Gargoyle: Wings of Darkness (2004)

Gargoyle: Wings of Darkness (2004)

Once thought banished forever, winged, fire-spitting creatures are resurrected and immediately begin wreaking havoc on a port city.

Once thought banished forever, hideous Gargoyles are resurrected in Romania by a series of earthquakes which release them from their entombed prisons. Two CIA agents sent to Bucharest to negotiate a high-profile kidnapping find themselves stuck in the middle of an end-of-the-world scenario!

 

Gargoyle: Wings of Darkness does exactly what one would expect a low budget production with a blatantly predictable title like this to do – and that is very little apart from having a cool cover box. Best not try and get your expectations up too high for this bad boy as you’ll be sorely disappointed as always. When the box is the biggest selling point of a film, you know you’re in trouble. Funnily enough, I’d assumed that Gargoyle: Wings of Darkness was yet another of the Sci-Fi Channel’s really bog awful monster movies. The fact that it wasn’t made by them shocked me even more than I thought, realising that someone else in the world had started cranking these rubbish third-rate creature features flicks out! Double the onslaught.

Gargoyle: Wings of Darkness runs like clockwork from the very beginning. You know, a slow progression of sightings and incidents involving the gargoyles before someone finally realise they have a problem and decide to do something about it. There’s the back story to kick the film off, with the gargoyles being banished from Romania by the peasants and then it fast forwards to the future where the kidnapping transaction is taking place. You’d think this kidnap would lead somewhere and you’re right, but it doesn’t lead to what you’d think. For a completely random moment, a gargoyle swoops down from the sky and takes one of the kidnappers into the air with it. No explanation as to why or how the gargoyle has come to be. I guess you just accept what is happening because the film is called Gargoyle: Wings of Darkness and damnit, I want to see gargoyles! I don’t need to have explanations – I just need the creatures to kill people.

There is something to be said about CGI and that it is the scourge of monster movies the world over. Long before the days of computer animation, what did this type of film use as their monsters? Either stop motion (pretty rare though for a horror flick), a man in a suit or just good old fashioned make-up effects and models. That is if the monsters were even feasible to make using these techniques back in the glory days. Back then, the monsters were hidden for as long as possible, sometimes to the favour of the film that it didn’t reveal its cards too early. Now, any schmuck with a camera and a computer can create a monster and bounce it around the set. Gargoyle: Wings of Darkness is no exception. This would be pretty hard to make using the old methods and you’d have seen very little of the monster if it were possible back then. But now we get them whizzing around the screen and growling at the camera a lot. Because they think they can do what they want on their computers, they forget that the creatures look terrible. It’d be like making the film the old-fashioned way and forgetting to hide the cardboard monster because it looks poo. CGI in these low budget films is, on the whole, a pile of absolute crap. Unconvincing monsters don’t help these films in the slightest but no one is getting the message and they keep churning them out. The gargoyles here look pretty crappy although there is one neat moment where one starts ripping through a cage to get to its victim.

The cast do a pretty good job here and it’s nice to see for a change. Michael Paré isn’t that bad in the lead role and Sandra Hess is attractive enough to make me forget she’s supposed to be a CIA agent. Most of the other actors are just Romanian extras. It was shot on the cheap in Romania using cast and crew so expect lots of Eastern European guys hanging around the camera.

Jim Wynorski, responsible for a slew of cheap and cheerful flicks like Chopping Mall and Sorority House Massacre II, tries his best with the material but after seeing his previous work, I wasn’t expecting a miracle. And I wasn’t surprised. Scratch up another one to his list. He keeps the film flowing though and it’s never overly boring or silly. It’s just hampered by a constant lack of budget and an over-reliance on a poor monster.

 

At the end of the day, these films rely on the quality of their monsters and when this fails, the film flops. Gargoyle: Wings of Darkness is no exception to the rule. It’s got a good pace and doesn’t really drag at any point of the film. But the gargoyles look terrible and you’re too busy laughing to really care about the seriousness of the film.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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