Review Date: May 8, 2001
Released by: Image Entertainment
Release date: April 10, 2001
Region 0, NTSC
Widescreen 1.66:1 | 16x9: Yes
Dr. Garondet (Francis Valladares
) is the new physician in a small French village with some very peculiar attitudes towards one of their residents. Nobody in the village - and I mean NOBODY - wants anything to do with Professor Orloff, a reclusive nobleman who lives in a castle nearby. The townsfolk refuse to go near his estate or even talk about him. However, one rainy night, a small boy shows up at Garondet's house and asks for the doctor to come immediately to the castle. Going against his maid's advice, Garondet agrees, but the only carriage he can hire abandons him halfway there, leaving him to walk through the rain and mud.
To his surprise, the doctor finds that nobody at the castle is sick, and that he was summoned there for quite another reason. Cecile (Brigitte Carva
), Professor Orloff's daughter, tells him that strange things are going on in the castle, and she's hoping that a man of science like him might be able to sort it out. It seems that she and the servants have been sensing some sort of inhuman presence among them over the past few days, some creature that they cannot see. While walking down a corridor, she sensed something moving beside her, something that left a strange impression on a nearby mirror. Then, while in the castle's library, she saw a book rise into the air by itself. She doesn't know what's happening, and her secretive father is no help. Garondet agrees to investigate, and she sends him to visit her father's laboratory.
The doctor arrives in the laboratory to find it empty, but to his shock, he sees a book rise into the air and the pages start to turn by themselves. Professor Orloff (Howard Vernon
) all of a sudden shows up wielding a pistol, and demands to know what Garondet is doing in his laboratory. After the doctor explains, Orloff calms down, and Garondet questions him about the book. Orloff explains that he has achieved a major scientific breakthrough - he has created an invisible man who is acting as his servant. The creature obeys his every whim, and can even read.
Going further into his story, Orloff explains how his creation came about. Some years earlier, Cecile, who has a weak heart, had suffered a cardiac episode and had apparently died. Orloff had dressed the girl in her finest jewelry for burial, but his servants had seen him put the jewels on the body and several started getting ideas. Maria, one of his maids, had convinced a laborer named Roland to steal the jewels for her in exchange for her hand in marriage. The two had broken into Cecile's tomb and were in the process of robbing her body when the girl suddenly came back to life. She wasn't dead after all, but had only had a cataleptic seizure. In his panic, Roland stabbed her as he fled the crypt. Although Cecile recovered, the trauma of her injury drove her insane. As revenge, Orloff decided to use Roland as an experimental subject.
Garondet finds all this a bit hard to swallow, but nonetheless accepts Orloff's invitation to spend the night at the castle. After seeing the doctor to his room, Orloff decides to test the invisible man's sexual drive by having it rape his maid. Her screams awake Garondet and bring him rushing to her aide, but unfortunately Orloff has a few plans for the doctor. The Professor enjoyed bragging about his creation, but Garondet now knows far too much about him and the invisible man to ever leave the castle alive...
No real relation to Jess Franco's "Dr. Orloff" movies, except for the presence of Howard Vernon, Orloff and the Invisible Man
(or, as this version's title card reads, Orloff Against the Invisible Man
), is a typically sleazy European horror effort, complete with terrible dubbing, poor continuity and cheap production values. The plot makes little sense, and the English soundtrack oftentimes sounds like it was recorded by people with an incomplete script. When Cecile first tells Garondet of what has been going on in the castle, the doctor spurts out "Visions are not uncommon to girls who live alone", which doesn't make a whole lot of sense, because even though it seems that Cecile spends time in isolation, she's hardly living alone in the castle. Then, when Orloff tells the doctor about Roland stabbing Cecile, he makes a point of assuring him that the girl is completely insane, even though nothing in her behavior seems to indicate this. She certainly doesn't act insane, and since Orloff is perfectly honest with Garondet about everything else, there doesn't seem to be any reason for him to lie about her.
However, the factor that works against the movie the most is the very cheapness of it all. The movie was obviously shot very hastily and looks sloppily put together. Orloff's laboratory is little more than a couple of tables with beakers and test tubes on them, the castle sets were apparently left over from some other film, and the movie climaxes with what has to be the most unspectacular "mad scientists' castle burning down" sequence ever. However, the biggest howler is no doubt the invisible man himself, whom, when finally revealed, turns out to be little more than a guy in a fuzzy-wuzzy gorilla suit. It's a pity, because the movie could've been much more watchable if a little more time and money had been spent on it, and as it is now, Orloff and the Invisible Man
ranks as one of the lesser European horror efforts.
Image Entertainment has given Orloff and the Invisible Man
a brand new transfer, letterboxed at 1.66:1 and enhanced for 16x9 televisions. When compared to other DVD transfers of European horrors from the same time period, the image quality here is definitely weaker, although it's no doubt better-looking than previous versions. The image is very smooth and detailed, but is marred by numerous scratches and frequent (and heavy) speckling, which becomes distracting at many points. Flesh tones appear natural, but colors look a little on the dull side, except for some noticeable oversaturation of red.
In lieu of new film elements being found, I'd say that this is the best the movie will ever look. It's certainly a watchable transfer, though far from perfect.
The film is presented in English in Dolby 1.0 Mono. For what it is, an old, dubbed Mono recording, the soundtrack is surprisingly vibrant. All the sound effects come across well, and dialogue is projected very loudly and clearly Some slight background noise is detectable, but that's it. French and German dialogue tracks (but no subtitles) are included, also in 1.0 Mono.
Supplements are pretty scarce here. Included is about ten minutes worth of "alternate footage", which mostly consists of different takes of the film's nude scenes, only this time with the actresses keeping their clothes on. Of special note is the scene where Orloff's maid is raped by the invisible man, which becomes even more bizarre here.
The only other supplement is a trailer.
It's great to see that another one of these obscure films has made it onto DVD. Although the quality of the transfer is a bit disappointing, it's not as disappointing as the film itself. Still, if you're a Eurohorror completist, this may be a worthwhile title for you, just as long as you're not expecting too much.
Movie - C
Image Quality - C+
Sound - B
Supplements - C+
- Running Time - 1 hour 16 minutes
- Not Rated
- 1 Disc
- 10 Chapter Stops
- English Dolby Digital Mono 1.0
- French Dolby Digital Mono 1.0
- German Dolby Digital Mono 1.0
- Ten minutes of "alternate footage"
- Theatrical Trailer