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Latarnia presents CASTILIAN CRIMSON
The Spanish Horror Film

LAS GARRAS DE LORELEI

THE LORELEI'S GRASP
WHEN THE SCREAMING STOPS

1973

 

Director: Amando de Ossorio
Screenplay: Amando de Ossorio
Music: Anton Garcia Abril
Cast: Helga Line, Tony Kendall, Silvia Tortosa, Josefina Jardin, Loretta (Lolita) Tovar, Luis Barboo, Jose Thelman, Luis Induni, Betsabe Ruiz
Running time: 80 minutes
Eastmancolor ~ Panoramico

   

 

"She will need to devour human hearts to return to her centuries old dream," the blind man tells the pipe smoking mayor (Luis Induni). Big Luis sends for Sirgud (Luciano Stella) who rides around on a motorcycle dressed in a white leisure suit. Better known as Tony Kendall, Stella is the ladies man who carries around his high powered rifle as he makes the rounds. The girls fawn over him as he gives them a little wink.

An absurd mixture of monster movie clichés, mythic pretensions and gore, this flick is nonetheless entertaining shlock. Imagine THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON rewritten by Richard Wagner, a totally schizoid wonderment which at various times evokes Ed Wood and Luis Bunuel.

Lorelei is played by my favorite Euro-genre actress, Helga Line. She had also played a heart ripping flesh devourer in 1972's HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB, and has the ability to play sympathetic characters as well as perverse, evil ones. Lorelei, though, exists in a grey area. 

An anxious bride to be (Betsabe Ruiz) is trying on her bridal dress on the night before her wedding. She is interrupted by her groom (Jose Thelman, the rapist from TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD). Brushing him away with worries of "bad luck," the premonition comes true when Ruiz is attacked by a scaly, green amphibian fitted out with sharp incisors. The caped horror claws her heart out in graphic, bloody detail. Then, the credits rolls to the eerie female choral of Abril's equally schizo score, which later turns to funk as was the style in the mid-1970s.

At least this rather imaginative and, at times, touching fantasy has an erotic edge with such human sirens as Loretta Tovar and Silvia Tortosa back at the school for girls. Ms. Tovar is credited as "Lolita" and also shows up in Ossorio's NIGHT OF THE SORCERERS. Silvia Tortosa is a looker in Eugenio Martin's HORROR EXPRESS and Jess Franco's much later ESMERALDA BAY (1989). 

Stella had acted in Bava's incomparable THE WHIP AND THE BODY and kept busy in spy, crime and horror product of the era. He's an adequate, athletic hero here, but Line really is the one to watch.

The director is at his best evoking the modern Rhineland where motorized ships navigate passages underneath imposing, vertiginous slopes often topped with Gothic castles. In this misty realm, magic is everywhere (to borrow a phrase from SUSPIRIA). Look out for Jess Franco regular Luis Barboo (Lina Romay's factotum in FEMALE VAMPIRE) as Alberic, a dignified enigma who can produce a punishing horsewhip at a moment's notice.

The destruction of Lorelei's subterranean base is perfunctory, but the final solarized shots of her riding away are engaging enough to almost forgive the director for going on to produce such dismal trash as DEMON-WITCH-CHILD (1974). The US version, no doubt with the drive-in market in mind, was recut to include blood red "warning" flashes before each of the juicy, other worldly heart attacks.

-- Reviewed by Robert Monell, 2002