Dr. Orloff's Monster [Blu-ray]
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The follow-up to Jess Franco's career-launching film The Awful Dr. Orloff, Dr. Orloff's Monster is a modern gothic thriller, injected with moments of perverse eroticism, science fiction, and smoky jazz. When Melissa (Agnés Spaak) returns to her ancestral home to claim her inheritance, she finds that the castle is filled with strange characters and dark secrets. Governing the crumbling manor is a diabolical scientist, Dr. Conrad Jekyll (Marcelo Arroita-Jáuregui), who uses high-frequency mind control to command an undead henchman (Hugo Blanco) to perform a series of vicious murders. When a dry-witted detective (Pastor Serrador) and Melissa's suitor (Pepe Rubio) trace the crimes back to Jekyll's castle, they realize the only way to trap the zombie is to use Melissa as bait.
Special Features: French soundtrack with optional English subtitles, English language soundtrack, Audio commentary by film historian Tim Lucas, Eleven minutes of alternate, more sexually explicit footage, French theatrical trailer, Italian theatrical trailer
Top customer reviews
Dr. Fischer uses Orloff's secrets to turn his own brother into a radio controlled zombie, as payback for sleeping with his wife. For no obvious reason, the good doctor also uses his robotic brother to murder several local nightclub tarts. I guess his wifes infidelity took a rather large toll on his sanity. To complicate matters Dr. Fischer's grown niece comes to stay, and has no idea her reanimated father is lurking about the family castle.
Dr. Orloff's Monster is a fairly solid entry from Franco's B/W period, and displays a lot of polish that Franco would soon abandon in favor of non-linear, seat-of-the-pants production techniques. I think he must have taken in a couple Bergman films, because there is a lot somber moody photography, dissolves of angst-ridden faces, and a general aura of depression throughout the film.
My guess is that some will find it dull, even with the added spice of nude scenes from the Euro-version. I rather liked it's low-key, dreary atmosphere and had no problem with the deliberate pacing.
This Image DVD looks pretty good and shows some of the nicely realized B/W cinematography. The nude scenes have a little jitter and appear to be taken from a slightly lesser source, but it's not a glaring contrast.
The introductory material here helps to better explain the relationships between Jekyll, his wife, and his brother. The Spanish version deletes most of the female nudity, but since the murder victims are usually nude or near-nude when the robot killer strikes, that makes the murder scenes pretty hard to follow. Fortunately, that is not a problem with the French edition.
"Dr. Orloff's Monster" is not a great classic of the horror genre, but it is an entertaining excursion in the European Gothic mode, and worth a look. The print used by Image for the DVD is quite good.