Awful Dr. Orloff, The (1962)

Awful Dr. Orloff, The (1962)

“I’m fascinated by your skin.”

Awful Dr. Orloff Poster

With the help of his blind assistant Morpho (Ricardo Valle), a doctor (Howard Vernon) kidnaps beautiful women and brings them back to his castle, where he kills them and removes their skin in an attempt to restore the face of his disfigured daughter (Diana Lorys). Meanwhile, an inspector (Conrado San Martin) receives help from his plucky fiancee (also Diana Lorys) in discovering the identity of the killer.


“Eurotrash” director Jess Franco‘s direct rip-off of Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face (1960) — with elements of James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931) thrown in — remains a surprisingly enjoyable (if inferior) thriller. With highly atmospheric cinematography and sets, eerie make-up, creative direction, and a feisty, sexy female protagonist — one who knowingly puts herself in harm’s way to help solve her fiance’s mystery — this mad-doctor/amateur sleuth tale delivers enough entertainment to make it worth a look. Given Stuart Galbraith IV’s statement that “Franco showed some promise in his earliest films but by the late 1960s his movies became worse than amateurish, marked by out-of-focus camerawork, incoherent editing, incessant yet pointless use of zoom lenses, and unseemly yet decidedly unarousing voyeurism and exhibitionism”, it seems to me film fanatics should probably consider this their once-and-done Franco viewing.

Note: As far as I can tell, the only other Franco title listed in Peary’s book is Barbed Wire Dolls (1976), one among many women-in-prison flicks he apparently made later in his career.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Wonderfully atmospheric b&w cinematography
    Awful Dr. Orloff Cinematography
  • Effective sets
    Awful Dr. Orloff Sets2
  • Creative direction
    Awful Dr. Orloff Direction2
  • Morpho’s creepy make-up
    Awful Dr. Orloff Morpho2
  • An innovative score

Must See?
Yes, as a cult film by a cult director.



One thought on “Awful Dr. Orloff, The (1962)

  1. First viewing. A once-must, for its cult status.

    I’m in complete agreement with the spot-on assessment – so I have little to add.

    Once this movie starts, you may get the feeling that you’re in for a low-budget piece of disappointment. Soon enough, though, you’ll then sense that’s not the case. As stated, it’s derivative as hell – but it has a certain original zest of its own anyway.

    What I saw was the version dubbed in English – which is surprisingly well-done, with care. The voices sound very appropriate, and sometimes seem to have a knowing sense of humor (a nice touch).

    As well, the plot takes a welcome/surprising turn near the end. Ultimately, though it’s nothing wildly memorable, the film is bound to keep your attention while you’re watching.

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