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Gargoyles (1972)

In Gargoyles, An anthropologist and his daughter disturb a monster’s skeleton in Mexico. But the surviving monsters want their friends’ skeleton back

Gargoyles (1972) starring Cornel Wilde, Jennifer Salt, Grayson Hall, Bernie Casey

Bernie Casey as the leader of the Gargoyles
Bernie Casey as the leader of the Gargoyles

Gargoyles is a made-for-TV movie from the 70’s that has an enjoyable cast, good makeup and sets, which combine to make an enjoyable movie. It’s not a classic by any means, but it’s definitely enjoyable. Apparently, the gargoyles awake from hibernation every 600 years or so, and try to tke over the planet. But since humans breed like rabbits, we’ve defeated them in the past by sheer numbers. But they’re determined … and vicious.

Gargoyle at the foot of the bed … still scary
Gargoyle at the foot of the bed … still scary at this point

I have to say, I enjoy the gargoyles at the beginning of the movie better. No insult meant to the wonderful makeup by Stan Winston & Milt Rice. The unknown is simply more frightening. At the beginning of the movie, we see a large winged shadow watching as the protagonists’ car drives by. When Uncle Willy’s shack is destroyed, we see little of the creatures doing the destruction. And when they attack the fleeing car, it’s appropriately frightening. When we finally see the men in costumes, the illusion’s broken.

Cast of characters

  • Dr. Mercer Boley (Cornel Wilde, The Greatest Show on Earth). College professor and author, who picks up his daughter at the airport. Along the way, he stops by Uncle Willy’s shack of curiosities, and (disbelievingly) sees a gargoyle skeleton. After Uncle Willie’s killed by the gargoyles, he takes the gargoyle skull and escapes with his daughter. They’re later attacked by live gargoyles, trying to retrieve the skull. And one of them is killed by a semi truck when crossing the road. And Boley won’t give that up either, or tell the authorities what’s going on.
  • Diana Boley (Jennifer Salt, Soap). Mercer’s daughter who gets caught up in all this. She’s eventually kidnapped by the gargoyles themselves.
  • Mrs. Parks (Grayson Hall, House of Dark Shadows). The owner of the motel that the Boleys stay at. She clearly has a drinking problem, and is attracted to Dr. Boley. But that doesn’t mean she won’t through them out after a gargoyle attack … Which the Boleys try to pass off as a family squabble. Seriously.
  • Chief Gargoyle (Bernie Casey, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure). The leader of the small group of gargoyles. They apparently awake every 600 years & try to overthrow humanity. According to the voice-over at the beginning of the movie, they’re Satan’s offspring, but there’s no sign of that in the movie. He (his character’s unnamed) kidnaps Diana to teach them about the world.
  • Uncle Willie (Woody Chambliss, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band). The likable desert rat who runs a tourist trap, but has actually found a gargoyle skeleton.
  • Police Chief (William Stevens, Gold Raiders). Stereotypical police chief who arrests a gang of motorcycle riders for Uncle Willy’s murder, without any evidence. Only to use them later.
  • James Reeger (Scott Glenn). Likable biker.
  • Jesse (John Gruber). Likable deputy with common sense.

Editorial review of Gargoyles courtesy of Amazon.com

Uncle Willie showing off his authentic gargoyle skeleton in his museum of oddities
Uncle Willie showing off his authentic gargoyle skeleton in his museum of oddities. Rest in peace.

A terrifying tale of ancient evil unfolds as an anthropologist and his daughter battle to save the earth from being taken over by a clan of grotesque demon like Gargoyles. Award winning special effects by Stan Winston that brought you Jurassic Park and Terminator II & Milt Rice that did Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Stars Cornel Wilde & Jennifer Salt. 74 minutes/color/1972