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Add a Robotized Dead Brother

Spoiler Alert! Actually, I’m not sure how much I’ll actually spoil, but I’m used to putting these in now.

I DVR’d The Awful Dr. Orloff with high hopes. Full disclosure: as I currently write this (in my new spiral notebook while on a break at work), I don’t quite remember the doctor’s name or if he was Awful or Horrible or some other adjective. The description said something about using his robotized dead brother to kill women in order to keep his wife beautiful. Kidnapping and/or killing women in order to make or keep another woman beautiful is, of course, a staple of the cheesy horror genre. Add a robotized dead brother and what’s not to like?

I had a bad moment at the beginning of the movie when I realized it was in French with subtitles. For one thing, foreign films have that cachet — ooh, it’s European, it must be classy! More importantly, I was not at all sure I could knit and read subtitles at the same time. I might drop a stitch and I never know what to do when that happens (I’m not that good at knitting). So I had to make more of an effort at this movie, especially when the subtitles and the background blended together. I persevered though, because lately it seems cheesy movies are hard to come by.

This one starts right out looking like a cheesy horror movie should, on an eerie, darkened street, with a beautiful but not very classy woman fleeing in terror from… it could only be the robotized dead brother. That cadaverous gait! Those wide, unseeing eyes! I’d run, too! He catches her, kills her and carries her away, in view of witnesses.

The time is probably the late 1800s: flickering street lamps, horse-drawn carriages. Of course, movies are known to play fast and loose with period. If anyone says, “Here we are in the year blahblah,” I missed it. At least the atmosphere is good, and I think a mad scientist plays better in a period piece.

Soon we meet the hero and heroine, a detective and an opera singer who have fallen in love. When he is assigned the case of the mysterious killer, the newspapers have a field day printing headlines about how he’s dallying with his girlfriend instead of solving the case. So, no intrepid girl reporter, much to my disappointment. No reporters at all, actually, just headlines. Sorry, journalism.

The mad scientist, it turns out, doesn’t know how to transfer the beauty from his murder victims to his deformed daughter — not wife as I was sure it said in the description (I couldn’t get back to the description on digital cable and check). He just keeps trying different experiments. There’s one boob shot when he slices a woman open. Oh, these French films!

The robotized dead guy, by the way, is not not a common or garden dead brother. He was executed for murders including parricide. I thought they guillotined convicts in France. At least, they did on some Frankenstein movies I saw (and wrote blog posts about). I guess I shouldn’t take those as historic fact. No matter, he was a bad man before he was dead and robotized and he’s a bad robotized dead guy now.

That doesn’t stop the mad scientist’s assistant from feeling sorry for him. At least, I don’t know if she’s an assistant. She’s a beautiful woman the mad scientist broke out of prison by making it look like she was dead. I guess she liked him well enough before, but now she thinks he’s mad as well as evil.

The detective’s girlfriend gets to be intrepid, going undercover to try to catch the killer. She’s not completely stupid about it, either. It’s not her fault her detective boyfriend fails to read the note she sends him because he thinks it’s from some random crazy woman. Oh well, it makes for more suspense.

It’s actually a pretty good movie. You just need a large capacity crane to suspend your disbelief. As cheesy entertainment, I say it is worth a watch. Once again, I think I need a rating system, like thumbs up or three stars. Maybe I could discuss a few possibilities on Non-Sequitur Thursday.

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