(A.k.a. LOS OJOS DEL DOCTOR ORLOFF; LOS OJOS SINIESTROS DEL DR ORLOFF).
The onscreen title is LOS OJOS DEL DOCTOR ORLOFF.
Melissa (Montserrat Prous) is a sexually repressed young brunette who hides herself away in a bedroom at her Uncle Henry's chateau. She's disturbed by recurring nightmares to the point that she no longer feels capable of facing the outside world.
No wonder she's so fucked up: the huge dwelling is also occupied by her sexually precocious stepsister Martha (Loreta Tovar), creepy butler Mathews (Jose Manuel Martin) who insists he must spy on Melissa for her own safety, and Flora (Kali Hansa), a stepmother of dubious motivation.
Melissa's suffering becomes so bad that Henry (Jaume Picas) feels compelled to invite his psychiatrist friend Orloff (William Berger) to attempt to help the young lady out. He specialises in "nervous system cases", after all ...
When Orloff finally arrives, he begins to quiz the wheelchair-bound Melissa about her dreams. They concern, among other things, her late father. At which point, Orloff confesses that not only did he know her father; he too was in love with his wife - her mother, also called Melissa!
But wait, Orloff has another revelation for the breathless Melissa: her father was murdered. Orloff vows to help Melissa unlock the secrets of her dreams, and uncover a truth that her family have been hiding from her.
Which is all good and well, until the bodies start piling up around our crippled heroine - and she begins to doubt her own sanity more than ever ...
Written and directed by Jesus Franco - he of KILLER BARBYS, SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY, THE AWFUL DR ORLOFF, THE BLOODY JUDGE and countless other Euroturds - SINISTER EYES holds the distinction of having been loosely remade by the director in 1986, some thirteen years after this rubbish first attempt. I've not seen the remake - SOLA ANTE EL TERROR - but have it on good authority that it's also a tedious load of bollocks.
This 1973 version is indeed as dull as dishwater. Although the organ-led score is fun in a cheesy, early Herschel Gordon Lewis manner, the remainder of the film offers virtually nothing of interest. Editing and continuity are as slack as the cinematography is ugly; performances are overwrought while managing to not even be amusingly so. Franco's script is uninspired and devoid of surprises. Atmosphere is limited to the occasional bump in the night. Those hoping for those staple ingredients of early 70s horror - gore and nudity - will be sorely disappointed too.
Mercifully short at only 76 minutes in length, the film is confusing, confused and arguably only worth seeing for cameos from Lina Romay and Edmund Purdom (the latter as a brilliantly arrogant police inspector).
This region 0 encoded DVD release is significant to many horror fans for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it marks what I believe is the world DVD debut of this Franco effort. Believe it or not, there are people out there who are crying out for increased availability of the prolific Spaniard's oeuvre.
Secondly, this - along with PAULA PAULA, a more recent Franco flick - marks the first foray into the DVD market for Intervision. Remember them, from the halcyon days of pre-certificate video? If you do, you'll no doubt be thrilled when the company's old ident opens up this disc (complete with VHS-style vertical lines and muffled audio).
Unfortunately, things don't get much better.
The animated main menu page features clips from the film as well as a snippet of the annoying English-language folk song featured midway through it, and is fair indication of the less-than-stellar quality to follow. The images look VHS quality, the audio is hardly what you'd describe as crystal clear ...
In fact, the main feature does indeed employ what appears to be a video transfer. Colours range between being deep and blurry, and decidedly washed out. Images are soft throughout. Although blacks are generally solid, it has to be said that quite a few scenes are too dark for enjoyment. A mild combing effect is also evident on occasion. Presented in 1.33:1 full-frame, the film also appears to be incorrectly framed (although I can find nothing on IMDb etc to substantiate this).
Spanish audio is provided in its original mono and is rather muddy. Thankfully (a) there is nothing in the way of troublesome background noise and (b) optional English subtitles are provided. The subtitles are generally okay, although they do bafflingly disappear on occasion (was the translator sleeping on the job?!).
Beyond the aforementioned main menu page, the film's static scene-selection menu contains just 4 chapters.
The only bonus feature on the disc is "The Sinister Origins of Dr Orloff", an onscreen interview with Franco. This is a generous retrospective clocking in at 18 minutes in length, which sees the director at ease - lounging back, puffing on cigarettes - and speaking in English about ... About what? Concentrate deeply and you just might be able to discern what it is that he's saying. Still, it's a welcome addition to the disc and is peppered by some very attractive artwork.
Overall though, this is a lacklustre release of a disappointing film, even by Franco standards.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Intervision Picture Corp|
|Region 1 - NTSC|
|see main review|