Decent early offering from Jess Franco. This is easily the smoothest, least flawed Franco film I've seen, yet it's also the least interesting. The production and photography are of a higher quality than his later works, yet the story feels less ambitious and more generic. Though somewhat disappointing, the overall aesthetic is certainly less frustrating than latter day Franco, and has some intriguing similarities to some later Italian horrors. I'd bet that Bloody Pit of Horror and Baron Blood were both more than a little inspired by this film, though each take their similar premise in radically different directions. Though the characters often refer to supernatural phenomena, Franco eschews much of that gothic imagery for some suspense and murder sequences straight out of a giallo (viewers wanting to see something of that ilk should check out Bava's Baron Blood). The murder mystery is fairly engaging and managed to keep me off the scent with a fair share of red herrings, but I can't say it was up there with the best of them. The ending, though, was curiously reminiscent of the later A Virgin Among the Living Dead, both visually and thematically. It occurred to me as I watched that all of the three Franco films I've watched recently (this, A Virgin Among the Living Dead, and Female Vampire) share some strong thematic connections, strengthening the reading of Franco as an auteur. Most significant is the cursed family and tragic killer. I plan to watch more Franco films now to see if any more connections occur to me. I have seen The Bloody Judge but barely remember a thing about it. In the meantime, my final word on this film is that it's decent but lacks the artistic ambition of a later work like A Virgin Among the Living Dead that would warrant repeat viewing.