Thursday, April 15, 2010

Demon’s Claw – review

Director: Lloyd A Simandl

Release date: 2006

Contains spoilers

Czechploitation? No I hadn’t heard of it either but according to both Amazon and IMDb’s tags this is an example of it. Well beyond anything it is a sexploitation, with its bad dubbing (on some of the characters), sexual situations and gratuitous nudity… hoorah.

And I might be on old letch, going hoorah at this point, but this really did take me back to a time I thought had passed, it reminded me of the old Euro-sexploitative horrors and that is no bad thing. Incidentally, despite its name this film has neither demon nor claw, but it does have Elizabeth Bathory (Kira Reed, Demon Under Glass).

Kira Reed as Bathory
So we begin with Bathory placed in a cell and approached by Brother Jan (James Luskon) asking if she will seek redemption. However Bathory is unrepentant. She calls Jan’s God the God of whining and tears and says that her God is the God of flies and darkness. There is digging above her, they are making it so that she can be bathed in sunlight (if, at this point, you think, wouldn’t taking her into the sunlight be easier, well – like me at this point – you are thinking too hard!)

James Luskon as Brother jan
She tells Jan to go and let her dream. He questions of what, and mentions cemetery revels and the undead but she dreams of revenge against her cousin, the abbot (John Comer) – the author of her imprisonment. She awaits three angels, as yet unborn, that she will sacrifice to the Dark Lord to give her eternal life. They are in the future…

schoolgirl's arrive
Cue the schoolgirls arriving (in the present day) at the castle. They are Elena (Eva Nemeth), Mary (Marie Veckova) and Lara (Lucie Haluzik). They are really quite badly dubbed – it is almost endearing. Their new teacher arrives the next day so they go out and explore for their project on Bathory and we get cut scenes from the past. They are searching for the magic book she used as well as looking for the place she committed her crimes. They know not to be worried about ghosts, as there are none, only vampires but they do not come out until the night!

Klara and Bathory
So, in the cut scenes we see some of the depravities in Bathory’s castle. We see a woman brought before Bathory, strapped and cut at the neck by her maid servant Klara (Vladimira Pitelova) – Klara wears a leather bustier with trousers that makes it look like she’s come out of Xena, the pants years. The girl is then stripped and fondled by Klara. We see breasts milked to provide sustenance for the imprisoned feeders (the main source of Bathory’s blood) and then two of them encouraged to perform sexual acts with each other and Klara. Yes, it is a naughty place.

the book
Lara, in the present, goes for a shower and it feels like she is being watched (she is). She goes back to their room and Mary and Elena go for a shower. They are spied upon too, by Klara, in the meantime Lara opens a chest and finds Bathory’s goblet, a knife with bloodstains and the book (amongst other things). As the girls go back from their shower the lights go out (due to a lightning strike) and they wander into a room where they suddenly go back in time. Elena is given a chastity belt and put in with the feeders (for her insolence) and Mary is prepared for sacrifice. Lara finds a passage about this in the book and goes back in time herself, knowing that she must read an incantation from the book whilst sprinkling holy water to reverse the spell that has captured them all!

bleeding a girl
Okay, we see very little from then on in. For instance Elena escapes the castle and gets to Brother Jan at the church (where he has just been sent by the abbot to face off with Bathory). We do not see that journey but we do see Bathory arrive and demand her back. Jan denies all knowledge of her existence, has to drink a draught (that causes him bad dreams later) and suddenly Elena is captured and back at the castle - but we never saw that occur either! We do, however, see the sacrifices.

Bathory is a vampire
This consists of the girl’s being scraped in the kitchens (a whole body exfoliation one guesses) and then tied to a stake outside until the night. They are brought before Bathory, concede their wills and are bitten (for Bathory is a vampire). This makes them evil vampires and then they are taken to bed and a candle (representing Satan) takes their virginity in an infernal marriage. Hold on.., perhaps you are thinking, but this is a rite to make Bathory eternal when she is already a vampire. Well, again you are thinking too much (as I did, I must admit). However, this would have been an interesting premise – to become a vampire without the immortality – but it wasn’t explored, at all.

Eventually both Mary and Elena are vampires, Brother Jan captures Bathory as the peasants revolt and Mary must get away…

Mary as a Vampire
Tosh, absolute filmic tosh but watchable. Okay the girls are lovely and often naked, as befits a sexploitation, and the film is better shot than many of its counterparts from the seventies. It has that certain sleazy exploitative air that is so much fun and separates a true sexploitation from softcore porn. We watch it for the pretty girls, we watch it for the poor plots and we watch it for the bad dubbing (oh the dubbing of the girls was a joy). It isn’t good cinema, I can’t score it high in the scheme of things but it is good fun.

Methodical BleedingThe director has done at least two more Bathory films, Blood Countess will appear on the blog soon and I’m keeping an eye out for Blood Countess 2 being released. Stay tuned, therefore, for more Czechploitation. 3.5 out of 10 (but fun for all that).

The imdb page is here.


Christine said...

Czechploitation? Haha, never heard the word. Anyway, Bathory legend is interesting, but I doubt I watch this. p

Taliesin_ttlg said...

strangely, this is a better film than the other one I have in the 'range' (for want of a better descriptor) and yet the other is a more traditional Bathory retelling. That review will come in the near future.