A REAL AND RARE TREAT! Here are some short GIFS taken from some very rare behind the scenes footage taken during the making of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee's 1964 Hammer film Classic, THE GORGON. Director Terence Fisher had a real job on his hands. The script was fine and had the making of an original horror / romantic / thriller. The key to the drama was a creature that lived holed up in Castle Borski, who on certain evenings took to meeting visitors, not with a warm welcome, but a STARE that turned them into stone! The creature was Megaera, long thought to be a fantasy of Greek mythology. Not only was she real, but she also had a dual appearance and personality. This no doubt suited actress Barbara Shelley, who played the meek and sensitive Karl Hoffman, Megaera's 'other side', as whoever was to appear as Megaera, would have to endure a few weeks of experiments and painful head-dresses, while make up men and props department Roy Ashton and Phil Leakey tired to solve the problem of producing a convincing Gorgon, who floated on air, while snakes wriggled and writhed on her head! No easy, with such a small budget!
ABOVE we see actress and classical dancer, Prundence Hyman, who stepped up for the role. Fisher believed that someone who could move with grace, like a dancer, would be best suited for the role. Prudence had worked in film, theatre and ballet for many years and had almost retired from her long and quite distinguished career.But she rose to the challenge. Here we see make up artist fit Prudence with Haptic contact lenses, a make up device that Roy was probably if not certainly responsible for bringing into horror films at this time, his first use was in Hammer's 'The Curse of Frankenstein', it was another first in bringing together Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee on screen.
AFTER MANY EXPERIMENTS the solution of using a series of strings and pulleys, all controlled through a cable to a crank box, was used to make the snakes twitch! The head device weighed seven pounds, and was worn under the wild and thick black wig, much like a crash helmet! It took some rigging, was not reliable and took several takes to 'do its thing' on command, after the Gorgon floated on casters into shot, over a floor of thick dry ice. ABOVE here is Hammer's Phil Leakey carrying the crank box, Prudence marches from the make up room at Bray studios, and down the stairs to the castle set, carrying the cabling over her shoulder, ready for her '...Close Up, Mr Fisher!'
ABOVE ON THE SET Prudence Hymen hits her mark,the crew turn the cranks on the box, the snakes twitch, the wind blows and she makes her exit, not walking forward, but keeps her balance, even with the weight on her head as she is pulled backwards over the floor of the Castle Borski set at Bray studios . .. and CUT!
PETER CUSHING IN COSTUME and Christopher Lee out, both on set at Bray studios, during the making of Hammer films, 'THE GORGON'
FINALLY, HERES IS Hammer films make up artist Roy Ashton in some VERY rare footage in his make up room at Bray studios, demonstrating some 'fangs' he made for a particular Baron, who was the only vamp to have actually got his fangs into Peter Cushing's Vampire Hunter, Van Helsing . .!