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Dr. Orloff

Related: film - exploitation film - European exploitation - Jess Franco

Howard Vernon is the The Awful Dr. Orloff (1962) - Jess Franco
Image sourced here. [Dec 2005]

Howard Vernon (1914 - 1996)

Howard Vernon (15 July 1914 - 25 July 1996), real name Mario Lippert, was a Swiss actor. He was born to a swiss father and an American mother and could speak fluently German, English and French. Originally a stage and radio actor, he worked primarily in France and became a well-known supporting actor after 1945 by playing villainous naziofficers in French films. Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Silence de la mer, in which he played a gentle anti-nazi German officer, made him somewhat famous, but, in part due to his looks and swiss accent, he was subsequently relegated to playing gangsters and heavies.

In the 1960s, he became a favorite actor of Spanish horror director Jesus Franco (Aka Jess Franco) and began starring in many low-budget horror movies, produced in Spain or in France. He kept making increasingly small appearances in high-profile movies while often getting top billing in many Z-grade horror films. He remained active until his death. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Vernon [Dec 2005]

See also: horror film - 1962 - Spain - Jess Franco - Dr. Orloff - Les Yeux sans Visage

The Awful Dr. Orlof (1962) - Jesus Franco

Phoenix: The Courtesans: The Demi-Monde in 19th-Century France - Joanna Richardson [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Jesús Franco, Spain's crazed cult auteur, had made a couple of features before The Awful Dr. Orloff, but this infamous thriller (reportedly Spain's first horror film) gave birth to Franco's brand of erotic horror and surreal madness. The story of a mad surgeon who kidnaps and disfigures beautiful showgirls in an attempt to restore the face of his scarred daughter is right out of George Franju's Eyes Without a Face. The style, however, is a mix of foggy Universal monster movies and sexed-up Hammer horror, which Franco pushes to the limits of Spain's 1960s censorship restrictions (and beyond). Gaunt, hollowed Howard Vernon plays the sadistic surgeon Orloff (a role he revived in a number of sequels), and Ricardo Valle dons a phony but freaky mask to play his grunting, blind, bug-eyed henchman, Morpho, who has a savage habit of taking a big bite of the victims.

It's a smooth, elegantly orchestrated thriller with handsome sets and vivid locations, and the fogbound cobblestone streets, dark alleys, and eerily empty mansions create a genuinely spooky ambiance. He also tosses in a wild, creepy, thoroughly modern experimental score. Franco went on to direct more than 150 films under a dozen pseudonyms, most of which make the brief flashes of flesh and perversity here look tame, but this trendsetting landmark is still considered one of his greatest. Image's new widescreen edition, mastered from a gorgeous French print, is reportedly restored but contains some abrupt transitions and jump cuts. --Sean Axmaker, Amazon.com

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