Friday, February 25, 2011
Franco Friday #5: The Awful Dr. Orlof
Franco Friday #5
Hello, sweet peeps. I turn back the clock to check out a film that I've been avoiding for a long time. For some dumb, stupid, and stupid reason, I was avoiding The Awful Dr. Orlof. Maybe it's because I'm awful. Maybe it's because all the mirrors in my house are covered because my stepdad Ed kidnaps women so that he can use their succulent face-flesh to restore my beauty. There's at least a dozen million reasons but they were all bad. Word.
The Awful Dr. Orlof
AKA Gritos en la Noche
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Howard Vernon, Conrado San Martin, Diana Lorys, Perla Cristal, Maria Silva, Ricardo Valle
The police are baffled as beautiful young women keep disappearing throughout the city. Witnesses claim to have seen a man with freaky eyes carrying a body through the streets while others claim a well-dressed man is wooing these young ladies away into the night. Both of these scenarios are correct! Dr. Orlof (played by Howard Vernon) and his blind assistant Morpho (Ricardo Valle) are capturing their gorgeous victims so that the doctor can restore his daughter’s crunked up face with his experimental skin transplant techniques. Despite a lack of solid leads, Inspector Tanner (Conrado San Martin) refuses to give up.
The inspector’s fiancé, Wanda (played by Diana Lorys), is doing better at cracking the case than he is and of course, no one believes her. Unfortunately, Wanda bears a striking resemblance to Dr. Orlof’s daughter so he puts her at the top of list of victims for his experiments. When she goes undercover as a woman of loose morals, Wanda gets kidnapped by Dr. Orlof. Will her dumbass fiancé- I mean, the great Inspector Tanner- find her before it is too late?
The Awful Dr. Orlof is a fun slice of gothic horror that, despite its status as a Spanish version of Eyes Without a Face, is way ahead of its time. Director Franco shows his skills here by making a film that is beautiful and easy to sit back and just enjoy. There is lots of dark humor and a couple of silly cliffhanger moments that will instantly win over any fan of classic horror. And, because this is Franco, there are even a few surprisingly bold sexy moments that are rather jarring to behold in black and white. The cinematography is stunning and the English dub is a dang riot.
This is where the whole Orlof cycle began, my friends. Franco would return to these characters time and time again throughout his career making several different versions of (and quasi-sequels to) this flick. And it's easy to see why. I'm sure anyone involved in this project would look back with fondness on this landmark in Spanish horror. I won't say The Awful Dr. Orloff is a good starting point for future Francophiles but you could definitely do worse.