The Awful Dr. Orlof!

Posted by drew On October - 28 - 20101,783 views

“The Awful Dr. Orlof” represents an early effort by Jess Franco.  While it’s more polished than later efforts, he’s signature peversions are on full display. The plot concerns the titular mad doctor using a blind killer to kidnap voluptous young women.  The purpose. To graft their skin onto his disfigured sister! I guess the mad scientist union’s medical insurance doesn’t cover family members.

http://www.imagesjournal.com/issue09/reviews/franco/pic1.jpg

The movie stars Howard Vernon as Orlof and he’s a really game horror movie villain.  He’s got a face that looks like boiled beef and an overly nervous demeanor.  Yet, he still manages to ooze class even when he’s perving up a scene.  While being a Franco favorite, Vernon was never a top tier horror star like some of his contemporaries.  Which is a shame, because in a better world, the guy could have been another Vincent Price or Christopher Lee.

The blind lunatic Morpho(Ricardo Valle) however, has camp appeal only.  With his mop top and black suit, he heavily resembles a homicidal John Lennon.  Only this Beatle looklike doesn’t want to hold your hand.  He wants to bite out your throat. It sounds scarier than it actually is.  Scenes probably intended to be shocking and gruesome end up being amusing.  Which has an odd appeal to those of us who love cheeseball horror as much as the good stuff.

The movie has a lot of atmosphere.  Clearly intending to copy both the silent horror movies of yore and the Hammer movies that were currently in the theaters.  While none of this lends to an original flavor, it does have dreamy quality to it. Which helps the off beat story go down better. These kinds of horror movies only loosely take place in the real world. They’re more like nightmares caught on film.  Narrative be damned.
Unlike a lot of folks, I’m not a Franco devotee.  But I am a fan of this movie. It represents a bridge between the gothic horrors of the early to mid 20th century and the slasher movies that populated the later half.  Any monster kid or horror buff would do well to add this one to their collection.

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