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Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Richard Pasco, Barbara Shelley, Michael Goodliffe
Screenplay: John Gilling
Director: Terence Fisher
There are chunks of solid, kitschy entertainment in this Hammer Film Productions horror film, but it’s kind of a mess. In 1910 Vandorf, Germany, folks start winding up not just dead but turned to stone. The first example of this made me laugh out loud as the careless nurse wheels in a corpse with its stony hand hanging out and she bangs the guy’s finger against the table, breaking it off. But the facial makeup as people start to turn to stone is pretty good.
Cushing plays a local scientist who moves very slowly to try to figure out what’s going on, allowing an innocent young man to be convicted of murdering his girlfriend, despite the fact she’s another stony victim. Lee is a professor in bad wig and mustache who isn’t all that important, and a lot of the film is taken up with supporting characters moaning over loved ones and trying unsuccessfully to figure things out. Shelley plays Cushing’s nurse, who doesn’t realize that at night, she turns into the last living Gorgon, which for some reason is named Megara, not Stheno or Euryale.
Screenwriter Gilling had a good career and wrote and directed several films for Hammer, among others, but this is a middling effort. Fisher does fine with the scary/effects-driven scenes, but the story is confused and only an intense Cushing is on his game.