Friday, January 13, 2012

The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff (1973)

Probably shot over a weekend, The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff is one of the cheapest productions I've seen from Franco from this period. I'm pretty sure there's other movies on the same budget level, but this is more or less a couple of persons walking around a nice villa in daylight, in the night and some driving around in a car as a bonus in-between. Personally I think this is a good sign, because Franco always do good stuff when he has a small cast and crew and don't need to move away from the set so much.

Young Melissa Comfort (Montserrat Prous) is haunted by nightmares where she's killing people. In real life she's paralyzed since childhood and can't move around without the help from her sisters (I think). Thank heavens Dr Orloff (William Berger) arrives and starts to take care of her, but because he's Orloff he also has something sinister in his... eyes and that's greed! He can make Melissa, with mind control, walk around killing those that Orloff wants dead, and this time he wants revenge for past love-related injustices!

The Sinister Eyes of Dr Orloff is a pretty simple movie. No real twists, but as usual a very interesting dreamlike quality. Much of Franco's work is based on mood and atmosphere, and here he makes a fine job with not much money at all. Like a lot of his movies it boarders to something arty, like an arthouse movie mixed with some gentle sleaze (but this movie actually has very little nudity and sex) and violence. It's all about the feeling that Franco creates, and this movie is all about that.

While her sisters are the usual dangerous broads, Montserrat Prous makes a sensitive and edgy performance as Melissa, easily the highlight of the movie. William Berger - and Edmund Purdom in a very small and quite pointless part - is good, but Berger can't live up to the fascinating character Howard Vernon once created and continued to do until his death. His cameo as Orloff in Faceless still makes me get goose bumps. Another weird cameo is Franco himself, playing something I thought was a rapist/child molester in the beginning, but now I can't honestly understand the inclusion of that character. Probably a line I missed that explained his presence, or maybe some of my readers can make it more clear?

When Franco is doing fine he's creating masterpieces. When he's slumming he's doing the worst movies ever made. And then we have this, when he's doing a job and having friends around for a couple of days without to much trouble, he makes good movies like The Sinister Eyes of Dr Orloff.

It's out on DVD from InterVision. Pick it up.

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