“Gargoyles” (1972) was a fairly corny made-for-television creature feature that’s still remembered fondly by a lot of older horror fans. Despite its predictably campy nature, this weak-premised ABC Movie-of-the-Week just … inexplicably worked. There are still people today who comment about how badly this scared them when they were kids. It didn’t exactly terrify me when I saw it rebroadcast in the 1980’s, but I definitely found it pretty thrilling when I was in the second grade or so.
I think that there are a few elements of this apocalyptic monster flick that combined to make it effective — at least for impressionable youngsters. The first was its garish costuming by Thomas S. Dawson; the film’s eponymous monsters looked kitsch, but nonetheless creepy. The second was the movie’s sound editing — the bad guys’ grunts and electronically distorted voices could get under your skin. The third was film’s dark, desert setting, and the fourth was director Bill L. Norton’s choice to film the attack sequences in trippy, 70’s-tastic slow motion.
Don’t get me wrong — I don’t think that “Gargoyles” is frightening by today’s standards. But back in the day, it was unusually good for a made-for-TV horror film. (You can find the entire movie for free on Youtube if you want to see for yourself.)
Postscript — that is indeed a young Scott Glenn in the trailer as one of the movie’s heroes.