Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dr. Orloff's Monster (1964)

There's no Dr Orloff in Dr. Orloff's Monster, but still the sinister Dr Fisherman (Marcelo Arroita-Jáuregui) delivers a new diabolical experiment for our pleasure. Many years ago he found his wife in bed together with his brother, and he killed his rival and transformed him to a Karloff-esque killer-zombie/mind-controlled freak! Why? I'm not sure, but probably some kinda revenge and to kill helpless showgirls in the nearby villages! One day his daughter in law (Agnès Spaak) comes to visit. She's never seen her father, but soon understand that's something is terribly wrong in the spooky castle mansion and the now constant drunk wife of Dr Fisherman, Ingrid (Luisa Sala), clearly wants to tell her the truth... if she's not stopped first!

Except a crazy scientist this has nothing to do with the Orloff-mythology, but the story and settings - and more or less everything - reminds us of Orloff. The only thing missing is Howard Vernon as our favorite antagonist and instead the competent, but less charismatic, Jess Franco-veteran Marcelo Arroita-Jáuregui and his huge beard puts in a good performance as the crazy doctor. He's showed up in more than a few of Franco's work from this time, but often in smaller parts - and I'm not totally sure he works 100 % in such a big part.

The script is well-written and works fine, but is a bit too generic and never comes up in the earlier levels of craziness Franco and Orloff. Hugo Blanc as Andros, the mind-controlled zombie gives us an excellent performance and is eerie and spooky and even looks kinda scary with his static movements and plastic-looking face. With his black polo the comparison with Karloff as Frankenstein's monster isn't far away and the fact is that Andros is a more complex character than I first could imagine. I especially like his interactions with his daughter, which is very tender and beautifully shot.

Ah, and Uncle Jess is in the movie also, as usual - this time in one of his favourite parts, a piano player, this time blind and getting killed by the monster!

In a way Dr. Orloff's Monster is one of those less personal movies from Franco, even if it's very similar to earlier works. Almost like the producers, Eurociné (called Eurocineac in the credits) in this case just made an order of an Orloff-like movie and Franco never put his whole heart into the projects.

But it's a well-made thriller with some surprisingly graphic nudity and nice set-pieces when the zombie is killing showgirls and creating havoc in a club. The cinematography, direction and editing is as usual top-notch. It's just the passion that's lacking.

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