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Latarnia presents CASTILIAN CRIMSON
The Spanish Horror Film

LOS OJOS SINIESTROS DEL DR. ORLOFF

1973

 

Director: Jesus Franco
Screenplay: Jesus Franco
Music: Jesus Franco
Cast: Montserrat Prous, William Berger, Robert Woods, Edmund Purdom, Kali Hansa, Loretta Tovar, Lina Romay, Jesus Franco
Running time: 82 minutes
Eastmancolor

   

The Eyes. The penetrating eyes of the seemingly kindly Dr. Orloff glare into Melissa's very soul as his soothing voice drones on and on. Melissa Comfort (Montserrat Prous) is a crippled young woman living with her wicked witch relatives (Kali Hansa and Loretta Tovar). Melissa is disturbed by recurring dreams of her father (played by director Franco) dying in front of her, dribbling blood onto her nightgown. What she doesn't realize is that her relatives have a hidden agenda and her relatives aren't aware of Orloff's own sinister plans to wipe out the remnants of the Comfort family.

William Berger is well cast as the evil Doctor who controls Melissa with hypnosis and drugs. His presence and Franco's whistling, haunting score cast a spell over the proceedings which is only broken by the rather abrupt happy ending. This psychological horror film is deliberately paced but absorbing throughout. There's no sex or nudity and stylistically it is almost zoom-free, a break from Franco's other early 1970s sex-horror projects.

Montserrat Prous is a Lina Romay look-alike who is excellent at playing innocent victims of evil plots (cf. 1972's UN SILENCIO DE TUMBA), one wonders what ever happened to her after her mid-70s association with Franco. In the end, though, this is Berger's film. All he has to do is walk into a room and our attention is riveted.

The theme of an innocent woman turned into a programmed killer was a familiar one for Franco (see MISS MEURTE, SUCCUBUS, LES CAUCHEMARS NAISSENT LA NUIT, AL OTRO LADO DEL ESPEJO and MIL SEXOS TIENE LA NOCHE for comparison) and this particular film was remade in 1983 as SOLO ANTE EL TERROR with Romay taking over the role of Melissa.

The film's most atmospheric scene occurs on a mist shrouded road where Melissa murders her loyal butler (Jose Manuel Martin). Franco also uses the exotic vegetation of the Canary Islands locations to maximum effect. Robert Woods and Edmund Purdom are on hand to act out some last minute heroics, and look for Lina in the very small role of Woods' jealous girlfriend.

-- Reviewed by Robert Monell