Today at The Clinton: Thursday, Apr 17

The Loreley's Grasp

The Loreley's Grasp

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Brought to you by our friends at Dorado Films.

LAS GARRAS DE LORELEI (THE LORELEY'S GRASP) was released theatrically in the U.S. during the late 1970s under the title WHEN THE SCREAMING STOPS. In a William Castle-esque move, the film was re-edited to include a blood red screen that would flash moments before any scene deemed too shocking to those with weak constitutions. To further drive home the film’s scandalous content, vomit bags where handed out to each ticket holder warning them that “Because of the intense nature of this film, stomach distress may occur,” followed by the warning "Do not re-use." While you may not find yourself sick to your stomach, you will certainly be entertained as director Amando de Ossorio has laid out a tale full of violent bloodletting, buxom young beauties and mythical creatures come to life.

The Loreley's Grasp
Director: 
Amando de Ossorio
Country: 
Spain
Year: 
1976
Runtime: 
85 minutes

The community of a small German village is shocked when one of their own, a beautiful young woman (Betsabe Ruiz), is found brutally murdered on the eve of her wedding night, her heart torn from her bosom. After laying the poor soul to rest, the townsfolk gather at a local pub to discuss what manner of creature could have caused such a heinous act. While the idea of a rogue wolf or forest bear are tossed around, it is the childhood recollections of a blind street musician that seem to fit most appropriately, the legend of the Loreley. According to the legend of the seven full moons, the beautiful maiden Loreley will take the form of a hideous beast. Her only goal; to take the hearts of people that are required to sustain her centuries of sleep. The blind man’s story is passed off as myth but the town folk are scared nonetheless, especially Elke Ackerman (Silvia Tortosa, HORROR EXPRESS) a professor at the nearby boarding school for girls.

With the girls’ school so far away from town, it is agreed that extra precautions should be taken to ensure the students’ safety, so local hunter Sirgurd (Tony Kendall, RETURN OF THE BLIND DEAD) is hired to track and kill the accursed beast. Upon his arrival to the school, Sirgurd is welcomed by a bevy of bikini clad beauties who are all thrilled to have a man in their midst. All except for Elke, who is averse to Sirgurd’s charm and fears his presence may do more harm than good. Sirgurd quickly finds his hands full as each morning reveals a new victim, each missing their heart. Banned from swimming with the girls, Sirgurd frequents a nearby marsh where he uncovers a mysterious woman in a tiny black bikini (Helga Line, HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB). Running away at their first encounter, the two final meet and are instantly attracted to each other. As their encounters become more physical, Sirgurd learns that he may have unwittingly caught the creature he was hired to destroy, but will his heart allow him to complete the task at hand?

THE LORELEY'S GRASP is distinctive in that it takes the traditional trappings of a “beast on the loose” plotline and intertwines it with German folklore, specifically the fairy tale of the Loreley. Legend states that Loreley was a jilted lover who took her life on the Rhine river, returning as a mythical siren whose call would draw sailors to a deadly fate. If the legendary Loreley resembled Helga Line, the actress who portrays her, her enchanting voice would not be the only thing tempting sailors from their charted paths. Helga is an arresting screen presence, whose slow motion, scantily clad romps through the village marshes, stands as one of the film’s more memorable and bizarre moments. For a movie brimming with attractive women, it would seem hard work for any one actress to stand out, yet Silvia Tortosa seems to do just that. Perhaps it is the fact that she remains relatively fully clothed in a film otherwise populated with young woman in various arrays of undress, which is a pity. Or it could be the transformation of her character as a reserved, almost prudish school teacher, into a woman beginning to embrace her femininity in the presence of Sirgurd’s rugged machismo. Either way her appeal is unforgettable.

Shot primarily in shaky POV, the Loreley’s killings are erratic and unexpected, as if to mimic the attack of a wild animal. Initially only the creatures encroaching hand is shown, but as more of the legend of Loreley is revealed, so is her lunar form, that of a green scaled reptilian, shrouded in a black cape. Filmed in the middle of his succession of successful Blind Dead films, THE LORELEY'S GRASP allowed Amando de Ossorio to take a break from undead Templar Knights and explore other elements of horror and fantasy. Amando must have had a particular affinity for leopard print bikinis (who doesn’t), as the film's third act features a memorable and random cat fight with three young ladies in the underwater cave of the Loreley. Their relevance to the plot is never explained but their inclusion is nevertheless welcomed.

Jason McElreath

Special Admission

$5