24 December, 2009

A Christmas Eve Movie by Jess Franco


Jess Franco's Robot Monster is coming home for the Holidays!





The ghastly, and probably close-to-home for survivors of dysfunctional families/children of alcoholics, Christmas Eve depicted in Jess Franco's DR. ORLOFF'S MONSTER is one of the best scenes in this bleak family-centered science fiction thriller from 1964 and one of the most sobering Christmas Eve scenes ever. It makes one grateful for what one has in life. A good double bill with Frank Capra's IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE... really!


I have had the experience of seeing the rare, Spanish language EL SECRETO DEL DR. ORLOFF off a projected film print. Thanks to Francesco Cesari and Alain Petit. I wish them and all the blog readers a wonderful Christmas Holiday!


I'll be back in the following days with my selections for the Best Films/DVDs of 2009. It looks like 2010 will be a much better year for Jess Franco on DVD than 2009 was.


Robert Monell (c) 2009





21 comments:

dfordoom said...

I have that one! Or at least I think I do. My copy is called Dr. Jekyll's Mistresses, but I'm pretty sure it's the same movie (I get a little confused by the Dr Orloff movies that seem to have even more alternative titles than most Franco films). I really should get around to watching it!

Robert Monell said...

ekyll's Mistresses

That's the French alternate title/vrsion of DR. ORLOF'S MONSTER. There are three different versions. The Spanish version EL SECRETO DEL DR. ORLOF, has a different credit sequence than the French and the US DR. ORLOF'S MONSTER, with a sequence of shots under the credits not in the other two. Otherwise EL SECRETO and DR. ORLOF'S MONSTER have the same content outside of the different voice tracks. The French version, post produced by Eurocine has a few new inserted scenes which replace scenes in EL SECRETO and DR. ORLOF'S... . I prefer EL SECRETO, [which has no video/DVD release I'm aware of] and the English dubbed DR. ORLOF'S MONSTER.

Anonymous said...

Your opinion is useful

Revelator said...

I love DR. ORLOFF's MONSTER, it'my favourite b&w Franco-film. The English dub is exceptionally good. Italian thrillers and Franco's works tend to suffer from poor English voice tracks, but this little chiller's dubbing was handled with care. Any info on the people, voice actors responsible for it?

dfordoom said...

I've just watched Dr. Jekyll's Mistresses/Dr Orloff's Monster, and it is a great film, and yes definitely very bleak!

Robert Monell said...

Franco's works tend to suffer from poor English voice tracks, but this little chiller's dubbing was handled with care. Any info on the people, voice actors responsible for it?

I haven't heard the English dub in a few years. It seemed pretty good as these things go. Some are terrible. I don't know who dubbed it. Maybe TITRA or one of those studios.

Robert Monell said...

I've just watched Dr. Jekyll's Mistresses/Dr

What was the onscreen title? The one with Dr. Jekyll has the inserts which the Spanish lang vers and the English dub doesn't.

dfordoom said...

The actual onscreen title was Dr Jekyll's Mistresses. It's the Region 2 Arrow Films DVD. Rather good picture quality, but no extras. But I picked it up for almost nothing, so I'm pretty pleased with it!

scott said...

Interestingly enough, no one is asking about the film print! Was this one copied onto cdr or were you sent the film print you projected onto something yourself? Do let us know!

wow

scott said...

oops - I meant DVDR duh.

Alex Bakshaev said...

I much prefer "Dr Jekyll's Mistresses" to "The Awful Dr. Orloff", it's a lot more effective because the Monster is such a tragic figure here. Also the framing is very pleasing.
I own both the Arrow R2 DVD and the Image NTSC "Dr Orloff's Monster".
Looks like the US DVD is missing a tiny bit of picture off top and bottom.
Also the music over the opening credits of "Mistresses" and "Monster" varies slightly.
Haven't had the chance to enjoy the Spanish version, but I rather enjoy the Eurocine inserts. The one with Franco seems to have sound effects missing. He seems to fire a gun or something(hard to tell) at the bottom of the steps, but there's no sound.

dfordoom said...

I prefer "Dr Jekyll's Mistresses" to "The Awful Dr. Orloff" as well.

Alex Bakshaev said...

I kept hearing "The Awful Dr. Orloff" was such a classic but found it underwhelming even on repeat viewings.
I don't like Conrado San Martin's inspector and Diana Lorys had a more interesting part on "Nightmares come at night".
WIth similar Franco films there's always a temptation of drawing comparisons, and in this case I would say that "Jack the Ripper" with Kinski is more effective than "The Awful Dr. Orloff", despite having a very similar storyline.

dfordoom said...

I was just a tiny bit disappointed by Franco's Jack the Ripper. I felt he should have gone much more over-the-top. Especially with Kinski as his star. But it's worth seeing just for Lina Romay's performance, and her saucy night-club routine! She really seemed to be enjoying herself in that movie.

Alex Bakshaev said...

She really seemed to be enjoying herself in that movie.

-Oh, "Jack the Ripper" was my first Lina Romay experience, extraordinary! I think Lina mentions liking that role in some interview.I love visual style of the film, its gloom. Also the scene where Klaus is struggling with desire to stab his landlady is remarkable.
I agree Kinski is restrained, but he never really went mad in Jess' films, to my knowledge. He's *ahem* "subtle" in "Venus in Furs" and "Count Dracula", too.

dfordoom said...

Franco got good performances out of Kinski. And while everyone else seems to have found him a nightmare to work with, Franco apparently got on quite well with him and remembers him rather fondly. I thought he was superb as Renfield in Count Dracula.

As for Lina, Jack the Ripper was an opportunity for her to show she could handle what was essentially a comic role, and do it with style.

I thought the movie itself was one of Franco's attempts to do relatively straightforward, almost mainstream, horror. Rather like his Count Dracula. I guess I just prefer Franco when he's being either silly and fun, or doing the trippy erotic horror thing.

Alex Bakshaev said...

I thought he was superb as Renfield in "Count Dracula".

Well yeah, Kinski is the most memorable performer in "Count", although I'm not too fond of the film as a whole. Great cast and visually interesting yet missing that little extra which smaller-scale Francos can offer.

Perhaps "Jack the Ripper" isn't the most essential Franco but that's why I'm champinoning it, - it's often the underdog that gets my vote))

dfordoom said...

It's strange that Franco's Count Dracula doesn't quite come off, because it has so much going for it. Not just Kinski, but it has Christopher Lee giving his finest ever performance as the Count. And it has Herbert Lom!

I think the problem was that Franco was trying to be a bit too respectable. And maybe a bit too respectful of the literary source. He downplayed the erotic elements too much, but by far the most interesting thing about Stoker's novel is the perverse eroticism. But he was apparently given a fairly big budget, so he was probably constrained by the producers who wanted something that would get a broad general theatrical release.

But it's a tribute to Franco that even his flawed movies are fascinating, and worth discussing!

Robert Monell said...

Franco always seems to repeat or return to the same narratives/plots/themes. But what he develops them in new ways each time. I've said this before but I really find that in Franco style is content, rather than vice-versa. It's not the story he's telling, it's the mode of his telling. The story of JACK THE RIPPER is well known. Franco ignores the historical facts pretty much, especially the ending. But it's about a kind of double of the Ripper. Franco creates this doppelgangers of Sade, Dracula, the Ripper, Frankenstein and puts them in his visual dimension.

In EL CONDE DRACULA Lee is indeed great as is Kinski. I like such elements as the fake bats, the Nicolai score, but I don't return to the film itself. It doesn't suceed as either a Dracula film or a Franco film as does, say, DRACULA PRISONER OF FRANKENSTEIN. It was made for sale to US television in mind, where I first saw it in the early 1970s and hated it.

dfordoom said...

It's such a pity Franco never got the chance to use Christopher Lee as Dracula in a real full-blooded Jess Franco version of the novel. Christopher Lee apparently had been very excited by the fact that Franco was the first director who allowed him to play the role the way he always felt it should be played (and it turned out that both Franco and Lee were absolutely correct in their idea of how the part needed to be approached).

Of course the difficulty would have been that a real Jess Franco Dracula adaptation might have (in fact almost certainly would have) involved more sex and nudity than Christopher Lee would have been prepared to accept. But they seemed to get on quite well, despite their very different temperaments, so maybe they could have reached a compromise.

Incidentally I still haven't seen Dracula Prisoner of Frankenstein. The image Entertainment DVD is the only one that seems to be available, but I'd heard it wasn't a particularly good DVD release. On the other hand it's fairly cheap, so probably I should grab it anyway!

Robert Monell said...

tingly enough, no one is asking about the film print! Was this one copied onto cdr or were you sent the film print you projected onto something yourself? Do let us know!

Scott, good question. It was a DVDR of a film projection. It looks like it was taken right off a screen, it has a real film quality and resonates as if in a theater.

racula Prisoner of Frankenstein. The image Entertainment DVD is the only one that seems to be available, but I'd heard it wasn't a particularly good DVD release. On the other hand it's fairly cheap, so probably I should grab it anyway!

I would pick the IMAGE up for now dfordoom. The correct 2.35:1 RATIO is better reflected in the grey market version which can be had from several US companies, but it has the narration.

BTW, did I say that I like the restrained Kinski in JACK. It's more effective that way for me.