“Gargoyles” begins with a voice over narration by prolific voice actor Vic Perrin, who, during his career, used his talents in over one hundred and fifty television episodes and films. The narration explains, in part, that once every six hundred years, gargoyles rise up from their slumber to wage war on mankind. The time has come for the gargoyles to once again appear.
Dr. Mercer Boley, portrayed by Oscar nominee Cornel Wilde (A Song to Remember), is an anthropologist and paleontologist who specializes in various aspects of the occult. When the movie begins he has just arrived at an airport in Nevada to pick up his daughter, Diana, who is played by three time Emmy nominee Jennifer Salt (Soap). While driving, Mercer tells Diana that he received a letter from a man called Uncle Willie (Woody Chambliss). Willie runs a roadside tourist attraction and claims in his letter to Mercer that he has something that he believes the doctor would be greatly interested in.
When Mercer and Diana arrive at Uncle Willie’s roadside museum, they can tell right away that the place has seen better days. Willie even speaks to that fact, when he grumbles about how everyone used to stop at his place, but not since the highway was constructed. Mercer is polite, but his patience for conversation unrelated to his purpose for being there prompts him to ask Willie several times to show him what he wrote about in his letter.
Mercer, Diana, and Willie make their way to another building. Once inside, Willie removes a covering from hanging skeletal remains that are definitely not human. Mercer is impressed with the way Willie has reassembled the skeleton which has wings and a head with horns. He does, however, feel that Willie is trying to get one over on him, and he laughs it off. Willie is adamant that the bones are from the remains of a creature he found in the desert. Curious, Mercer decides to listen to Willie’s story about the history of the Native American tribe that once lived in the area and their interactions with the supposed creature. Willie will not get far in his story before the building is attacked by an unseen force, which causes the start of a raging fire.
Fleeing to their car, Mercer and Diana are attacked. They manage to make their way to a motel run by Mrs. Parks, acted by Oscar nominee Grayson Hall (The Night of the Iguana). Mercer and Diana managed to take with them part of the remains of the skeleton. Now, however, the gargoyles, led by their leader (Bernie Casey) want the remains back. They also have other things in mind, especially pertaining to Diana. Mercer gets help from the police chief (William Stevens) and his deputy. Thanks to Diana showing kindness, earlier in the movie, he also gets help from James Reeger (Scott Glenn) the leader of a group of dirt bike riders. Will that be enough to stop the gargoyles? (As an aside: Bernie Casey’s voice was replaced by Vic Perrin’s in post-production, because it was felt that Casey’s voice didn’t go with the character of the leader of the gargoyles).
The television horror movie “Gargoyles” was directed by Bill Norton (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). The teleplay was written by Stephen and Elinor Kraft (Capitol). The movie won an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup. The makeup team that worked on “Gargoyles” was two time Emmy winner Dell Armstrong (Eleanor and Franklin); two time Emmy winner Ellis Birman Jr. (Star Trek: Voyager); and four time Oscar winner Stan Winston (Jurassic Park). The movie premiered on CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) on November 21, 1972.
The makeup, as aforementioned was impressive. The violence shown on screen is, for the most part, implied. There is nothing in the way of gore. The movie, while dated, is no less fun to watch, as long as it’s not taken too seriously.