Thursday, May 31, 2012

In short: Las Garras De Lorelei (1974)

aka When the Screaming Stops

aka The Lorelei's Grasp

A sleepy German town by the Rhine is disturbed by a series of brutal murders. A rude amphibian is roaming the night, killing people (predominantly women) and absconding with their hearts. The local Hungarian blind hippie "gypsy" fiddler knows what's going on: the Loreley has risen from her grotto, turned into a horrible creature by the light of the moon to hunt for the hearts that will sustain her for the coming centuries. Surprisingly, nobody seems to believe that theory.

Elke Ackerman (Silvia Tortosa), a Professor in the close-by school for (pretty adult) girls is understandably disturbed by the murders, so she and the school decide to hire the professional hunter Sigurd (Tony Kendall) to protect the girls from what they believe to be a dangerous animals. Sigurd's impossible manliness brings its own problems with it, though. Not only are all the girls only too willing to make sweet, 70s eye and breast contact with him, even the virtuous Professor can hardly resist Sigurd's charms and falls into the classic movie behaviour of love-bickering with him whenever she sees him prancing around in the horrifying, yet formfitting fashion he decides to wear on any given day.

With his testosterone level now probably driven to a nearly lethal heights, it's no wonder Sigurd soon meets and falls in love with the human form of the Loreley (Helga Liné), who likes to pose by the Rhine in a tiny bikini. Loreley loves him back, too, but the love between manly men on a mission and were-Deep Ones can only lead to trouble, especially when said were-Deep One just can't let go of her diet of human hearts.

Spanish director Amando de Ossorio may be best known for his Blind Dead movies (with the first and the fourth one of that series clearly being his best films), but he did of course make other films.

One of these is this curious interpretation of the Loreley myth that turns the siren into the guardian of the treasure of the Nibelungs with the honest to Wotan Alberic (Luis Barboo) as her assistant who's there to give people a good whipping. I am of course a sucker for weird sideways interpretations of any sort of Western myth, and can't help but admire a film that turns the Loreley into a were-Deep One (or, as the mandatory Professor explains, some sort of were-throwback to an earlier human form that just happens to look like a bad rubber amphibian monster) and still has scenes that attempt to give it a serious dream-like mood, even though plot, dialogue and acting here can only ever achieve a cheese-like mood, quite like the moon.

The more mythical scenes are standing in stark contrast to much of the rest of the film which consists of Tony Kendall and various very attractive actresses strutting their stuff in horrifying pieces of 70s fashion or varying states of undress, and some very unconvincing gore.

De Ossorio films this fine mixture of sleaze and nonsense - the film also features a radioactive dagger, people acting like proper idiots, super dynamite, and Loreley's female servants (the Rhine maidens?) cat-fighting over Kendall  - in an exceedingly pretty style with sometimes pleasantly eye-popping colours and location shots of picture postcard quality.

Las Garras De Lorelei is not a film I can find in my heart to take seriously in the least, but it is one that does delight me as a fine - and oh so typical of the 70s - melange of cheese, sleaze and imagination.


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