Taking a break from The Blind Dead between the 3rd and 4th movies director Amando de Ossorio unleashed this highly entertaining slice of Spanish horror that has the gorgeous Helga Liné as a mythical German river siren who periodically turns into a scaly rubber-suited monster and devours the heart out of her victims.
LORELEY’S GRASP is (somewhat loosely) based upon some smatterings of German folklore and a bit of plot from Richard Wagner’s Der Ring Nibelungen, both of which are mixed in with the Spanish horror genre’s penchant for beautiful imagery combined with WTF moments of lunacy. Although my knowledge of Wagner is pretty much limited to Bugs Bunny’s WHAT’S OPERA DOC, I’m pretty sure that his vision didn’t include a fringed bikini wearing siren that turns into a reptilian monster (which in the form of Helga Liné is a very welcome addition here none the less). Plus to help provide a smorgasbord of scantily clad victims, we’ve even got a handily located girls school nearby.
Opening with a pre-credit sequence that has a young bride to be being bloodily ravaged by a mostly unseen monster (lots of close-ups of a scaly hand), which in turn upsets the locals mightily – including head professor Elke Ackerman (Silvia Tortosa from HORROR EXPRESS) of the local girls boarding school (where their entire study load seems to consist of hanging out poolside in bikinis). For protection she hires motorcycle riding hunter Sirgurd (Tony Kendall) to guard the school & patrol the grounds at night with his rifle (and leisure suit). Down near the river one day Sigurd spies a red-haired Helga in a her green fringed bikini bounding thru the marsh (in one of 70’s Euro horror’s more delirious scenes) and begins the investigation of the Loreley’s legend, which unfortunately has the ramification in that he falls in love with her (!?).
Along the way he talks to a hippie street musician/storyteller who’s been bending everyone’s ear concerning the legend of the Loreley and hooks up with a local professor who's been preforming some pretty weird experiments concerning turning a dead human hand into a scaly reptile thing by way of artificial moonlight ! Coincidentally each of these people wind up dead - the hippie via the Loreley and professor is whipped by her henchman Alberic (while she watches). This gets the local villagers pretty riled up and in a nod to their forefathers they break out the torches and pitchforks, before being calmed down by the mayor.
It slowly begins to dawn on the slightly dim bulb Sirgurd that his new girlfriend and the Loreley are somehow connected which leads to the truly mind-bending climax in Loreley's hidden grotto (which includes scuba diving & dynamite !). The grotto contains her accumulated treasures and a trio of leopard skin bikini clad sirens (looking like the vampire women in Ossorio's NIGHT OF THE SORCERERS) who end up in pretty wild cat-fight over Sirgurd.
A wonderful example of 70's Spanish non Blind Dead horror, as Ossorio throws a little bit of everything (including the kitchen sink) into the script and manages some truly dream-like sequences that alternate with some really whacked out crazy ones. The monster is mostly hidden (likely for the better) in shadows and a black cape and when it does briefly appear looks to be a cousin of IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE.
Pretty cool to see the villagers going old school by breaking out the ol' torches & pitchforks.
THE LORELEY'S GRASP is helped immensely by the presence of Liné. One of the most beautiful women to appear in euro-horror and although she never seems to get quite the credit as some of her contemporaries, she was an amazing presence in her films. Her other work includes NIGHTMARE CASTLE (1965 with Barbara Steel), THE VAMPIRES NIGHT ORGY (1974 & probably the ultimate Helga Line experience), the very twisted & creepy/sexy BLACK CANDLES from 1980, HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB (1973 with Paul Naschy) and she had a small role in Monte Hellman's off-beat western CHINA 9 LIBERTY 37.
This was released in the U.S. as WHEN THE SCREAMING STOPS with a flashing red light inserted into the prints to warn of upcoming blood & gore and some lucky patrons even got a vomit bag as in MARK OF THE DEVIL and Fulci's ZOMBIE. The now OOP (but still easily found) Demos BCI disc is absolutely beautiful looking and in March a blu-ray is coming out in Germany by way of ELEA-Media.