The Awful Dr. Orloff/Comments

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< The Awful Dr. Orloff

Intriguing thriller about an evil doctor named Orlof (Howard Vernon) and his blind, bug eyed henchman Morpho (Riccardo Valle), who kidnap and murder women with the hope of using their faces to restore his burned daughter's looks. A police inspector named Tanner (Conrado San Martin) is about to be married when he is assigned to the case and must solve it before he can think about his relationship. His fiancee Wanda (Diana Lorys) understands and even wishes to go undercover in order to catch the killers before any other women can be killed. This puts her is a dangerous situation though, as she resembles Orlof's daughter and is unwittingly about to go under his evil knife. Incredibly atmospheric first time horror film from Spanish director Jess Franco is a wonder to behold, especially in light of some of his more unpolished later works. This film was released two years after Hitchcock's revolutionary Psycho and though it contains nothing quite as memorable as the oft-loved shower sequence, it still manages to top the controversy quotient of the Norman Bates saga. Though it is not overly gory, there are some shots where blood (which always seems to look cooler in black and white) is shown and at least two shots of bare-chested women, something unheard of in theatrical releases at the time. --Pockets of Sanity

This was one of the first Horror films made in Spain, with French backing from Eurocine's Marius Lesoeur, this was a good surprise for those who caught this in it's original run. It could have been a run of the mill screen-filler, but with Jess Franco Directing, there was plenty of strong character. Vernon's performance is great, the victims of Orloff and Morpho are great to look at, and the photography has moments of Gothic atmosphere, but there was something that made this film more unique. What made this film stand out turned out to be characteristics that would run through Franco's career - The two brief moments featuring topless ladies that were cut out for the Stateside run (The print on the DVD is a print from Eurocine), the slightly improvisational score, the characters that appear to be manic including one that was very important to the story, and credits like "Based on a novel by David Khune" featuring one of the many pseudonyms connected to Franco that must have had some viewers looking for a book that did not exist. For a start in making Horror films, this would prove to be a major turning point for Franco in his early years as a film maker. Fans of Horror history should check this film out not just for being a good film of the Early 60's, but a major example of Franco's early years. --Screen 13

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