Evil Clutch

November 20, 2011 at 3:58 am (7 Heads, Evil Clutch) (, , , )

Evil Clutch – 1988 – Italy

Evil Clutch’s Troma tagline (“The nightmare that grabs you where you least expect it!”) references a scene where a succubus tears off a man’s balls. Evil Clutch’s title also alludes to this ball-busting death-grip, or perhaps it’s a metaphor for evil’s enthralling power. Who cares. Evil Clutch is ghastly and thrifty Italian fare. Its single recognizable cast or crew member is Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni of Dario Argento’s Opera (1987).

The opening Polaroid montage provides Evil Clutch’s only characterization. A young couple travels to the Alps. Passing a scenically decrepit village they meet a crazy biker/horror novelist who speaks with a Passy-Muir valve. He warns of evil lurking the countryside but is of course unheeded. Camping, the couple encounters a demonic witch. The rest of the flick is spent endlessly running, screaming, puking, and gushing viscera. Finally everyone dies aside from the heroine who staggers from the woods gasping and moaning in an agonizing long take.

Evil Clutch borrows stylistically and thematically from The Evil Dead (1981). Evil Clutch utilizes similarly slimy gore effects (even chainsaw violence) and an absurd overabundance of Steadicam chase shots. Youngsters are harassed by gruesome demons as continuous supernatural shocks defy explanatory logic. While highly derivative, Evil Clutch’s gross-out thrills entertain. There are effects aplenty in the form of moldering zombies, scythe-amputations, and blood-squirting cuckoo clocks. In a memorable bit, a fishhook snags someone’s face. The witch is also hideously cool, with fangs, tentacles, and a hairy third arm.

Nearly lost amid the screaming and blood spraying, Evil Clutch’s few chilling moments showcase ominously bleak atmosphere. The beautiful Alpine locations are enlivened menacingly by suggestive camera angles and unsettling long takes. Remarkably, even shining sunlit scenes manage to be gloomy. Enhancing the ambiance is a tense synthesized musical score featuring many Shepard tones.

Despite its cheaply imitative nature, Evil Clutch is likable. The nasty effects are imaginatively ridiculous and the wildly bobbing camerawork is unpredictable. Evil Dead features greater originality and craftsmanship, but Evil Clutch’s dreary atmosphere infrequently invokes its own style that’s more disquieting than any number of chainsaw murders.

Rating: 7/10 Shrunken Heads. Stands with the better of Troma’s campy catalog.

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