THE LORELEY'S GRASP
Spain | 1974
Directed by Amando de Ossorio
Starring
Tony Kendall
Helga Liné

Silvia Tortosa
Color
| 85 Minutes | Not Rated
Format: DVD(R1 - NTSC)
BCI/Deimos Entertainment
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Guest Review by Troy Howarth
A series of gruesome murders, in which women are found with their hearts torn out, are linked to a horrible mythological creature known as the Loreley...
   
Though he is best remembered for his quartet of Blind Dead films, Spanish writer/director Amando de Ossorio also made a number of other forays into the realm of horror and fantasy. The Loreley's Grasp is one of his subtler works and, indeed, compared to the visceral and erotic impact of other Spanish genre films of the period, it looks very tame indeed. This is not exactly a problem, however, in that its tone fits what is very much a fable or fairy tale on film.
    De Ossorio does a nice job building mood and atmosphere, though his screenplay lacks for interesting characters and dramatic conflict. The protagonist a swaggering hunter played by Euro-Cult standby Luciano Stella, again acting under his nom de plume, "Tony Kendall" (The Whip and the Body) is singularly dull and colorless, while the titular creature, who adopts the bewitching guise of Helga Liné (Horror Rises from the Tomb) in its more 'normal' moments, lacks any meaningful development. The fact that the Loreley falls for such a superficial jerk never really convinces: it's pure formula, and the audience knows it.
    Despite these deficiencies in the writing, the director still creates enough potent set-pieces to keep the audience interested. Gore is pushed somewhat during the heart-ripping sequences, but in terms of erotica, the film is strictly PG-level. Fans of the delectable Ms. Liné will be disappointed by this, no doubt, but she still creates a memorable impression in various skimpy outfits and languid poses.
    Technical credits are generally solid, though the monster makeup tends to look rubbery and unconvincing. De Ossorio sensibly keeps the creature hidden as much as possible, but when it does rear its ugly head the effect leans towards unintentional comedy. Even so, the moody cinematography and striking locales combine to create an enticing atmosphere and if the film is lacking in terms of incident, it never becomes intolerably tedious. Compared to the director's other genre films, it lacks the impact of the Blind Dead films or even the goofy charm of Night of the Sorcerers, but taken on its own it's a reasonably endearing slice of European cult cinema.

BCI/Deimos' release of The Loreley's Grasp is another gem in their ongoing collection of Spanish horror cinema. With so much attention having been lavished on even the lesser extremes of Italian horror and fantasy, BCI/Deimos is to be commended for affording these Spanish films such lavish care and attention. The 1.85/16x9/high definition transfer looks terrific: sharp, colorful and free of distracting print defects. Some grain is evident, but this is a result of the original cinematography. The film is presented fully uncut, though unlike some of the other Spanish horror releases, this doesn't yield any new material; as indicated above, this is pretty tame stuff. Audio options include a crudely dubbed English track, as well as the original Castillian track with optional English subtitles. The latter track is clearly preferable, even if the subtitles themselves suffer from being presented as black lettering with white borders an awkward choice that takes some getting used to. That said, both tracks are in good condition, with minimal hissing and the like. Extras include a theatrical trailer, the original Spanish credits sequences, a still gallery and informative liner notes by Mirek Lipinski, webmaster of Latarnia.com. 1/19/08
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