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Jess Franco's Awful dr. Orlof aka Gritos en la noche (1962) stars Howard
Vernon as dr. Orlof, who makes experiments and skin transplants on girls he
kidnaps in order to return her savagely injured daughter back to her
physical beauty. He has Morpho, a horribly disfigured human monster, with
him helping him and kidnapping the girls. A police detective starts to
investigate the strange disappearances and soon he gets some clues where the
missing girls might be..
The story is pretty close to many classic monster horrors like King Kong (1933) and other stories in which a desperate character tries to fight against wrongs and obstacles he has encountered, only to find himself even deeper in the misery. Orlof wants to safe his daughter's face and beauty, but by doing bad things (murder, torture) he cannot reach his goal, and this is the moral and message of this film. The ending in Orlof is very sad and tragic, and also close to King Kong's ending. It is all as tragic as the life itself, and by watching these immortal classics among cinema we have an opportunity to understand little better how things in our lives should be solved and by which means, no matter what. Also this film teaches us to value all the positive things in our life, not just to think about what there ISN'T in our lives. There are always somebody whose life is very sad and miserable compared to yours and mine.
Orlof is also very atmospheric horror film and shows the talent of director Franco, who has also specialized in trash and exploitation in many of his films. His other achievements among many are Bloody Moon (sex/slasher), Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun (nunsploitation), Sadomania (WIP), Faceless (ultra gore), Virgin Among the Living Dead (sexploitation, vampires) etc etc. Awful dr. Orlof is definitely among his greatest cinematic achievements, and is as effective and valuable as other black and white Euro classics like Mario Bava's La Maschera Del Demonio (1960) starring Barbara Steele.
There are many great scares in Orlof and atmospheric segments in the castle of Orlof and in his chamber. Franco uses weird camera angles effectively here and they work fine and create the ominous feel to the film. This is the kind of film which should be seen in movie theatre on big screen. I give Awful dr. Orlof definitely 9/10 rating and recommend it highly to every one interested in classic black and white European horror cinema, which has all the unique elements usually lacking in nowadays' commercial efforts. Awful dr. Orlof is also a must see for those who think Franco is bad film maker.
In 1912, five beautiful easy women are kidnapped and the efficient
Inspector Tanner (Conrado San Martín), who is engaged of Wanda Bronsky
(Diana Lorys), is assigned to the case. The responsible for the
abductions is Dr. Orloff (Howard Vernon), a former prison doctor, and
his deformed assistant Morpho Lodner (Ricardo Valle), who was a
prisoner sentenced to death and revived by Dr. Orloff, that bring the
women to the Hartog Castle to remove the skin of his victims to repair
the face of his daughter that was burned in a fire. When Wanda decides
to help her beloved fiancé to find the criminal, she becomes the next
victim of Dr. Orloff. Now Inspector Tanner's last chance to find Dr.
Orloff relies on the lead of the drunkard Jeannot (Faustino Cornejo).
"Gritos en la Noche" (a.k.a. "The Awful Dr. Orloff") is one of the best films of director Jesus Franco that I have seen so far. The story combines the story lines of the successful 1960 "Les Yeux Sans Visage" ("Eyes without a Face") with Frankenstein, Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes and the result is good. The cinematography in black and white is great and the acting is decent. My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "O Terrível Dr. Orloff" ("The Terrible Dr. Orloff")
One of Franco's first movies (when he was still considered a good director), very pleasant to watch. It has all the elements of the traditional horror recipe and is often inventive and surprising ; of course it is not really scary (well, at least not anymore), but the angst mood does still work pretty well, and it is both funny and seriously set (what post-Scream so-called horror movies are not) ; and sometimes even beautiful (the black and white pictures help). Actor Howard Vernon is a good Frankenstein/Jack the Ripper villain, and has something of Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee. If you like old terror tales (from Universal 1930's to Hammer 1970's, that kind), you should give it a try, really.
I'll admit I'm not a fan of director Jess Franco or his movies, but "The
Awful Dr. Orloff" is an old-fashioned, black-and-white surprise. Orloff
(Howard Vernon, of "Zombie Lake") and his bug-eyed henchman Morpho kidnap
lovely damsels to use their skin in an attempt to reconstruct the scarred
face of the doctor's daughter. Granted, the movie is long on talk, but the
black-and-white photography creates a genuinely spooky atmosphere, and some
of the Gothic images are worthy of Bergman. Franco does a good job of
building a suspenseful third act, thereby redeeming the
"The Awful Dr. Orloff" was the film that put Jess Franco on the map in
the field of trashy exploitation cinema. Hes been a legend since,
turning out hundreds of films. Admittedly, this isn't an original plot
at all. A quick scan of the film's summary shows it rips off the key
plot elements to "Eyes Without a Face". However, "The Awful Dr. Orlof"
is one of the best imitation films ever made. It doesn't have the
artistic beauty that "Eyes Without a Face" had, but its a much more
sordid tale overall and plays the material to a hilt. Its also a
constantly compelling story that remains frightening throughout, with
plenty of gloomy and fog-drenched Gothic atmosphere.
On a technical level, the film is average. Howard Vernon is quite good as the title mad doctor, but the rest of the cast is pretty poor. The inspector character is completely uninteresting and Conrado San Martín in no way rises above the material. Diana Lorys is positively gorgeous but not that much of an actress. The direction by Franco is good and probably his most quickly paced, but far from his most interesting. Fortunately, the cinematography and jazz score are great, and there are several sequences that retain the ability to jolt the audience. Plus, unlike the director's later work, there is a story to speak of here. "The Awful Dr. Orlof" isn't Franco's best film but it may be his most accessible. (6/10)
It is very difficult for me to discuss the various merits of the 1962 Spanish-French horror film "The Awful Dr. Orlof" without comparing them to the French-Italian horror film "Les Yeux Sans Visage" ("Eyes Without a Face"), which came out three years earlier. While both films concern a deranged doctor who kidnaps young women in order to procure skin grafts for his mutilated daughter, "Les Yeux" is the classier of the two; more literate, more shocking and more poetic. Still, despite its lousy reputation, "Orlof" does have lots to offer. It is beautifully shot in B&W, with consistently interesting camera work, and features an effectively creepy score, utilizing mainly piano, percussion and weird sound effects. Thus, a genuinely unsettling aura is achieved throughout the picture. The film also boasts some surprising nudity and a few shock scenes; these latter are not as gross as the ones in "Les Yeux," but still make an impression. And whereas "Les Yeux" gave us the sinister and beautiful Valli as the mad doctor's accomplice, "Orlof" gives us Morpho, a scarred, bug-eyed human robot whose every appearance is visually fascinating. The gorgeous Spanish actress Diana Lorys also stands out here as the police inspector's ballerina girlfriend who goes undercover to stop the demented doctor. Though a fairly paint-by-numbers affair, "Orlof" still proved a fun and riveting entertainment for me, and, thanks to the fine folks at Image Entertainment, it has been nicely transferred into a fine-looking DVD. Too bad about the terrible dubbing, however; subtitles would've been so much more preferable.
I saw this, one of Franco's first films, late at night and although it was creepy and at times rather surreal, there is little to approach the weirdness of Vampiros Lesbos et al. But instead we have a well-crafted gothic fantasy reminding one of Universal or Hammer horrors, but ultimately surpassing these in terms of suspense and scares. There is also very little of the violence or nudity that characterises his later work (although I did see a slightly trimmed version). This is probably Franco's most accessible film and, although he has himself remade it at least 4 times, this still remains the ultimate version. And unlike just about anything else by Franco, it stays the right side of cheese throughout, relying on Franco's skill as a director rather than cheap nudity thrills. Definitely recommended for fans of euro-gothic horror, although fans of Franco's later more whacked-out work would have to prepare themselves for something making a little more sense than normal.
'The Awful Dr. Orloff' is obviously ripped off the extraordinary 'Eyes
Without A Face'. I didn't really have a problem with that in itself, only
that what Franco does with such potentially rich material. Which is, nothing
much. Sadly this early Jess Franco effort, though entertaining enough,
never reaches the surrealistic heights of his late 60s/early 70s peak
('Vampyros Lesbos', 'Succubus',etc.).
My enjoyment of this movie was lessened by it being the badly dubbed American version with inane dialogue. The way English versions of European horror invariably dumb down the scripts/characters is one of my pet peeves. Why do they do this? Lack of respect for genre movies? Or some kind of reverse Hollywood snobbery? Not having seen the original Spanish cut though I'll give this movie the benefit of the doubt. It just might be better than I think.
Veteran character actor (and Franco regular) Howard Vernon ('Alphaville') is excellent in the title role, and his side-kick Morpho (Ricardo Valle) is suitably menacing, but the Inspector Tanner character is a joke, and the scenes of police "procedure" really drag this movie down. Disappointing overall knowing what Franco would achieve in later, more original movies, but still a reasonable way to waste a rainy afternoon.
As I ruminate over the matter right now, this is my favorite film of
the genre. The general consensus of this film's silliness does not
discourage me. Horror is the most cinematic of cinema avenues, and this
one works for me because it evokes a mood through atmosphere and
Ostensibly we have a story about a mad doctor who steals female bodies and uses their individual parts to patch up a unified whole. The real patching up lies in what Franco does here in regard to elements from horror past. We have Morpho, who is a composite of creatures: a Frankenstein, a Dracula, the deformed Karloff monster from The Raven. And we have Orlof, who embodies a myriad of established characters, notably Doctor Gogol from Mad Love.
And it's all wrapped up in the atmosphere of such Univeral classics. The atmosphere drips. This is a wonderful film.
Jess Franco's breakthrough film is a straight retelling of Yeux San Visage, albeit with some of the poetry removed and a more straightforward 'thriller' structure added. It's probably Franco's most 'normal' film, with only only a few of the the sleaze diversions that became the raison d'etre of his work from then until the present day. However, look closer and you can trace his obsession with nightclubs and mirrors (put to best effect in one scene in Vampyros Lesbos!) back to this film. Overall, a little on the long side for today's audiences, but a very important taboo-busting film at the time, and contains some very good cinematography, occasionally in an almost bava-esque style.
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