Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Amando de Ossorio's The Loreley's Grasp (1974)

The negligee, below the chin but above the breasts, of the would-be bride, who gets a nighttime caller at her window, flows scantily in the light around her body. A touching scene: the groom must get one more glimpse of his love before tomorrow's wedding. Alas, the green, rubber-suited Loreley, who rips the sheer fabric and lovely torso of the would-be bride in order to eat her heart ends any wedding plans to substitute rush funeral ones. The Loreley is a German legend (?), who comes upon the shore from the river, after her sleep for centuries during the full moon, to consume the hearts of the unwilling, in the form of gorgeous beauty, Helga Line, before returning to her slumber in her den under the water, where she guards the gold of Woton. This is real cinema, people, from an old school master filmmaker, loosening up in the liberal 70s to deliver a camp horror classic: Amando de Ossorio's The Loreley's Grasp (1974).
A blind musician tells the tale of the Loreley to quite the crowd in the pub. They won't listen, because it's just a legend. It must be a wild beast who killed the unsuspecting bride. Enter gorgeous Elke (Silvia Tortosa) with a tight bun and the serious and stereotypical headmistress outfit on. Outside the village, the all-girls' school fears for their safety from the wild beast. Who will come to their rescue? Enter my main man, Sigurd (Tony Kendall), and dig those threads, baby. He's a young, suave hunter, who's going to protect the swooning schoolgirls. Elke, unfortunately, is as tight as her bun, because she doesn't like Sigurd's brash, arrogant manner. The schoolgirls really dig Sigurd, though, and love to wink and blow kisses from their windows down to him on the grounds at bedtime (in a precious scene). Another young female gets her heart ripped out by the Loreley and the blind musician gets torn to bits, as well. Elke won't let Sigurd swim in the pool with the girls, so he goes out to swim in the marsh. A dazzling beauty is seen on the shore line in a bikini, and when she glimpses Sigurd, she prances away through the forest. Sigurd meets a mad crazy scientist in the forest, also, who is working on a way to destroy the Loreley. Sigurd still doesn't believe in the legend; however, when he finally enters the lair of the bikini-clad beauty, whose name is Loreley, and becomes enamored with her charm and beauty, Sigurd thinks maybe something's up. Sigurd's heart becomes torn not from the Loreley's ferocious claws but by her seductive innocence and his burgeoning love for Elke, who has let her hair down a little, and even steals a glance from her bedroom window.Amando de Ossorio has crafted a horror film with The Loreley's Grasp that has all the camp charm of a 60s Batman episode combined with the mostly risque but sometimes overt nudity of more liberal 70s cinema. Not liberal enough for Women's Lib, however, as the story and characterizations are out of the 30s and 40s. The Loreley's Grasp has everything: horror, science fiction, romance, comedy, action, and adventure, more like an old time serial or comic book. The gore, especially the wince-inducing heart-ripping scenes, are the most modern aspects of the film (save maybe the threads). All of the films that I've seen from de Ossorio have that odd mix of romantic sentimentalism and modern depictions of gore and flesh: Malenka (1969), Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971), Night of the Sorcerers (1973), The Return of the Evil Dead (1973), The Ghost Galleon (1974), Night of the Seagulls (1975), and The Possessed (1975). Amando de Ossorio was in his mid-fifties by the time he made The Loreley's Grasp, so perhaps he was mixing a blend of his favorite childhood stories in a market that was increasingly demanding more gore and nudity.The real treasure of The Loreley's Grasp is Helga Line. Absolutely radiant and charming as the titular character, this is by far my favorite performance by her. The scene where she confronts the mad scientist in his lab with her muscular, whip-wielding assistant, Alberic (Luis Barboo) is standout for its old school, camp flavor. Line is also amazingly seductive and charming in her scenes with Kendall, and in fact, all of Line's scenes would be worth the price of admission alone. Tony Kendall, who worked previously with de Ossorio on his excellent The Return of the Evil Dead, gives a penultimate machismo performance. Kendall, like Line, delivers his performance with camp serious but also with tinges that he is having a tremendous amount of fun with the whole goings on. Finally, Silvia Tortosa's Elke is a terrific foil to Kendall, and their romantic relationship has all the flair of a fairy tale. Tortosa plays the strict German headmistress/airy young lover role with a lot of enthusiasm and fun. The Loreley's Grasp is not a film for the seriously uptight and rigid but for the adventure seekers who like comic books and rubber-suited monsters. I truly wish that I could see a matinee feature today that is this much fun. Treat yourselves, see it.

8 comments:

Rev. Phantom said...

This one sounds like a trip. I will definitely check it out.

Samuel Wilson said...

A copy of this has been sitting in a shelf at the local Best Buy for months. Your review and clips bring me closer to finally picking it up.

Erich Kuersten said...

Wow, This film looks great. I can't believe I haven't even seen this awesome site in so long... "campy ala Batman" is all I needed to know... any Bava-esque colored gel lighting and I'm there. And I'm here, too, as your site is as quiet and cool as its name implieth.

Aaron said...

Wow, I've never even heard of this movie, but I definitely plan on checking it out like ASAP. It sounds pretty awesome. Trust me Hans, I'm taking note and plan on referring to the Quite Cool list of recommendations the next time I go ape-shit with my credit card on Amazon. Keep the great reviews coming.

Hans A. said...

Rev. and Samuel, thnx for reading and commenting. I'd love to hear both of your takes on this camp classic.

Erich, thnx so much for the kind words. I really appreciate them. I checked out your site, as well, and it's quite impressive.

Aaron, thanks, also bro for the kind words and support. I'm happy to contribute to consumer debt in a faltering economy.:) However, I think that you can get this one on disc pretty cheap (Amazon has the single disc at $4.90 and double feature w/Naschy's Horror Rises from the Tomb for $7.13).

I've been crazy busy, as I assume most of y'all have been, but, again, I really appreciate all of you taking the time to read and comment.

Carl (ILHM) said...

Ive been wanting to see this one for a while but was waiting for it to drop in price. Consider the review more motivation!

وليدالجنتل said...

nice the movie evry much

وليدالجنتل said...

nice the movie i liked