becomes jealous at the attention Diana is receiving from the King Gargoyle, so she leads Dr. Boley directly to their location.

I would have liked to have seen more from these characters, and would look forward to any reproductions. This film does suprisingly well on such a condensed budget, mostly utilizing the naturally eerie environment and sense of suspense during several well done lambent scenes wherein they emerge from the shadows, with long claws, gleaming fangs, piercing eyes, thrusting horns, and fanged rictus. This film could have just as easily been named "Demons", and remains an all-time favorite.


Tags: spechtreum. film review

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