Loreley's Grasp, The (US - DVD R1)
Gabe won't date any more scaly green women with giant claws that eat hearts...
A creepy town by the Rhine River is plagued by some kind of monster that comes in the night and tears nubile young ladies to pieces. The town’s girl’s boarding school hires an experienced and handsome hunter to stand guard and stop the creature. During his investigation, the hunter discovers an ancient Germanic myth that tells the story of a siren-like being—the Loreley—that takes the form of a beautiful woman during the day, and requires human hearts for food by night.
Like so many horror fans, my first introduction to director Amando De Ossorio was Tombs of the Blind Dead, a moody, pre- Dawn of the Dead zombie film like none other. Despite a slightly bawdy lesbian lovemaking sequence and a low budget, Blind Dead was a classy piece of old fashion filmmaking, and had I ended my personal journey with the director there, I may’ve been fooled into thinking he was a classy kind of guy. Several years and several low class thrillers later and I finally see Ossorio for what he really is—a trash merchant with a good eye for spooky.
The Loreley’s Grasp is a much more successful film than the last Ossorio flick I reviewed for BCI Eclipse, Night of the Sorcerers. Sorcerers was entertaining in an Ed Woodian way, its general ineptitude being its greatest asset. This time I find myself watching a real movie, with real characters, half decent acting (the leads are genuinely affecting), and a few impressively moody shots. The plots of the two films, along with all the other Ossorio flicks I’ve seen, are comparable in their basic weaknesses (almost none of it makes sense if you stop to think about it too long), but Loreley’s Grasp has enough momentum to keep most viewers entertained. The dialogue, especially that concerning the science of the Loreley phenomenon, is particularly goofy, but in an entertaining way.
Exploitation fans should get their fill of sex and violence, though there is a slight innocence to the trashier moments. The naked girls are all shot like pin-ups rather than porn stars, and the gore, though more intense than I was expecting, is pretty tame. Some of the bargain basement special effects are effective in their way, specifically the time-lapse mutation of a severed hand. The title creature looks better than most low budget monsters, though the gore effects are sub-Fulci. Ossorio has his gothic and ‘70s swinger appeal down, and handles the monster attack scenes with a shot of style, but he has no concept of how to shoot action, which hobbles a few sequences. It’s not fully successful, but you could do a whole lot worse.
Like I said in my Horror Rises from the Tomb review, it’s great to see these films, no matter how bad or good they may be, in clean and clear widescreen. This transfer isn’t BCI Eclipses finest hour, but there’s very little to realistically complain about. Under-lit outdoor scenes are pretty dirty, but the overall grain and dirt levels are quite clean. Brighter scenes are very colourful, and the colours rarely bleed or exhibit too much noise. Sharpness has been cranked a bit to high causing some edge enhancement and bumping up the contrast levels a little too high in some shots.
Again, the English dub track contains a slightly better mix than the original Castilian track, which is a little too harsh. The Dolby Digital Mono sound is clean, reasonably warm, and almost entirely without distortion. The balance of sound effects, dialogue, and music is sometimes a bit maddening, but general fidelity is more satisfying than I’ve come to expect from older, low budget productions, though there are a few instances of dropout and some unintended echo. Anton Garcia’s soundtrack is very impressive, and effectively haunting. The composer’s use of different styles and instruments is something often missing from Spanish productions in the era (the Italians almost always beat the Spaniards in the realms of movie music), and both the English and Castilian tracks serve it well.
There’s not much here besides the feature film, just a trailer, the alternate Spanish language credits, an entertaining still gallery, and more of those thrilling and informative Mirek Lipinski liner notes.
The Loreley’s Grasp isn’t an earth-shatterer, but it’s good fun for fans of grade-A trash. Fans of director Amando De Ossorio’s Blind Dead film series will eat it up, and even Euro-horror laymen will get a few chuckles out of the boobs and gore. The film’s greatest asset is a genuine sense of the romantic, and a few performances that go far above and beyond the usual for shoestring exploitation. It’s all the fun of Night of the Sorcerers with fewer calories.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 13th November 2007
Disc Type: Single side, single layer
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono Castilian
Extras: Alternate Credits, Trailer, Stills, Liner Notes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Amando De Ossorio
Cast: Tony Kendall, Helga Liné, Sylvia Tortosa
Length: 85 minutes
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