DR. ORLOFF’S MONSTER: Blu-ray
DR. ORLOFF’S MONSTER: Here’s my capsule review of the new Blu-ray release from Redemption Films
(C) Robert Monell:
Melissa (Agnes Spaak) arrives at the family castle in Holfen for a reading of her late father’s will. She is greeted by a local suitor (Pepe Rubio) and her uneasy Uncle, the scientist Dr. Fisherman (Marcel Aroita-Jauregui), who has just perfected a radio controlled creature, Andros (Hugo Blanco) who is actually his brother and the reanimated dead father of Melissa . Fisherman hides this fact from Melissa while sending Andros out on a murderous crime spree, targeting local women, who are performers in local nightclubs, as a way of proving his experiment works and of gaining satisfaction by acting out his hatred for women, which started when he caught his wife cheating on him with his brother.
This Blu-ray release is the French version (onscreen title LES MAITRESSSES DU DR. JEKYLL) with an added erotic insert which replaces the first murder scene in the Spanish version, EL SECRETO DEL DR. ORLOFF. Which means it’s still a murder scene depicting robot Andros killing a female employee of a local pub in Holfen, but the the actress who plays the victim in EL SECRETO… is replaced by a more scantily clad actress who performs a topless strip tease at the bar for a patron before she returns to her dressing room, disrobes further and is strangled by another body double who is supposed to be Andros. Another French version, broadcast by Australian’s SBS in the 1990s, has another erotic insert, depicting a second murder, featuring Jess Franco playing a piano in a sleazy hotel room while a female with him applies make up to a stuffed bird. She exits, goes up a flight of stairs, behind which Andros is lurking, and is strangled, again by a body double, as she takes a bath. Part of this scene, a view through a doorway of the victim’s unclothed body on the floor, remains in the eleven minutes of alternate, more sexually explicit, footage in the Special Features on the Redemption Blu-ray. Franco also plays a piano player in a nightclub in all other versions, as he does in his first horror film GRITOS EN LA NOCHE/THE AWFUL DR. ORLOF (1961). It’s obvious that Franco shot these alternate scenes, but not quite with the skill of the other, less explicit murders in the original Spanish versions, suggesting they were done quickly after being requested by the French co-producers (Eurocine aka Eurocineac) for the French market.
I noticed some details in this HD upgrade I hadn’t noticed over the course of many viewings, in particular the rough textured, cracked, dry skin of Andros mentioned by Tim Lucas in the very informative commentary. The exotic-erotic dance performances in the special features folder are full strength Euro-trashy, more Eurocine than Jess Franco. It fails the Howard Hawks test of a good film–three good scenes, no bad scenes (there are a number of very bad scenes)–but it’s very much worth seeing as a progress report. The main problem I have with the film itself is the beefy Spanish actor who plays Dr. Fisherman/Jekyll, he’s just a very bland performer and adds an unwelcome note of unintentional absurdity which breaks the somber mood. A horror film is as good as its villain and this has one of Franco’s most uninteresting villains. It’s a pretty rough hewn print, with noticeable scratches and marks throughout but the enhanced detail, commentary and additional scenes make it a worthwhile purchase. Transfer/video & Audio: B: Bonus material: B; Film: B-.