The Awful Dr. Orloff (Gritos en la noche) (1964)
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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. 3 Stars 1-28-14
One of Franco's greatest (and earliest films), Orloff blends the gothic vibe of Hammer and early Bava with an early incarnation of Franco's depraved form of surrealism. As Tim Lucas's included essay on the film states, Franco rips off a variety of sources for this film, most notably Franju's brilliant Eyes Without a Face. While it is derivative it many ways, Franco makes the story his own by injecting the film with noirish, gothic shots, brutal scenes, and nudity that is truly surprising for this early in the 60s.
Crazy discordant jazz soundtrack and topless women. Murder Mystery solved by plucky ballerina and drunk Zeppo Marx. Clouseau IS a genius next to Tanner, proving the French police force to be total idiots! Watch for Johnny Rotten cameo as a crazy man
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