They're coming for you!
Year of Release: 1972
Running Time: 74 minutes (1:14)
Director: Bill L. Norton
Cornel Wilde ... Dr. Mercer Boley
Jennifer Salt ... Diana Boley
Grayson Hall ... Mrs. Parks
Bernie Casey ... The Gargoyle
Vic Perrin ... The Gargoyle (voice) (uncredited)
Scott Glenn ... James Reeger
William Stevens ... Police Chief
John Gruber ... Jesse
Woody Chambliss ... Uncle Willie
Jim Connell ... Buddy
Mickey Alzola ... Gargoyle
Greg Walker ... Gargoyle
Rock A. Walker ... Gargoyle
A terrifying tale of ancient evil unfolds as anthropologist Mercer Boley and his daughter battle to save the Earth from being taken over by a clan of grotesque demon-like gargoyles they've discovered living in the Arizona desert.
Gargoyles, remindin' us that there aren't enough hours in the day to kegelsize your hoo-ha back into shape when you're layin' eggs the size of a burn barrel. For cryin' out loud, these gargoyle cock pockets've gotta be so wreathed out that even Ron Jeremy'd have to strap a board across his ass to keep from fallin' in. But on the plus side, any guy willin' to go cave divin's gonna get extra credit points for effort on account of the echo makin' it seem like he's doin' twice as much work as he actually is. An speakin' of people who have a hard time makin' bones fit correctly, anthropologists really hate this one. Ain't really the movie's fault, I mean, it didn't do it on purpose, but once all these museum curators saw this one an realized that they could get any senile old desert rat who's had their brains fried like a pile of hash browns at the Flyin' J to put their jumbled skeletons together on the cheap, things kinda got ugly for the anthropology profession. It's pretty pitiful when you get right down to it, the guy here in town who used to do this kinda thing's been reduced to inseminatin' cattle out on Skunky Hernandez' ranch just to make ends meet. For anybody out there who may not know Skunky, he's the only guy I know who wears a clove of garlic around his neck as an air freshener, an between you an me, the guy smells about like the planer saw over at Stumpy's Lumber Mill an Renderin' Plant after runnin' nothin' but piss fir for two weeks. Really is a shame though, but the moment the DVD hit the bargain bin at Walmart it was all over. The grizzled prospectors an raccoon trappers started comin' outta the woodwork til the anthropology profession was more saturated than Skunky's tank top in mid August. It's actually so bad around here that a guy can only make about 88 cents an hour doin' it since there's hardly any demand at all, though I tried it out myself for about a week to make enough cash to pay my taxidermy guy, Cleave Furguson, to cover the dash board in the Topaz with authentic coyote hide. Course, Cleave ain't the sharpest fillet knife in the tackle box an forgot to delouse the hides first, an so there for awhile the Topaz had more fleas in it than a crackhouse hooker's pubic hair an I ended up havin' to set off a coupla those Trunker Buster brand flea bombs inside an kept the windows rolled up for about three days. I don't think I'ma do much more'n dabble in anthropology when I need the extra pocket change though, cause at the end of the day, there's just too much at stake to allow these kinda movies to go unreviewed, but it's still nice to have somethin' to fall back on.
But gettin' back on target here, this one's quite possibly the best made for TV flick in history featuring one of Satan's minions gettin' mowed down by a Mack truck in the Arizona desert ever to grace ABC's movie of the week, an so I jotted down a few things to help keep everybody ahead of the curve the next time we all hafta quit our jobs an fight off a horde of horned guys in latex body suits tryin' to conquer the Earth. No need to thank me, I'm a professional. First, below a certain population, sheriff's offices are actually unequipped to make long distance calls. So anytime there's trouble with gargoyles, graboids, or minorities tryin' to buy beer from the liquor store, you've gotta send somebody all the way out to Dump Canyon or wherever just to find somebody with an MCI Friends an Family plan. Second, addin' subplot or additional dialog scenes to pad your movie is for pussies. If you really wanna drag it out, while actually acknowledgin' that the audience realizes you're paddin' the movie worse'n the bra on a plain Jane Freshman, just put everything in slow motion for about 8 minutes. At least this way everybody's bein' honest with themselves. An third, if you ever find yourself married to a gargoyle (an who among us hasn't?) an she starts gettin' jealous cause you've got a woman over who ain't infested with lice an whose cock dock isn't frequently confused for the Holland Tunnel, just give 'er a firm slap in the ole harpy hiney an tell 'er to get back in the kitchen where she belongs. Seriously, even if you *were* gonna do somethin' morally reprehensible like cheatin', it wouldn't be right next door to the room where alla your unborn siblings're incubatin'. Really awkward, even before considerin' it'd be a complete mood killer.
But what made me breathe a sigh of relief for once after watchin' this one was just how timely Geordi Laforge's reboot of Readin' Rainbow for alla the little yard monsters is. I mean, as human beings, we've at least got a public education system available for anybody that needs to learn their letters an such, while these gargoyles have to kidnap women just to have a shot at gettin' a decent education. An as the movie's openin' exposition explains, it's us against them every 600 years for the right to be the race that completely annihilates everything on the face of the Earth. So it's imperative that now, more than ever, we get alla the small fries the book learnin' they're gonna need to outwit Satan an his minions in the next battle for control of the Earth, which, as I understand it, is gonna be a high stakes, winner take all game of Trivial Pursuit. I'd also like to thank Dubya for the "no child left behind" legislation while I'm thinkin' 'bout it. That guy gets it. Started two completely stupid wars just to throw Satan off balance an make 'im think he was a complete idiot while secretly preparin' the next generation for all out scholastic combat. I don't care if he did more cocaine than Lawrence Taylor an Whitney Houston combined, the man's got it together. An ain't this union nice to see? The Republican party an Starfleet Academy comin' together to unite America's youth for the common cause of bashin' in Big D's superheated skull in a no holds barred battle of wits, to the death, a la Princess Bride. I really think we're finally startin' to come together as a nation here. Does my heart good.
The movie begins with a cameo from God narratin' about how he tossed Big D outta Heaven an onto his fire engine red rear end til he gets 'imself a real job an a decent haircut. Then, once Satan got done screamin' through his rage tears about how nobody understands 'im an how he really was gonna clean up his room just as soon as he was finished with his game of Pac Man, he tells God he'll live to regret this an that one day his gargoyle babies're gonna rule the Earth an he'll be real sorry once that happens cause he's gonna make 'im live under his rules an give 'im a really unfair curfew. Next thing we see, this anthropologist (Mercer) is pickin' up his daughter (Diana) at the airport so they can drive down to Mexico an fart around at Macho Pikachu an check out some old hieroglyphics carved into these ancient cinder blocks that the Aztecs used to prop their cars up on while they changed the oil. Only they accidentally take the wrong road an end up stoppin' at this tourist trap that looks like a future Ruby Ridge site to see the Minnesota Iceman after its tour of the south melted the ice block an left it lookin' more like Vanilla Ice after the hit single money ran out. But once they get inside, Grizzly Adams (Uncle Willie) won't quit badgerin' 'em with pitiful small talk on account of 'im bein' desperately lonely ever since his wife ran off with Keenan Wynn an so they have to pretend like they're gonna leave 'im all alone with nothin' but the flea circus in his beard to keep 'im company til he agrees to show 'em what he's keepin' out in the shack. So once he gets done explain' that his half assed side show woulda been bigger'n the Ripley's museum if those rotten liberals hadn't moved the new freeway construction away from his operation an completely destroyed his lucrative water gougin' business, he shows 'em the skeleton of the Jersey Devil he's got hangin' in his closet. Course, Mercer don't believe 'im an tells 'im he's seen better Halloween props at Wal Mart every August 18th when they start puttin' the decorations out on display an so Willie tells 'im about how the Indians used to tell stories about these devil monsters livin' up in the rocky crags til they eventually had to pack up their teepees an leave town after the monsters paved paradise an put up a parkin' lot. Then Mercer tells 'im that he's dumber'n a bag fulla hammers an that he's just recountin' the Indian wars with Satan standin' in for Custer, but Willie assures 'im the story's legit an that if he'll write a book about 'im he'll split the profits with 'im right down the middle. Only while Mercer's dividin' by zero to figure out what his share'd be, the shack starts jostlin' around like Marilyn Chambers' rack on the Gravitron til the roof caves in on Willie an the place ends up burnin' to the ground like an old growth forest after the hippies chain themselves to it to make sure nobody thins it. So after Mercer heroically grabs the Jersey Devil skull an leaves Willie to roast like a weenie on a spit fire, he an Diana jump in the car an haul butt outta there til Bat Boy lands on the roof of their car an starts bustin' out windows like an irate paperboy.
Eventually they're able to shake 'im off after he momentarily loses his concentration tryin' to simultaneously hang on an eat a half dozen mosquitoes, an make their escape while he's lyin' in the ditch givin' 'em the one finger bat signal. Then they pull into a motel an rent a room from this old broad (Mrs. Parks) who looks like Endora from Bewitched or Lucille Ball after wakin' up face down in the bed of a 1971 Datsun pickup that'd just been used to take lawn clippins to the landfill. The next mornin', Mercer an Diana decide to go tell the cops about Willie, only Mercer says not to mention Bat Boy cause he wants 'em to fill that part in on their own so they'll feel good about solvin' the case themselves, plus this way the conservationists don't have to know about the endangered species sailin' through the air an landin' in a Saguaro cactus patch. So the cops drive 'em out to Willie's place where they find a buncha dirt biker's rootin' through Willie's back issues of National Geographic lookin' for the ones with nekkid natives inside an end up havin' to chase two of 'em through the desert til a coupla tortoises try crossin' the old two track an the bikers end up wipin' harder'n an obsessive compulsive before a proctology appointment. Course, Diana don't want the cops to bust 'em cause she an Billy Joel know they didn't start the fire, only she can't offer any better solution an so the cops haul 'em in for wanton destruction of a coupla antique Coke bottles that got run over in the chase. Later on, Diana's P.O.'d at Mercer for lettin' 'em all play The Fall Guy like Lee Majors an he tells 'er he'll get 'em outta there just as soon as he can get some real proof that Bat Boy's alive an well an hookey bobbin' on toppa 1969 Chevy Camaros. But later that night, Mercer hasta get up after I Love Loosey's continental supper starts causin' an incontinental rectal reaction, when all the sudden these two Black Lagoon residents bust into the motel room, loot the skull, an take off for the border like Thelma & Louise til they forget to look both ways crossin' the highway an one of 'em gets turned into ground schmuck in the grille of a Peterbilt. Then Mercer hauls what's left of it back to the motel room an tells Diana that it's a gargoyle an that they're a seriously invasive species that musta migrated over from the rooftops of European cathedrals. But about that time, I Love Boozy starts bangin' on the door demandin' to know what in the name of Desi Arnaz's fiery fists of felonious fury's goin' on an Diana tells 'er that Mercer just had to sling 'er up against the wall like a spaghetti noodle cause he found out she's datin' a negro an that everything's fine now. Then Diana sneaks over to the police station to see how quickly jail causes a man to resort to homosexuality an tells the Hell's Antiquers not to worry 'bout nothin' cause she's got just about everything she needs to pin the fire on Goliath an his flunkies.
So about that time, she tries sneakin' back into the motel room like a coupla saggy women in their 50s who found out where White Snake was stayin' after performin' at a Dave an Buster's, only Mercer's waitin' for 'er an before he can even ground 'er til she's in 'er late 40s they get swarmed by a pack of demons in latex gimp suits an just barely make it inside before they can solicit Diana to paddle their hineys. Fortunately, by the time they're able to break through the door with a missile dropkick, Mercer an Diana've already tossed their gargoyle corpse in the backseat like a poached white-tail. Only the car won't start, an by now the gargoyles're pretty P.O.'d about havin' to run around dodgin' scorpions an tarantulas at 2 in the AM, an so they flip the car over like the Canucks just lost the Stanley Cup championship game an reclaim their compacted compadre, the spare tire, some old gummy bears they found in the glove box, an Diana before makin' themselves scarcer'n a virgin in a church choir. The next mornin', Lucille Squall brings the cops to Mercer's room an shows 'em the busted-ass door an they're just about to put out an APB on the Kool-Aid man when Mercer walks in an tells 'em about the monsters makin' off with the only daughter he's got that he's claimin' responsibility for an so the cops decide to let The Dirt Bike Kids out in exchange for joinin' their search party an agreein' to show 'em where they can find some wild peyote. Elsewhere, the head gargoyle's wife's real P.O.'d about 'im comin' home late with lipstick on his collar carryin' some bimbo reekin' of Dollar General brand perfume, but fortunately he's a real smooth operator an gives 'er a little smack on the butt an tells 'er to go finish up the dishes before he gets angry an, like most women, she couldn't possibly love 'im anymore than she does at that very moment. Meanwhile, the cops have to send Endora the Truck Stop Whora an the deputy over to the next county to use the pay phone an get the staters down there while everybody else drives around on dirt bikes kickin' up dust til the air quality index meter starts readin' "Tuesday in Beijing." Then the boss with the inverted cross starts makin' Diana read Green Eggs an Ham to 'im so he can learn all that this Dr. Seuss character has to teach about conquerin' humanity cause this particular batch of gargoyles is only about two weeks old an they've gotta learn from man's greatest thinkers about how we operate so they'll be able to kill us off like a red shirt in a Star Trek episode. Back outside, the search party finds the pickup that their gophers were drivin' goin' in circles with a buncha beer swillin' rednecks sportin' Earnhardt t-shirts sittin' around in lawn furniture cheerin' it on, an Endora hangin' upside down on a telephone pole like Batman durin' nap time, resultin' in mosta the bikers takin' off like they just remembered Evel Knievel's signin' autographs over at the bowlin' alley. Then Susan Goyle comes back into the boss's study an tells 'im they've got company outside an he quickly rallies the troops to the cave entrance an makes like Mel Gibson in Braveheart an orders the charge straight into the Barnyard Commandos. Cuttin' here.
This one's fairly ambitious for a made for TV movie, and benefits largely from makeup effects created in part by Stan Winston on his very first movie gig. They're not perfect, and some of them haven't aged that well, but for a 1972 made for TV monster movie, they're damn good. The pacing is pretty decent as well, which can partially be attributed to the short running time, but for a movie of its age it moves along at a reasonable pace, with adequate action sequences sprinkled throughout. It's all the more impressive when you consider the entire movie was shot using only one camera. Heck, they probably used two for the host segments when the movie aired on Creature Features, just to give an idea of how cheap the studio holdin' the purse strings was. Of course, where you really need multiple camera angles is during a critical action sequence where you're planning an explosion, crash, or something similar where you've only got one shot at it and you want it to look as good as possible, and this movie doesn't have any sequences like that, so it doesn't suffer much from having only one camera at their disposal. And just in case you're still not impressed, they shot the entire movie in just 18 days, so I'm impressed even if you're not. Short of some of the stuff Corman made in the 80s, I can't think of too many movies that were shot on such a tight schedule that came out much better than this one. Some of Herschell Gordon Lewis' movies, I suppose, but generally speaking, they did a lot with a little on this one. Additionally, as with a lot of low budget horror movies from this era, you've got little touches that help to bolster its overall worth, such as shooting in Laredo, Texas, an Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico, during some of the hotter months outta the year with the temperature cracking 100 some days. I mean, just look at what the intense heat did for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Hills Have Eyes, it's a miserable son of a bitch to shoot in, but little things like that tend to bring an intangible quality to a movie and it's these little things that tend to boost certain titles up to a level they wouldn't have reached otherwise. Don't get me wrong, it's not on par with either of those two titles, but it does have enough heart that I'll pass it, where a whole lotta other similar titles have failed, so even though it may not be a must-see, even for a monster movie, it's worthy of a certain amount of respect. Strangely enough, this is two weeks in a row where I'm going to approve of the IMDB rating (6.4), and not so strangely, it's because only genuine horror fans have ever seen this thing. It's certainly not terribly obscure, but with only 1300 ratings, you can bet there aren't many people who just happened upon this one on TV one day that aren't at least 35 or older.
Well then, seems like it's about time to run a Mack truck over this thing an see if there's any substance stuck in the grille. The plot is alright, despite the entire backstory being summed up in about 35 seconds at the beginning of the movie via narration. It's also rather strange that the authority figures accept the gargoyle story so quickly and implicitly, which incidentally, violates the rules of a horror movie pretty severely cause the cops are never supposed to believe/show up until it's too late to do anything. But that's alright. I think they also forgot to have an exposition scene as to why somebody was having to drive to get help, logic dictates the phone was out, but I certainly don't recall hearing that explained. Otherwise, not bad, and no farther out there than Jason Voorhees comin' back from the dead 8 times, though I'd like to know what laid the gargoyle eggs, cause not even Jennifer Lopez has hips wide enough to birth those things. The acting is very much what you'd expect from a 1970s TV movie. Kinda dull, with nothing even approaching a stand out performance. But that said, nobody gives a bad performance, the whole movie just seems a little phoned in on the acting front. Incidentally, Bernie Casey, who played the head gargoyle, had all of his lines dubbed in because apparently his speaking voice didn't fit the character. Kinda wondering if it has anything to do with the fact that his skin color didn't fit in at the Klan rally. But that's just conjecture, for all I know he may sound like Tiny Tim, which would be a legitimate issue. Here's who matters and why: Jennifer Salt (Sisters 1973), Bernie Casey (Vegas Vampires, In the Mouth of Madness, Amazon Women on the Moon, Ants, "Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde"), Scott Glenn (Slaughter of the Innocents, Silence of the Lambs, The Keep), Woody Chambliss (The Devil's Rain, Glen and Randa), Jim Connell (Wizards 1977), Mickey Alzola (The Dark 1979), Greg Walker (The Lord of the Rings 1978), Rock A. Walker (Ghost Warriors), Vic Perrin (The UFO Incident, One Million Years B.C.). Because this was a made for TV movie, there's probably more credits for the normals to relate to than genre fans, and they are as follows. Jennifer Salt played Eunice Tate on Soap, and Annie in Midnight Cowboy, though these days she mostly produces for TV. Grayson Hall was Julia Collins in the Dark Shadows TV series, Bernie Casey was John Slade in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka and U.N. Jefferson in the Revenge of the Nerds series, Scott Glenn has played Ezra Kramer in the Bourne series, Roger in Training Day, Bart Mancuso in The Hunt for Red October, and Emmett in Silverado, and Vic Perrin has done all kinda voice acting work from the Control Voice in the original Outer Limits TV series to stuff like The Smurfs. So the acting is adequate, if forgettable.
The special effects, though dated, are the high point. The closer shots of the lead gargoyle, in this day and age, aren't particularly inspiring. But even so, they're over 40 years old, and aren't what you'd call bad. Lets just say, many of the special effects have no secrets, and that it doesn't take much to see what they did and how they did it to get the look they were after. The less featured gargoyles look a bit better than Bernie Casey's gargoyle, particularly the one voiced by the female actress. Though I'll never understand why they put so much of the gargoyle footage in slow motion, I've read that it was to give them unnatural, jerky movements, but if that's the case, they failed. More likely, in my opinion, was that they watched the dailies in full motion and didn't like what they saw, so they slowed it down to decrease the silliness. That's just a theory, but nothing else makes sense. There's literally about seven minutes of slow motion gargoyle action, and it's nothing short of bizarre. The shooting locations are great. I like outdoor movies, and desert movies tend enjoyable for me, even though the desert isn't exactly exciting to look at. It has more to do with the atmosphere it creates than the idea that the scenery is particularly eye pleasing. Bleak scenery works for horror movies, and the desert is certainly that. Though the scenes shot in Carlsbad Caverns are pretty neat too. Otherwise, you've got a motel room, Uncle Willie's junk shop, and the sheriff's station, with the junk shop being the most interesting of that particular set. The soundtrack is fairly unincredible, and has that made for TV movie sound tailor-made for something that's going to have brief cliffhangers when the movie goes to commercial. The notes I took during the movie kinda tell the tale better than any lengthy dissertation I might come up with, and they include such descriptions as: "car alarm for a riding lawn mower", and "speed glockenspieling." Soundtrack is probably the turd in the punch bowl on this one, though not without at least some redeeming value. Overall, very good for what it is, and decent when given no special treatment. Recommended to fans of monster flicks and anyone that has a any fondness for made for TV horror from the 70s.