Thursday, July 30, 2009

Day 196 - The Awful Dr. Orlof (1962) - Rank 3/5


I remember hearing this film's title as a youth and thinking: "Awesome! It sounds like 'The Abominable Dr. Phibes!" I came to learn later that it was not a film in the vein of the Phibes films, largely because it precedes them by a decade. Yet the horror flick doesn't feel too terribly original either. The script was obviously influenced, to a very high degree, by "Eyes Without a Face," which preceded "The Awful Dr. Orlof" by two years.

Like its predecessor, the story surrounds a mad doctor who repeatedly kidnaps beautiful women so he can attempt to graft their faces onto his "horribly disfigured" daughter (which, after watching "The Oblong Box" and then this film, I'm beginning to wonder if filmmakers have any idea what "horribly disfigured" means. When I'm expecting a countenance that will make me wince, I just get a mug with a dash of liquid latex and rigid collodion). Anyway, he employs the use of a blind henchman, whose strangling abilities hinge entirely on the fact that the woman will keep screaming and that she won't hastily dart around furniture. There's also a henchwoman/lover that lives about as long as it takes Dr. Orlof to blather out the exposition on how she came to be under his employ, and an incompetent inspector who bungles his way into saving the day. The daughter does absolutely nothing - a waste.

The film isn't so much of a letdown as it is mediocre. The cinematographer, one Godofredo Pacheco, utilized high contrast lighting and Dutch angles enough to keep the film fairly atmospheric (to a degree that I found reminiscent of the work that Conrad Hall did for "The Outer Limits"). But the story never offers any real suspense or surprises (save one of the earliest, needless "titty shots" in a horror film that I can recall). It did leave me with a yearning to watch "Eyes Without a Face" again, but I don't think that was the intent.

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