Thursday, June 12, 2014

DOCTOR ORLOFF'S MONSTER: From Germany, In English

Just watched the new German release of DR. ORLOFF'S MONSTER (1964) called Die Lebenden Leichen des Doktor Jekyll ("The Living Corpses of Doctor Jekyll"), released by Edition Tonfilm. English-speaking Franco fans will be interested to learn that it runs a bit longer than the Image Entertainment release (85m 18s as opposed to 84m 53s; I'm not sure what was added) and offers the English soundtrack (previously limited to a French Mad Movies release), as well as German and French tracks. To see the film uncut and in English is something special, as the US release didn't include any of the nude scenes.

Seeing the film again for the first time in several years, I found myself looking at some scenes I had completely forgotten (like Dr. Fisherman's visit to an opium den) and more impressed with it than previously, perhaps a result of the English track. Another thing that took me by surprise with this viewing were the similarities of Melissa's homecoming to her uncle's castle and Christina's advent into the same predicament in A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD (1971). The character of the aunt played here by Luisa Sala is very similar to Rose Kienkens' character in VIRGIN and, of course, both families consist of killers and corpses! Though not a complete success, this is an ambitious film of its station and a stylistic advance beyond THE AWFUL DR. ORLOF (1962, with which it shares some exteriors and interiors), with Perla Cristal's nightclub performance a particular standout of staging and the tender relationship between Melissa (Agnes Spaak) and the robotized corpse of her late father (Hugo Blanco) looking forward to another important Spanish horror film yet to come: Victor Erice's THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE (El espĂ­ritu de la colmena, 1973). 

The disc includes the 11 minutes of nude outtakes that Image included, and as a nice bonus, it adds on the French and Italian trailers (content is identical) and a pinkish Super 8 sound version of THE AWFUL DR ORLOF called THE DEMON DOCTOR, which runs 16m 41s and includes the original (non-nude) surgical sequence. For some reason, though it's in English and opens with the film's BBFC certificate, the Super 8's main titles are from the Italian version, the one with the fake Anglicized credits like "Regia di Walter Alexander." It makes for quite a happy, nostalgic, if pleasingly dirty package.

I obtained this fine product from the good folks at Diabolik DVD. Here are some frame grabs from the main feature and the Super 8 film: 

I had forgotten it's a Christmas picture! Here is Franco's idea of how to decorate a tree!

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