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Gritos en la Noche

The Awful Dr. Orlof

Spain/France 1962
produced by
Marius Lesoeur, Leo Lax, Serge Newman for Eurociné, Producciones Cinematográficas Hispamer Films
directed by Jess Franco
starring Howard Vernon, Conrado San Martin, Diana Lorys, Ricardo Valle, Perla Crystal
written by Jess Franco, music by José Pagán, Antonio Ramírez Ángel, María Silva, Mara Laso, Venancio Muro, Félix Dafauce, Faustino Cornejo, Manuel Vázquez, Juan Antonio Riquelme, Fernando Montes, Elena María Tejeiro, Javier de Rivera, Ángel Calero, Fernando Sala, Laly Vicent, José Carlos Arévalo, Juan García Tiendra, Jess Franco, Pilar Gómez Ferrer, Mercedes Manero, Amy Márquez, María de la Riva, Mari Carmen Ruiz

Dr. Orloff

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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In only 3 months, 5 women have disappeared, & it is up to Inspector Tanner (Conrado San Martin) to crack the case, even though his only clue are some sightings of a terribly disfigured blind hunchback (Ricardo Valle). Meanwhile the mysterious Doctor Orlof (Howard Vernon) sweettalks a woman of, at best, "doubtful morals". Slightly drunk, she tells him "To get rid of me, you have to kill me." Much to her surprise, that's exactly what Orlof has in mind, his associate Morpho - aforementioned hunchback - waiting just around the corner. Truth is, Orlof needs the woman's skin to transplant it onto his sister's (Diana Lorys)  face, terribly disfigured by an accident - the thing is, all his patients of course die. Meanwhile, with the help of his ballerina girlfriend (Diana Lorys again), Tanner's investigations make slight progress, but it isn't until she roams the streets undercover, dressed up as a prostitute, that they can actually find out Orlof. But of course, Orlof has also found out her, & due to a matter of miscommunication, he abducts her when she is lacking backup. & she is about to die on the operating-table too, would it not be at this point that Morpho starts rebelling against his master, killing him & abducting Lorys himself until finally being shot down a castle wall by the police before worse can happen.

 

Much of director Jess Franco's output has been ridiculed - mostly unfairly, as I might add - & described as inferior schlock. This, however, is a film that deserves to be considered as a true classic of horror cinema. Spurred by the success that Hammer's Gothics at the time had throughout Europe, Franco & his production company Eurociné decided to produce something similar in Spain - a novelty back then, this being one of the first horror-movies ever produced there. The outcome was this Gothic remake of Les Yeux sans Visage - inofficially of course -, that stylistically owed as little to this movie though as it did to the Hammer Gothics, instead Franco brought in his own style of directing, a cinematic language full of odd angles, unusual camera movements, zooms & extreme close-ups, creating a nightmarish world all of its own, which would fully compensate for the (even back then) overly clichéd, meager script (a script which Franco would nevertheles remake numerous times, the most famous versions being Jack the Ripper & Faceless). To put in simpler words, Gritos en la Noche is a masterpiece in style & atmosphere, the work of a true auteur !

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD