04 February, 2017

DR. ORLOFF'S MONSTER (Jess Franco, 1964) Redemption Films Blu-ray

Onscreen title: LES MAITRESSES DU DR. JEKYLL/1964/B&W/84m/1920X1080p (1.66.1)

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 butt the enhanced detail, commentary, corrected framing and additional footage make it a worthwhile purchase. Transfer/video &  audio: B minus, Bonus material: C+; Film: B minus. The fact that it is missing an insert seen in some previous releases is the big minus and collectors may want to hold onto the IMAGE DVD release of this title which does contain that footage.*
Directed by Jess Franco (Jess Franck)
Produced by Marius Lesoeru (Eurocine, Paris; Spain)
Cast: Agnes Spaak, Marcelo Arriota-Jauregui, Hugo Blanco, Pastor Serrador, Perla Cristal, Pepe Rubio, Magda Moldonado, Miguel Madrid
France/Sp[ain 1964 B&W 84 Min.
1920x1080p (1.66:1)
French soundtrack with optional English subtitles
English language soundtrack
Audio Commentary by Tim Lucas
Eleven minutes of alternate, erotic footage. 
French, Italian theatrical trailers

Below: alternate scene included in the French version featuring a different actress as the first victim of Andros, who is also portrayed by a body double. This scene is not in  EL SECRETO DEL DOCTOR ORLOFF, the Spanish version, where the  fully clothed victim is strangled as she sits at a bar in a jazz club and it is not present in the English language export version, DR. ORLOFFS MONSTER, which was distributed as a television version and released on VHS by Something Weird Video. Obviously, this was inserted at the behest of French co-producer Eurocine and likely filmed by Jess Franco himself.  An example of spicing up a film for a specific market. unnamed

* It should be noted that there are at least four separate versions of this title, including the Spanish language EL SECRETO DEL DR. ORLOFF which contains footage exclusive to this edit, including an alternate opening credits sequence, with Spanish titles, under which Dr. Fisherman is shown entering and walking through the house of Dr. Orloff as he prepares for their meeting. This footage is not in any other released version.  DOCTOR ORLOFF'S MONSTER, the US television cut, opens with a still shot of a footbridge outside of the Orloff mansion over which the credits role (Directed by "John Frank"). It also does not include two "nudie-roughie" style murder sequences added for the French release. 
 The French version just presents the opening credits in French over a graphic background. There are two inserted scenes, shot later by Franco at the request of Eurocine, which feature alternate murder footage not seen in the Spanish or US versions. One of these additional sequences is not included on the Blu-ray, either as part of the film or in the eleven minutes of alternate, more sexually explicit, footage. 

Some versions, including the one broadcast in Australia by SBS and the IMAGE DVD,  have another complete murder sequence where Jess Franco appears playing a piano just before Andros (an obvious double) conducts another home-invasion murder of a woman taking a bath. Why this isn't included on the Blu-ray is anyone's guess, but it may not have been provided by the right's holder. It may be a technical issue. This insert was obviously filmed by Franco since he appears in the scene, he also appears as a different nightclub piano player in another unrelated scene. 

This HD release is also more accurately framed at 1.66:1 than the IMAGE DVD, which appears to be window-boxed, losing image on all four sides. 

(C) Robert Monell, 2017.  

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