‘ You’ll eat your heart out!’
The Loreley’s Grasp is a 1972 Spanish supernatural horror film written and directed by Amando de Ossorio (Tombs of the Blind Dead; Demon Witch Child; The Ghost Galleon). The film’s original title is Las Garras de Lorelei [“The Claws of the Lorelei”]. It was released in the USA as When the Screaming Stops. It stars Tony Kendall, Helga Liné, Silvia Tortosa and Loretta Tovar.
On July 24, 2017, Scream Factory released the film on Blu-ray on a double-bill with The Night of the Sorcerers.
Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.com
The legendary shape-shifting Loreley has been living for centuries in a grotto beneath the river Rhein in Germany. Every night when the moon is full, she turns into a reptile-like creature that rips the hearts from its victims.
After young women from a local boarding school are sacrificed, and then a blind violinist, a hunter named Sirgurd (Tony Kendall) is engaged to kill the beast…
As was the practice, certain scenes were filmed as clothed and unclothed for different export markets.
In the US, the film was released in 1976 as When the Screaming Stops, with the addition of red warning flashes preceding each gory murder.
This US-edit was subsequently released to movie theaters in the early 1980s with artwork that implied it was a slasher film, rather than a monster movie, and then on VHS by Lightning Video. Patrons were issued with vomit bags.
In November 2007, BCI released a remastered, uncut, 1.85:1 aspect ratio version on DVD in the USA.
The film is available uncut, with a 16:9 – 1.77:1 aspect ratio, on a Unbekannt Blu-ray with English, German, and Spanish audio options, an image gallery and trailers.
Review [contains spoilers]:
Amando de Ossorio was willing to cast around widely for inspiration when throwing together his Spanish horror movies in the 1970s. While Paul Naschy was drawn to Universal horror themes and others just redid the same old vampire stories, de Ossorio was prone to gene-splice elements from other myths or historical footnotes into overwhelmingly familiar plotting. This Teutonic-Hispanic hybrid is rooted in the myth of the Nibelung but plays as a cross between a werewolf picture and a She/L’Atlantide wicked immortal queen story.
A community on the Rhine – cue some misty location work – is terrorised by a creature that strikes during a full moon, tearing the hearts out of victims (a young bride, a blind musician, etc.) with green rubbery claws (the effects are ropey but extreme, with exposed hearts, blood on nipples, ripped-up rib cages, etc). In a William Castle-ish frill, a few frames of red pop up before any murders, however there’s no horror horn, or on-screen warning ballyhoo, so we can just take it as mystic foreshadowing.
The local girls’ school, a Lycanthropus-style venue full of Euro-babes in skimpy outfits (who disappear from the plot without even any of their number getting murdered), hires a hunter named Sirgurd (Tony Kendall) to track the presumed beast. He wanders around in Seventies safari outfits any animal could see coming from a mile away, and banters with the uptight staff member (Silvia Tortosa) who hates him on sight and thus becomes one-third of his romantic triangle.
The other angle is Lorelei (Helga Liné), who wears a fetching black fringed bikini and lingers wildchild-like by the Rhine, is so obviously the monster that it’s a wonder there’s no twist coming to peg Tortosa or one of the others as the killer (there isn’t).
Things are even more confused as a goateed eccentric scientist (Angel Menendez) demonstrates how through some atavistic process an injection and a beam of artificial moonlight can transform a severed human hand into a barbed green version of the monster’s claw. The lorelei, whose sidekick Alberic (Luis Barboo) hangs around in monkish robes, invades the laboratory to murder the scientist, who obligingly tips acid over his face, which rots and melts away.
In an impressive vaulted space under the Rhine, the lorelei – whose transformed look is a bit like the creature from It! The Terror From Beyond Space in a black robe – has a collection of rotted skeletons that represent earlier human lovers she has hung on too long, and three maidens in leopard pattern bikinis (adorned with mini skulls) who hiss and argue and catfight as they plot treachery. Their purpose in the story is to free Sirgurd from chains so he can go rescue the heroine, before a bomb thrown in the river brings the roof down on them, yet they also take the place of the vanished pupils in the absurd eye-candy stakes.
Sirgurd stabs the lorelei with a handy semi-magic dagger (made from Siegfried’s sword) the professor happened to have, and the monster turns into a pale Line – who breathes “we’ll meet again in Valhalla” before dying, then shows up in colour negative on a horse to gallop into the afterlife.
The Loreley’s Grasp has choral music among the usual easy listening burble, a lot of beautiful women striking pin-up poses, vibrant early Seventies fashions, ‘video nasty‘-level gore (trimmed from all those horrible 1980s video releases), a myth-science-cliché mess for a monster and a few moments of Rhine-lore lyricism. Actually, it’s quite fun.
“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.” Jason McElreath, DVD Drive-In
Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.co.uk
“Well aware of the exploitation commitments incumbent on him, Ossorio sets much of the action in a girls’ school, allowing plenty of scope for swimming pool scenes. Much more imposing than any of the giggling bikini girls is the 40 year-old Helga Liné. Winding up a busy year in Spanish horror, she looks magnificent as the human Lorelei, though her cloaked, reptilian alter ego is a bona fide joke.” Jonathan Rigby, Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema
“There are some really nice de Ossorio touches in the film – particularly, a scientist who is testing a moonlight machine and a radioactive knife to use against Lorelei (and the subsequent trashing of his his laboratory is awesome, too), and Lorelei’s underwater castle, complete with skull-adorned bikini servants.” The Brooklyn Cult of Mystic Horrors
” … the acting’s passable (though the dubbing is risible) and the direction … is competent. The storyline is enjoyably daft and at least it’s original, rather than being yet another damn vampire / werewolf / mummy / horde of zombies. The monster is monstrous, the deaths are violent and bloody, and the pseudo-scientific explanation is complete hogwash of the highest order. Top stuff.” MJ Simpson
“We have a lot of monster-cam shots, as it waits outside the window or in the bushes, waiting the right time to attack. When it does, the gore and brutality is there. Sure, some of the gore is a little less than real looking, even rubbery at times. But for me, it all comes down to fun. We don’t even get a really good look at the monster’s face, but can tell that it’s pretty much a rubber mask, filled with a lot of white teeth and bulging eyes. But is that a bad thing?” Jon Kitley, Kitley’s Krypt
” … severely underrated and I think any horror fan worth his (or her) salt will find it an enjoyable ride. It’s fun, it’s bloody, it’s ridiculously easy on the eyes.” Jocelyn, The Church of Splatter-Day Saints
“As with the Blind Dead films, Loreley offers a series of moody interludes between the gore scenes and exposition scenes. We see the seductive redhead striding across marshlands on cloudy afternoons, siren song playing softy in the background. These scenes – heightened by earnest acting, creative direction, and tight editing – help make the picture very good for its kind.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers
“The amphibious green slime monster with big teeth is more comical than frightening, and an eye-filling parade of curvaceous cuties in bikinis and other skimpy costumes will please males. But these facts don’t necessarily make a good movie…” John Stanley, Creature Features
Tony Kendall – Return of the Blind Dead
Helga Liné – The Dracula Saga, Horror Rises from the Tomb, The Vampire’s Night Orgy
Silvia Tortosa – Horror Express
Loreta Tovar – Curse of the Vampire
José Thelman – Tombs of the Blind Dead
Luis Induni – The Horrible Sexy Vampire; Dr. Jekyll vs. the Werewolf; The Werewolf and the Yeti
Javier de Rivera – The Awful Dr. Orloff; Night of the Seagulls; A Dragonfly for Each Corpse)
Antonio Orengo –Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror, Tombs of the Blind Dead
Betsabe Ruiz – Werewolf Shadow, Horror Rises from the Tomb, Autopsy
The Monastery of Santa Maria l in Real de Valdeiglesias, Madrid, Spain