The story of a hideous monster who takes the form of a beautiful, seductive woman who in a torrent of special effects, beauty and monster transform into a climax of pure evil. For years ... See full summary »
The story of a hideous monster who takes the form of a beautiful, seductive woman who in a torrent of special effects, beauty and monster transform into a climax of pure evil. For years this monster woman has cursed a small village, and to this day her deadly grasps holds the peaceful residents in fear. This ferocious, feminine fury possesses a shocking sensual appetite and she can only satisfy her lust when passion consumes her, by striking where a man is most vulnerable.... and the results are deadly! Written by
Wouter Nederlof <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Who was the lighting director on this film--Ad Reinhardt?
I can't recall another film at the moment that begins with so much promise and flushes it all down the toilet in the second half. Despite its shaky beginning, I was actually prepared to give Evil Clutch an 8 during most of the first half. During the extended climax, my score kept sinking lower and lower until I wasn't sure it even deserved a 4.
Tony (Diego Ribon) and Cindy (Coralina Cataldi Tassoni) are lovers or engaged or something like that. They're in Italy, but it seems like maybe Cindy hasn't always lived in Italy, or she just never traveled much, because Tony is taking Cindy all over Italy to see the famous sights. We know this because director Andreas Marfori intercuts sets of "Polaroid snapshots" with the opening titles. These seem to go on forever, with mostly ridiculous but banal dialogue accompanying them. It was bad and long enough that at one point I thought, "Holy cow, is the whole film just going to be collections of Polaroids? Is Marfori going to 'channel' Chris Marker's La Jetée (1962)?"
Anyway, the Polaroids thankfully stop, and Tony takes Cindy to the Italian Alps. On the way, Cindy says the forest reminds her of Snow White, so they start whistling a bizarre mutation of "Whistle While You Work", changed because Marfori and company weren't about to pay licensing fees on the Disney tune, assuming they could have gotten clearance. Then they pick up a sleazy-looking hitchhiker (who wouldn't?) who has a bizarre story about someone chasing her. We know she's bad news, because we saw her attack someone with her "evil clutch" (her fake, metamorphosizing, demony-hand) in the opening. (By the way, another prominent "evil clutch" seems to be on Tony's Jeep Laredo, at least judging from the soundtrack.) They get to the apparently deserted but beautifully bucolic village they're going to be staying in (a staple of European horror from the late 1960s through the late 1980s), and meet the Red Baron--well, that's what he looks like, anyway, I didn't actually catch his name in the film, if they gave it--who is a writer of "supernatural stories". He "scares" the sleazy hitchhiker by his mere appearance, and tells a story that freaks out Tony and Cindy. They eventually go hiking, all hell breaks loose, and the film goes down the toilet.
Even though Evil Clutch is very roughly a variation on the Evil Dead (1981 & 1987) films, its aping of Raimi's work led to some remarkable cinematography and sound design--much of it significantly different than Evil Dead. Yes, there's that pitch-bendy, almost cartoonish sound effect accompanying the "evil force" that is symbolized by a quickly moving camera at unusual heights and angles, but Marfori and his cinematographer Marco Isoli utilize the technique very effectively.
Even better is the extended sequence when the "Red Baron" is telling his story. There's a fabulous steadicam shot (and if it wasn't a steadicam, it's even more fabulous) that follows our "heroes" down a very long, twisting set of stairs. This eventually turns into a similar "tracking" shot through a somewhat dune-filled beach. This sequence is simply beautiful, and wonderfully matches the circuitous bizarreness of the "Red Baron's" story. Eventually it is intercut with weird, fish-eye lens shots, which also recur later in the film. There is equally admirable cinematography throughout the rest of the first half.
Plus, the acting in the first half isn't bad, and the story--although the typical dream logic stuff of European (and Asian, by the way) horror films--is quite entertaining.
But, along comes the second half. The first problem in the second half is that it takes place in a dark forest and/or at night. Why is that a problem? Because apparently Ad Reinhardt, the artist famous for his "all black" paintings, was the lighting director. In other words, the lighting in the second half simply sucks. It seems like they just weren't using lights most of the time. More often than not, the screen is mostly black, with occasional dots and streaks of light, or, say, Tony's pants, which were white, as the only thing visible. Experimental lighting is fine. But I need to see _something_ if I'm supposed to be following a story.
Next, for some odd reason, the acting goes down the tubes in the second half. I remember thinking, "Hey, this Coralina Tassoni is a decent actor" in the earlier parts of the film. In the second part, I was trying to figure out why Marfori would let her overact like that. Maybe there were really two different directors on the film?
Finally, the story and the delicious atmosphere Marfori worked so hard to build in the first half just disappears. It ends up being a set of random "attack" scenes, with random monsters, random locations, and so on. I think the only dialogue in the last part of the film is people screaming names or just making sounds. That can work in some films, but this one had an interesting story. What happened to it?
On the other hand, there is one redeeming quality in the last half--the gore. For a low-budget flick, the gore is pretty decent here. The only problem is that we can't see half of it, because Ad Reinhardt is using thick black gels on the lights, if he's using lights, and it also ends up being random--why do zombies have a sunlight aversion suddenly? Why are heads exploding? Why are zombies melting like the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz (1939)?
So I can't really recommend this film, although the first half is worth watching. If only there were a "logical" point to turn it off at around the 50 minute mark.
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