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You can say a lot of things about director Jess Franco (including negative things, mind you) but most of all, I'd like to think of him as a very clever filmmaker who always damn well knew where there was some easy money to earn! If there ever was a popular trend or franchise in horror cinema, you can bet your bottom dollar that Jess Franco was part of it or at least attempted to rapidly shoot a film that profited by this particular trend. In the early 80's, when the teen-slasher was immensely popular, Franco brutally hacked up young beauty queens in "Bloody Moon" and in the late 60's already, he also took over the "Fu Manchu" series. Here in this film, our beloved pal Jess further exploits the successful horror character of the evil "Dr. Mabuse", which was originally created by no less than the German top-director Fritz Lang.
"La Venganza del Doctor Mabuse" actually is one of Franco's better films of that period with delightfully twisted characters, stunning locations, truly beautiful camera-work and a terrific musical score. The story is of minor importance but it handles about the mean Dr. Mabuse and his accomplices stealing all kind of attributes from a National Research Institute (including female staff members) in order to complete his own, evil mind-control ray. Dr. Mabuse has this impressive and horribly scarred man-monster that kills for him while the entire police force desperately tries to catch him. This film is great and trashy entertainment, starring some incredibly beautiful cult-sirens like Ava Garden, Ewa Strömberg and Beni Cardoso...all wearing mini-skirts! The action sequences are a little grotesque, but Franco's directing is very stylish and surefooted. Many of Franco's later films suffer from overlong and tedious scenes but this effort is pure excitement from start to finish. Typical Franco trademarks also include that he makes references towards his earlier films (more particularly, "the Awful Dr. Orloff") and that he rewards himself with a small supportive role. Definitely one of the director's best films and simultaneously a great title to illustrate the class of early 70's euro-exploitation!
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