Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Diabolical Doctor Z|
Actors: Jesus Franco, Estella Blain, Howard Vernon
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror
Studio: Wea-des Moines Video Release Date: 08/17/2004
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Possible Franco's best 1960s Gothic
Paul A. Lewis | United Kingdom | 11/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Diabolical Dr Z is one of director Jess Franco's best 1960s Gothics. The film oozes atmosphere and features some lush black-and-white photography, together with threatening shots of darkened corridors (in a prison, in the doctor's mansion, on a train) which feature prominently in Franco's early work (The Awful Dr Orloff, The Sadistic Baron von Klaus) and in many 1950s/1960s horror movies (for example, Riccardo Freda's The Horrible Dr Hitchcock); psychoanalysts would probably explain these shots by relating the use of this type of mise-en-scène to the concept of the `spider woman' (or the `monstrous feminine'), which is a central concern of this film and of the films of Riccardo Freda and Mario Bava. Knowing that Franco often borrows ideas from Surrealism, however, it may be self-defeating to try to find this type of `meaning' in his films: in his 1960s pictures, Franco simply delights in covering the intertextual quotation that takes place in his films with lashings of Gothic atmosphere. Franco's films are an exploration of excess, and could be likened to onions: once one layer of `meaning' has been peeled away, the viewer is left with an indeterminate number of other layers. The Diabolical Dr Z also highlights Franco's anti-idealism: most of the characters in this film are simply out for revenge, or are seeking to further their careers, and think nothing of trampling on the people in their path. This theme would become more prominent in later Franco films, which expressed it through the metaphor of vampirism (The Female Vampire), the motif of the `witchhunt' (The Bloody Judge) and the conventions of the Women in Prison film. With hindsight, Franco would have been the ideal candidate to film an adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho. The Diabolical Dr Z will probably not appeal to those whose interest in horror begins and ends with `ironic' horror films such as Scream; as with the work of Mario Bava and Terence Fisher, although there is a large amount of intentional humour in Dr Z (via some very witty dialogue, particularly the comments made by Franco-in a cameo as a policeman-in the final scene), modern audiences may poke fun at its predominantly sombre tone, and will probably be alienated by both the use of black-and-white photography and Daniel White's atonal jazz score. This is a shame, because for me, Franco's 1960s films (together with some of his 1970s pictures, such as Exorcism and The Demons) represent some of the highlights of the horror genre."
Mondo Macabro needs to release more exotic titles
Sarah Bellum | 02/05/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have never been a huge Franco fan but his earlier work like this is by far his strongest. The best qualities of Franco's films are always atomosphere and this one is on the mark mixing 60s sleaze with themes from 30s style Bela Lugosi serials like Phantom Creeps. My favorite as with all the Mondo Macabro releases is the docu this time about Franco. The only complaint I have is more of a request really. After reading the book Mondo Macabro I was expecting for them to release horror and cult films from more exotic and third world countries. Yet most of their releases have been from Europe and the US. I have nothing against domestic terror films but these days it seems as though every DVD company is releasing Franco, Fulci, HG Lewis. I am still waiting for the Hindu horror films of the Ramsey Brothers, or the cheesy Turkish and Indonesian flicks from the 70s, Midnight Song the 30s Chinese Phantom of the Opera, Pakistani gore fest like Balaa the Witch. These are the undiscovered gold mines wich are in desperate demand for the jaded horror fan."
It's, like, against society
Sarah Bellum | Dublin, OH United States | 10/30/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Great title, decent movie. By experimenting with lab animals, the good doctor believes he has perfected a way of controlling an individual's morality. He tells his cohorts of the scientific community he would like to try this out on humans; not to worry, though, he'll only utilize "expendable" people, such as death row inmates. Three of his fellow doctors ridicule him for such nonsense and apparently this embarrassment is so strong it causes his death. Now his daughter, Irma, plans vengeance against the three men whom she faults for her father's death. Irma uses her father's technique to command Miss Muerte, a performance artist with dreams of stardom and the deadly fingernails to make it happen, to seduce and kill the three men. I enjoyed the movie, though I wouldn't say it is great by any means. As Miss Muerte, Estella Blain looks fantastic. (I'd like to see her outfit made into a Halloween costume) The jazz score fits fairly well, though it doesn't help to make the movie any scarier. Some of the themes remind me of "A Clockwork Orange," with its themes of medically or biologically controlling morality and the will to either do well or inflict harm. I would guess Anthony Burgess perhaps influenced the story. The DVD is really decent, with a clean transfer and great menu options, including a French language track with English subtitles. I'm giving the DVD an extra ½ star since Mondo Macabro did such an exemplary job with it."