Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Gargoyles"(1972)d/Bill L. Norton

Tonight's review HAD to be next,'cuz,quite frankly,last night I think I needed Fathers Karras and Merrin to douse me liberally with blessed H2O.I apologize to anyone who may have crossed paths with me in the temporary throes of a pure evil and mean spirited altered state,and wouldn't be at all surprised to hear of sprouting horns,talons,and leathery scales,although I'm pretty sure wings were out of the question,as I most certainly would have flapped off to some middle-European bar stool to wreak havok until the sun came up,spewing obscenities that would have made Pazuzu feel shy and introverted.I think I crouched stonefaced on a corner of the roof at one point.In other words,another good night,indeed!
That tonight's review won Ellis Burman,Jr. and Stan Winston a daytime Emmy for makeup effects kinda boggles my mind now,though back in the early to mid-seventies,you'd never convince me there was ever anything cooler than this low budget made-for-tv exercise in horror.Looking back at it now,it's pretty much just a laughable,rubbery ball of suck.Calling the flying effect in the finale inept is like saying men have a tendency to wear their pants a lot higher once they reach retirement age.The gargoyles themselves kinda resemble what you'd dream up for a Broadway musical called "Lizards".Hey,Chamel-o-neezer's about to sing,"My eyes obey Listing's Law!"Yeah,maybe I'm being a little hard on the guys,especially knowing what heights their careers reached after this,but I'm gonna have to call this one like I see it.The gargoyles are probably the low point in the otherwise enjoyable romp.You unoriginal Hollywood bastards wanna stop counting your money and give something back to the community who paid off your Lamborghini?Remake this,with KNB at the effects helm,and do it some justice.Or would that make too much sense to you?You don't have to answer that,I already know.
"You think you've got skeletons in your closet!" exclaims Uncle Willie(Woody Chambliss).
Diana Boley(Salt)steps off a plane in the southwest,handing off a demonic sculpture to her father,the anthropologist,Mercer Boley(Cornell Wilde),who likes to drive around and debunk the same superstitious myths that carved him his television career.This time around,the father-daughter team have a rendezvous with an old drunk named Uncle Willie(Chambliss),who runs a roadside sideshow,and claims to possess something that'll knock the Doc's socks right the fuck off.Boley immediately slags off the old man's intact skeleton of a large humanoid creature with wings,beak,and horns as an elaborate hoax,but humors him while he booze-soakeningly recalls the Indian legends surrounding the strange beings who've lived for centuries in the rock formations throughout the canyon,into Boley's tape recorder.Before Willie can spit out the word Nakatakachinko another thirty-five times,something large flaps down upon the roof of his shack and begins to tear it asunder,killing the old wino,and setting the place on fire,but not before the Boleys can grab the gargoyle scale and make for the station wagon.Nice.Let the old man eat crashing I beam,flame-lapping death,but at least you scored your knick-knack.As the two drive off into the desert night,something familiarly large flaps down on top of their vehicle and tries to get in,though they somehow manage to escape to the safety of...the police headquarters?A hospital?The national guard?A motel.The next day when they return to the burned out hull of Willie's shack with the sheriff,they find a group of longhaired young dirtbikers,led by Jim(Scott Glenn),just peeling out and doing wheelies in the old man's ashes.You know,they weren't doing anything,officer.
None of you rubbery bastards thought to pull the ties loose on Diana's(Jennifer Salt)groovy wraparound?
One obligatory police cruiser v dirtbikes chase later,the sheriff nicks the dustbowl daredevils on suspicion of Willie's murder,with Diana aptly protesting their incarceration,and un-groovy oppression of you know,young people and stuff.Dr. Boley,on the other hand,is more interested in winged demons in the desert than dirtbags in bellbottoms,and when a couple of lesser 'goyles break in to the Boleys' motel room and steal back the skull of their ancestor,one gets laid the fuck out by a semi,which keeps on driving,even after hitting a man-sized bipedal lizard walking on the road,because,those twenty-five pallets of Mighty Dog puppy gruel aren't gonna drive themselves to Piscataway,you know.Boley ganks the dead 'goyle carcass,incurring the wrath of the HGIC(Bernie Casey),a winged,horned son of a gun that don't take noooo kinda slack,Jack.Gar-Bernie and his 'goyle gang descend upon the motel in dramatic slo-mo,and gank back their dead homie,and the provocatively seventies-tastic Diana to boot.At Gar-Bernie's crib,Diana is added to his stable of bitches,who get sassed at and slave over big-assed gargoyle eggs all de live long day,being forced to read to him with her pleasing ummm,voice tch tch tch tch.Mercer,out one piece of demised anthropological gargoyle evidence and one sexy daughter,has a change of heart,and convinces the sheriff to free the dirtbag dirtbikers for one massive frontal attack upon Gargoyle-ville,taking no prisoners.The police and bikers wipe out all but Gar-Bernie and his main scaly ho,rescuing Diana from a life of indentured serpent-ude,and watching as the last of the gargoyles break the fuck out like heat rash.The end?
"Tell me,Diana...tch tch tch tch...Stephanie Meyer gets paid to write these things? tch tch tch"
Getting back to potential remakes for a second,couldn't you see Samuel L. motherfuckin' Jackson reprising the Bernie Casey role?"You earfly mothafuckas think you alone down here??Nahhhhh,de gargoyles rulin' up in dis bitch!We from HAYULL!"I dunno.It's a thought.Casey scored himself genre roles in fare like Cleopatra Jones,the incredible Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde,and made-for-tv ant-valanche It Happened at Lakewood Manor,and continues to break it down to this very day.The lovely Salt found success on televion's Soap later in the decade,while Glenn went on work in Apocalpyse Now,More American Graffiti,and genre classic,The Keep.Ellis Burman did effects on Empire of the Ants,Prophecy,and The Devil's Rain,before moving to Star Trek's makeup work,while his partner here,the late Stan Winston,did EVERYTHING.I shouldn't have to fill in the blanks for you about him.Director Norton has had a long career in television,finally realizing how to keep himself out of the shot.Gargoyles flaps down into the canyon in slow motion,making off with two wops on the rating scale.Good times.
With the grace of a Nerf football with a chunk taken out of it,the last of the gargoyles flap awkwardly to safety in the shadows of the director against the rock face.


stonerphonic said...

looks hella cheap, hella sweet, and Jennifer Salt damn sure looks like a treat.

my kinda movie BW...

beedubelhue said...

Glad to hear it,Stoner.Thanks for the woids!


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