My big brother was doing babysitting duty that night with me and didn't seem to mind the movie so I guess it wasn't that bad. He'd watched worse with me in those days before the VCR and only one TV in the house. I also remember the next morning at school asking my third grade teacher if she'd seen it. She was horrified, first saying she didn't watch such movies, and then that I shouldn't be up so late.
Such movies were my kind of thing though. Raised on "Dark Shadows" and "Thriller" and Dr. Shock, this was my kind of movie even if it wasn't Mrs. Scott's. And there were enough of my friends in class who also watched it - they were also the ones who had Aurora monster models and liked Alice Cooper, if that says anything. Nevertheless when I saw coming attractions for Gargoyles!, I knew I'd want to see it and planned for it appropriately.
YouTube, but I most recently saw it on MeTV's Svengoolie. Like the aforementioned Dr. Shock, Svengoolie, played by Rich Koz, is one of dozens of horror movie hosts across the country. Svengoolie, the second to go under that name has been enjoying national success for some time now on the nostalgia network. Sometimes he's annoying but usually has lots of good info on the flicks. He's truly a movie fan, and that's really appreciated.
Now all that said, Gargoyles! is actually a pretty darn good horror film, both typical of its time and yet better than most. The flick is scary as well, one wonders how I slept that night back in the day. It also features early work by Stan Winston which won him his first Emmy. Most frightening of all is the make-up work on Bernie Casey, former football player and character actor, who plays the lead gargoyle. That is one scary dude. And it was written by Stephen and Elinor Karpf who also wrote the camp horror classic Devil Dog: Hound from Hell!
The premise has Hollywood leading man Cornel Wilde in his twilight years as an anthropologist/demonology/writer Professor Boley and Jennifer Salt as his daughter Diana who stumble upon a colony of these emerging gargoyles. This was the first place I ever saw Wilde, so even his finest roles bring the Oscar nominee back to Gargoyles! for me. Salt mesmerized me in Brian DePalma's Sisters and has done amazing work behind the scenes on "Nip/Tuck" and "American Horror Story" so for me, she's not all just this. And she's rocking those halter tops. Together they are perfect 1970s protagonists for this horror film.
The Desert Museum is a tourist trap, full of crap, but old Uncle Willie (played by Woody Chambliss, a TV western regular who was also in another horror classic of the time, The Devil's Rain) does have something of value for the professor. After nightfall he takes them out to his barn and shows them a gargoyle skeleton. Boley disbelieves at first but listens to Willie's tales of demons at war with the Native Americans.
Dad and daughter get a motel room while their car gets repaired. The motel is run by Grayson Hall of the aforementioned "Dark Shadows." She plays a lush who always has a drink in her hand, which is funny as she was frequently rumored to be drinking on the set of the soap and blowing her lines. At least here it's in the script.
Stick in "Daredevil" and soon "The Defenders." A real young Scott Glenn. Later on he has one of the movie best and most memorable lines, "one of them gar things is gonna get her," and he's not talking about the Podcast either.
Eventually the gargoyles attack and steal back the skull, moving in crazy scary slow motion, and featuring the one very frightening scene of the gargoyle looking over the end of the bed - a major reason I never watched this flick late at night in bed. When a gargoyle is killed by a hit and run truck, Boley takes in the dead body for proof. It's his undoing.
Still, this is where the flick starts to fall apart a bit. Casey, with Vic Perrin's dubbed voice (!), wants Diana to teach him to read, so the gargoyles can get smarter and be on more even ground to fight man. Eggs are hatching and the menfolk are getting a posse together, so time is dear. The movie spirals downward from there.
Gargoyles! is still a great horror flick, even all these years later, and even with the obviously cheap special effects. It's a piece of my childhood, and still scares the crap outta me. Recommended, but don't watch alone, or in the dark.