Friday, September 10

Some quick thoughts on Evil Clutch (Il bosco) (1988)

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A vacationing couple run afoul of a demon bitch seductress in the Swiss Alps (that is, some rural region of Italy). A Italo version of Friday's the 13th's Crazy Ralph tries to warn them while a rutty zombie is thrown into the mix and the Evil Dead riffs run wild...

Writer/Director Andreas Marfori's sole Italian horror entry is interesting in that it was the filmmaker's first feature. By 1988, the country's once-thriving film industry had hit the skids with the self-important arthouse not too far away. Most of the directors still slumming at these depths were seasoned personalities like Lenzi and Fulci trying to hold on to the last scrap of the dwindling market. So it's rather odd Marfori entered the sweepstakes so late and that Il bosco (The Woods) was made to start with.

That doesn't make this one much good though. That cheap, impossible-to-describe mirth that characterized the last gasp of Italian horror only comes in the last twenty minutes and even then it doesn't feel quite right. The biggest issue is the blatant runtime padding in getting to a tidy eighty-five minutes. There's long stretches of needless talk and aimless walks through the woods to get to various destinations. One could literally chapter skip or fast forward somewhere with the forty-five mark and still know what's going on. The only semi-interesting thing missed is psycho-babble from the Crazy Ralph-type that depicts some bloody Demons-like scenes that bite a little from Creepshow's Something to Tide You Over segment. The action finally picks up once the attractive demon, that sometimes travels in fast Evil Dead POV shots with electronic droning, and her couple prey get to dilapidated church in the woods. A zombie (or hobo in rags drenched in flour?) starts stalking around, our heroine's boyfriend takes a turn for the worse, and Crazy Ralph re-appears to save the day...or not.

That's about it for Evil Clutch, aside from some screamingly obvious Evil Dead riffing (even down to fog suddenly covering the moon) and decent share of low rent gore. Speaking of the gore, this DVD transfer from Troma in Toxie's Triple Terror #2 set has extremely crushed black levels. Basically, the blacks are so dense that any picture information in darker areas of shots is clipped (completely missing). This makes it nearly impossible to see what the hell is happening in the film's many nighttime sequences. You often find yourself trying to make sense of blobs of light clothing dancing across a solid 4x3 square of black. A shame really, Marfori scores some nice ghoulish shots during this time and the pitch blackness also makes the gore harder to enjoy by turning deep reds into either brown or black.
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1 comment:

Eric Cotenas said...

"That's about it for Evil Clutch"

You forgot about the incomprehensible English end credits song.

...do you dare tread upon the staircase?
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