22 January, 2007


Born in Chaco, Argentina in 1937, today is the 70th birthday of Hugo Blanco, probably best known to Jess Franco fans as Andros, the radio controlled zombie who is DR. ORLOFF'S MONSTER [US title of EL SECRETO DEL DR ORLOFF-1964]. Blanco is perhaps even more impressive as the tormented killer Ludwig Von Klaus in Franco's 1962 THE SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS.

Blanco subsequently appeared in a number of Italian-Spanish westerns such as UP THE MCGREGORS, TEXAS ADDIO and THE UGLY ONES. He projects a very intense, unsettling presence, at least in the few Spanish genre films in which I have seen him.

According to the IMBD, his last film role was in 1991.

A variation on Morpho (Ricardo Valle), Dr. Orlof's surgically created robot in GRITOS EN LA NOCHE/THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF (1961), Andros would return, played by different actors, in LA VENGANZA DEL DOCTOR MABUSE (1970) and EL SINIESTRO DR. ORLOFF(1982), lumbering through the the 1970s and 80s as the director's favorite mindless henchmen of mad scientists. Other variations on the Morpho/Andros characters can be found assisting more mad scientists in Franco's SADISTEROTICA (1967)and FACELESS(1988), respectively played by Michel Lemoine and Gerard Zalcberg.

Although these later films borrow heavily from the earlier b&w Orloff films they illustrate the evolution of Franco's style as he recycles the same characters and plot situations in compeletly different aesthetic environments, moving from German Expressionism (GRITOS...) to A CLOCKWORK ORANGE era stylization (LA VENGANZA...) to the tropical delirium of his Golden Films Internacional period (EL SINIESTRO...). Who says all Jess Franco films look the same?

LA VENGENZA DEL DOCTOR MABUSE and EL SINIESTRO DR. ORLOFF are not presently available in R1 DVD presentations with multiple language options. Let's hope that changes in the future.

(c) Robert Monell, 2007

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