Wednesday, January 19, 2011


  Apparently, a gentleman by the name of Larry Gold Sr. has been in the film business for years. Just because I have never heard of him means nothing. There are lots of players I am unfamiliar with.
Anyway, Mr. Gold has formed INTERVISION and is releasing two Jess Franco flicks.

First up is 1973's THE SINISTER EYES OF DR. ORLOFF. Apparently culled from a 1" master that Jess Franco had in his possession SINISTER tells the story of Melissa Comfort (Montserrat Prous) who wakes up every morning with a scream of fright from a nightmare that haunts her. The rest of the family decide to bring Dr. Orloff in to see if he can help the girl. Paralyzed since birth, Melissa is slowly being driven mad.

Can Dr. Orloff help her? Or does he have other ideas on his mind?

THE SINISTER EYES OF DR. ORLOFF is like a bizarre stepchild of all the other Orloff films. No Howard Vernon to be seen. Lina Romay has a bit part, but not the lead. And this Dr. Orloff really has no dubious surgery going on during the film. It's like he is Dr. Orloff's half brother or something.

Does that make this a bad film?

SINISTER is a tense little thriller. Some things you can guess, but it throws you a curve from time to time. The abrupt ending makes you do a little double take, but it works. It's reminiscent of Michael O'Donoghue's rules of telling a story. He says they should all end with the sentence; 'And they all got run over by a bus.' No bus here, but you'll see.
The print is clean if a little fuzzy around the edges. The scene on the road that takes place in the fog is surrealism at it's best and Ms. Prous does a fantastic job.

Two complaints that Mr. Gold might want to consider;
There are two times that the subtitles drop off. Once early in the film where the butler, Matthews, says a sentence or two with no subtitles. Then there is a scene at the police station with Orloff where we don;t get subtitles for a couple of minutes.
The other thing might be just a suggestion.
A commentary on some of his older releases. His release of PAULA-PAULA (reviewed below) doesn't really need one with the abundance of supplemental material, but a commentary for SINISTER would be welcome.
Other than that, it is always good to see a new Franco film being released. And by new I mean one that wasn't available with subtitles before.
And I love the retro look covers we are getting with these releases. They look like something you would see from the 70's. Just fantastic

Now we move on to the second release.

PAULA-PAULA is ground that I have covered before. It was originally released in a limited edition. Yes, I bought the limited edition when it came out. Yes I liked it. I know, big surprise. But, let's cover this as something new in it's cool new packaging.

First, the supplemental material by Jess is required viewing. The first segment tells us that he has just finished putting the film together a few minutes earlier. Amazing! Then there is a chapter of Jess on film making. The man is a genius and everyone who ever wants to make a film needs to watch this segment. Twice. Finally, there is a long segment that tells us how PAULA-PAULA came about. Just the guts of a man like Franco taking a weird concept and running with it. If anyone else said they were going to meld a jazz piece by Friedrich Gulda with the basic storyline of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde I would just scratch my head. With Jess it makes perfect sense.

So, remember going into this that it is not a movie. There are people in front of the camera and things going on, but it's not a movie. Even the box proclaims it as an Audiovisual Experience and that might be the best way to look at it.
The film starts with PAula (Carmen Montes) in catatonic shock mumbling something incoherent. In comes police officer Lina Romay (her character is given no name). It seems that Paula is the prime suspect in the murder of her lover, Paula (Paula Davis). But, is that Paula even real? The first Paula, played by Montes, is a sexual being. Rarely clothed with silky, tan skin and constantly writhing around. Her perfectly formed face and body is a pleasure to watch. The other Paula remains clothed for the most part in a bright red silk bra and skirt. She is bleached blonde, tattooed, pierced and has white, milky skin. The opposite of Paula.

Is she really there or some form of manifestation by the other Paula?   Franco leaves a lot of it open for discussion and with its brief running time of 67 minutes not a lot of answers are given.
I assume that the second Paula is not a real person. The other Paula mentions that she has been doing porn shows since she was five. When asked with who she says her father. This is a woman with a scarred psyche and it ends with her creating an opposite of her from thin air. Franco uses a lot of sheets of Mylar to create an hallucinatory atmosphere in limited space. It's obvious they are shooting this in his apartment in Malaga and he manages to make it seem like so much more. A police station. A porn show. You know it's his apartment, but he makes you see much more. Finally, the music. Friedrich Gulda, who did the soundtrack for SUCCUBUS (1968), contributes this score from beyond the grave. It was given to Franco to do something with and he makes it the essential layer in this experience.

In the end, PAULA-PAULA marks a return of the man who has been referred to as 'the most dangerous director in the world'.


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