Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 14th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Spain, 1973
Director: Jesus Franco
Writer: Jesus Franco
Cast: William Berger, Montserrat Prous, Edmund Purdom, Loreta Tovar, Kali Hansa, Joaquín Blanco, José Manuel Martín, Jaume Picas, Lina Romay, Robert Woods, Jesus Franco
DVD released: February 8th, 2011
Approximate running time: 76 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Spanish
DVD Release: Intervision Picture Corp.
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: A woman questions her sanity after a series of bizarre events and deaths engulf her life.
The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff was written and directed by Jess Franco, who’s other notable films include Venus in Furs, Vampyros Lesbos and Sinner: The Secret Diary of a Nymphomaniac. The one thing that Jess Franco is known most for is how he recycle ideas and characters. The Orloff character originated in Jess Franco’s 1962 film The Awful Dr. Orloff and since that film there have been numerous sequels. He would even remake The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff in 1986 under the title Alone Against the Terror. Even though he originated the Orloff character there have been two sequels that were directed by other filmmakers, The Orgies of Dr. Orloff and Orloff Against the Invisible Dead. Besides Jess Franco the other constant in the Orloff series was actor Howard Vernon. The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff was one of the few times he was not cast in the role of Orloff.
Content wise The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff is more of a psychological thriller than a Gothic / horror film like Jess Franco’s first two Orloff films. Another area in which The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff differs from those two aforementioned Orloff film’s is its visual style which for the most part is subdued. With the only atmospheric moment being a scene that takes place in fog. Even the dream / nightmare sequences lack the potency that is rampant in Franco more atmospheric films. Another drawback of The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff is its lethargic pacing. And while I wasn’t expecting an ample amount of nudity. I was underwhelmed by the lack of bloodshed. This film’s strongest assets is its leading lady Montserrat Prous (Sinner), as a paralyzed young woman named Melissa. This film’s most disappointing performance is easily William Berger (Face to Face), in the role of Dr. Orloff. He lacks the charisma and intensity that Howard Vernon brought to the role. Overall The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff is a middle of road Jess Franco film that most exploitation film fan will find tedious to get through.
Intervision Picture Corp. presents The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff in a 4:3 full frame aspect ratio. Judging by the framing and how some of the credits are slightly out of frame. It would appear that this film’s intended aspect ratio should be 1.66:1 and no the 4:3 full frame aspect ratio that the film is presented in for this release. The source used for this transfer does not look like film elements and most likely VHS sourced. The image looks soft, colors look muted, black levels are murky and there are some mild instances of combing.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in Spanish and removable English subtitles have been included. Even though there are no major issues with distortion or background noise. Range wise the audio is very limited and at times things sound muffled.It should be noted that there is a issue related to the subtitles in which there are a few instances were dialog is not translated. Most notably during a three minute stretch (29:32 – 32:32) in which no dialog is translated.
Extras for this release are limited to a 18 1/2 minute interview with Jess Franco, who discusses the Orloff films and the cast. Jess Franco for this interview speaks in English and at times it is difficult to discern what he is saying. Having him speak in his native tongue with English subtitles or at least adding English subtitles to the existing interview both would have been preferable. Overall The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff gets a serviceable DVD release from Intervision Picture Corp., that is highlighted by an informative interview with Jess Franco.