Friday, November 14, 2008


Another vintage review of a pair of Spanish horror films from the good folks at BCI/Deimos:

Fri., 16 Nov., 2007

A double-shot of Amando de Ossorio from the Spanish horror line of BCI/Deimos. Watched them both for the first time, and back-to-back last night, and it made for quite a contrast.

I'd heard some pretty terrible things about THe LORELEY'S GRASP (1974), but it turned out to be very good, almost excellent, for what it is. It's set in a small town by the Rhine where young women are being horribly killed by some sort of creature, their hearts torn from their chests. A girl's school hires a professional hunter to protect the students and bring in the beast, which turns out to be the Loreley of Germanic legend, taking hearts to prolong its life. Ossorio takes what could have been a standard-issue monster movie and ambitiously infuses it with a mythical element that is surprisingly effective.

LORELEY is certainly hampered by budgetary considerations, but not cripplingly so. I could have done without the radioactive recreation of Siegfried's blade--why not just stick with the mythical elements of the film and write it so the Doc had found what he believed to be the real one? Loreley's business face was a rubber-suited atrocity, but good ol' Amando realized it from the beginning, and, having thankfully never been corrupted by the Lucio Fulci School of Talentless Hackwork with regard to lousy effects, never allowed us to get much of a look at it. At the same time, her public relations face was that of Helga Line, and we get to see plenty of it, which is just dandy. Great locations, too. Amando is almost Franco-like in making solid use of interesting surroundings. He manages, at times, to imbue the movie with an otherworldly feel, as though it's a fairy tale; something that isn't necessarily taking place in a fixed time in the real world. Our heroes' stripey pants do unfortunately date the film. Put him in some khakis, and we'd be talking Timeless.

Overall, a very solid effort--a movie I'm glad I bought.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said for NIGHT OF THE SORCERERS (1974). Like LORELEY, I'd heard it was rancid butter, but it also had a reputation, in some corners of genre-dom, as a most worthwhile effort, and I prayed the hype was to prove more accurate than the hooey. Unlike LORELEY, though, the dire estimations of the films' merits were not only correct but actually understated. It just stinks. Worse than limburger. Worse than the stinkiest of stinky feet. Worse than George Bush Jr. Well, maybe not that badly--no film is really that bad. But it's still pretty awful. So awful there isn't much point in listing its deficiencies. There are some beautiful ladies on display, and that's the only thing good one can say about it. Oh, and it ends.

Even though NIGHT sucks like a black hole, both of these discs are first-rate. Beautiful prints. Not much in the way of extras (in spite of the "Special Edition" tag on the label), but the folks at BCI/Deimos deserve nothing but praise for the loving attention they display on every one of these releases. Even releasing such obscure niche-market titles deserves a round of applause. That they do it so very well is just gravy.

I would, however, question the wisdom of releasing NIGHT before LORELEY. It's impossible to imagine anyone who watched, as their first Amando de Ossorio film, NIGHT OF THE SORCERERS ever being compelled to watch another. Active avoidance will be the most likely reaction every time. Its release, when LORELEY is in the wings, is like the situation, on the Naschy films, where the putrid EXORCISM was chosen to precede HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB. The recently announced plan to release NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF and VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES on Blu-Ray sound pretty dubious to me, as well. I want these films to succeed. I'd guess that Blu-Ray release will be a rather pricey venture, and I'd just as soon the company didn't put too many of its eggs into what is, honestly, a fringe format that shows little sign of ever rising above the niche occupied by laserdiscs in the '80s, and is just as likely to die off entirely in the near future. But these are really seperate matters. These two were my first non-Blind Dead Ossorio ventures, and even handicapping for SORCERERS, his work is looking pretty damned good to me.


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