Plot: What’s it about?
When young Melissa (Agnes Spaak) ventures off to spend Christmas with her relatives, she has no idea just what the holiday season has in store. Her uncle is Dr. Conrad Fisherman (Marcelo Arroita-Jauregui), a scientist with a cold persona that freezes anyone around him, while her Aunt Ingrid (Luisa Sala) is always drunk, so it makes for a festive, very unique Christmas spirit, to say the very least. But given the past of these two people, it isn’t hard to understand why the mood is so unusual, as some darkness looms in their collective histories. A long while back, Conrad happened to walk in while she and Conrad’s own brother Andros (Hugo Blanco) were in the heat of passion, not the best of times to arrive unannounced. In a blind rage, he murdered Andros and this not only shook their lives, but also meant that Melissa would never know her own father. But soon, it is revealed that Conrad works for Dr. Orloff and as part of a scheme, he is raising Andros from the dead, as an automaton, with evil intentions. As this horrific creation stalks the streets, is anyone safe and what will become of those who helped bring the creature to life?
This sequel to The Awful Dr. Orloff doesn’t measure up to the original, but it is not a total disaster either, at least not most of the time. If I had to make one main complaint, it would be lack of action and while a slow pace has never bothered me, I expected a little more in terms of impact moments here. I guess it is because director Jess Franco is well known for his unusual touches, but I figured we’d a focus more on horror here, but this more of a mystery than anything, not really moving enough to be called a thriller. And as usual, Franco’s cast is wooden in most sequences and that seems to slow the pace even more, which is bad news with Dr. Orloff’s Monster. I do like the film on the whole, but more because of a select number of scenes, as opposed to the picture as a whole, which is a let down of sorts. With a brisker pace, or at least more of Franco’s trademark horror moments, Dr. Orloff’s Monster could have been a lot of fun, but as it stands, it is too slow and could put some viewers to sleep. I recommend this to fans of Franco’s work, but don’t expect his blood & breasts style here, more of an atmospheric mystery picture.
He was involved in perhaps more films than anyone else in cinema, but of course, not all (or even most) of Jess Franco’s films are well regarded. Then again, fans of horror and cult movies have to hold Franco in a good light, since he worked on so many worthwhile genre pictures, never shying away from the use of sex & blood. In fact, Franco sometimes shot his films twice, once with normal sex scenes and then again in hardcore format, like he with Female Vampire (aka Erotikill). Now Dr. Orloff’s Monster is not one of Franco’s more blood soaked or nudity laced efforts, it is more of a mystery, but Franco’s visual sense is still obvious. He often uses a slower pace to enhance the atmosphere, but usually follows that with some kind of punch, whereas here, the lack of impact lessens the experience. I know it is kind of bad to be let down by the lack of naked women and gore, but when we’re talkin’ Jess Franco, it is hard not to expect those elements, given his usual approach to cinema. Other films directed by Franco include Female Vampire, Vampyros Lesbos, White Cannibal Queen, and Ilsa The Wicked Warden.
Video: How does it look?
Dr. Orloff’s Monster is presented in a 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As with some of the Franco films in the Euroshock Collection, this one looks better than expected and at times, appears to be a brand new picture. The print used is always clean, but sometimes looks almost pristine, with very little defects to report. This means the black & white visuals can shine through, which they do and then some. I found the black levels to be nearly flawless here, which is excellent news, since contrast is the most important element in the visual equation. A terrific looking transfer for an older, low budget & low profile flick, kudos to Image on this one.
Audio: How does it sound?
You’ll find two audio options here, both in mono and both more than solid, with French & English language tracks present. I wasn’t wowed by either option, but both have more of a robust sound than expected, given the age & low budget roots involved. I heard very little in terms of hiss or harsh moments, as the audio seems to have aged well, or perhaps some kind of work was done to enhance it, I am not sure. The vocals seem clean, while music and sound effects come through well also, no reason to raise a fuss here. This disc also includes optional English subtitles, should you need those as you watch.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some deleted & alternate footage, as well as the film’s Italian & French theatrical trailers.