by Jonathan Lewis

THE GORGON. Hammer Films, UK, 1964; Columbia Pictures, US, 1964. Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Richard Pasco, Barbara Shelley, Michael Goodliffe, Patrick Troughton. Director: Terence Fisher.

   It seems only fitting to close out my four-part tribute to Christopher Lee with a Hammer film. Even more fitting is a Hammer production in which he co-starred with long time colleague and personal friend, Peter Cushing.

   The Gorgon, a quixotic, not fully realized, attempt to transplant the terrifying Greek mythological female creature into a fictional 19-century century German fantasia, fits the bill.

   Directed by Terence Fisher (The Mummy, Dracula), the movie features Peter Cushing as Dr. Namaroff, an urbane man of science (naturally!) reluctantly investigating a series of bizarre murders in his a small German town. Reluctantly, because he suspects that his lovely female assistant, with whom he is in love, might be behind the murders. Even worse, he believes that she may be possessed with the spirit of the ancient Greek mythological creature known as the Gorgon. Its power: to turn whomever looks at her into stone!

   But the task at stopping the gorgon’s moonlight murder spree can’t be accomplished by the good Dr. Namaroff alone. Enter: the mustachioed Professor Karl Meister of Leipzig (Christopher Lee). He’s brash, forceful, tough as nails, and not willing to take any crap from the local police who’d rather have him abscond back to his university.

   And at the end of the day — or rather, night — it’s up to Professor Meister, silver sword in hand to slay the monster. SPOILER ALERT: When the film ends, it’s Lee’s character, the bold tall man with academic knowledge and physical prowess, that’s left standing. It’s a fitting way to end my tribute to some of Lee’s lesser-known films, don’t you think?