Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Sinister Doctor Orloff (1984)

Many regards the 80's (and 90's, 00's, 10's....) the downward spiral of Jess Franco's career. In a way they might be correct, because he started to make more... utter trash. Porn, ultra-cheap action movies without any love or passion. But here and there, in-between such movies as Falo Crest and Golden Temple Amazons, Uncle Jess churned out some very personal and passionate projects. One of them is yet another Orloff-movie, The Sinister Doctor Orloff (not to be confused with 1973's The Sinister Eyes of Doctor Orloff). Like the 1987 classic Faceless this is another take on the Orloff-mythology and as usual Franco blows me away with his talent. It's a f**king crime this isn't out on DVD! So what's it about? Well, it's the same old story...

Alfred Orloff (Antonio Mayans), the son of the legendary and controversial Doctor Orloff, lives with his old father (Howard Vernon, of course!) in a huge, spectacular house (created by Ricardo Bofill as usual) in Alicante, Spain. In the basement his mother Melissa (Rocío Freixas) is laying dead and frozen in time and he's obsessed with trying to resurrect her. The old Orloff has given up, but Alfred wants to continue his fathers legacy by stalking the streets after prostitutes to use in his experiments. Inspector Tanner (Antonio Rebollo) is as usual around the corner, getting closer and closer in his investigation!

Yeah, it's a very basic premise and we've seen it in many the other movies directed by Uncle Jess - but The Sinister Doctor Orloff goes further in creating a dark and menacing atmosphere. The scenes where Alfred is stalking the streets in his car reminds me a lot about Taxi Driver, but the similarities ends there. Everything is drowned in an amazing score written and performed by Franco himself. It's a mix between ambient experimental stuff and freaky and very alternative jazz. Never heard anything like this in a Franco movie before, and it's just another sign how different this production is.

While the story is very traditional - Orloff lures a woman come with her and then his literary eyeless brute Andros kills her, the story is so filled of dread and darkness. The loveless relationship between the bitter, insane old Orloff is a damn tour-de-force by Howard Vernon - very low-key, hardly speaking a single line - but so powerful. But you know what, the person who steals every scene is Antonio Mayans. It's rarely I write something like that regarding him. He's a good actor, but often a bit uninterested in his work - but here, wow... he's burning. Never seen him so intense, so cold. The sadness because of his mother, maybe even a incestuous feeling - something that seem to create a jealousy in hi father. This is top-shelf Franco, with out a doubt.

The ending is strange, odd, totally unexpected - and downbeat as hell.

This is always how it ends. I watch a Franco and I get stunned by how good it is. Franco is a smart man, one of the smartest people I've heard. But when he makes movies it's more about the EQ than the IQ, the Emotional Quote. He knows which buttons to push and he often gives a fuck about the small details. Why bother with stuff no one cares about when he can create a movie based on the wholeness, something very few other directors can.

The Sinister Doctor Orloff look great with great cinematography, editing and directing - not to forget the fantastic cast and original score. This is on my top ten Jess Franco movies from now on and I wish more of you could see it. Mondo Macabro, please... DVD?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"this is another take on the Orloff-mythology"

I haven´t seen any of those films.....but i should start.

Good review Ninja.