Devotees of prolific Spanish schlockmeister Jesus Franco won't be too surprised that Dr Jekyll's Mistresses
features neither Dr Jekyll or his mistresses; the current title is a meaningless substitute for the original The Secret of Dr Orlof
. A notional sequel to Franco's breakthrough The Awful Dr Orlof
, it opens with a dying scientist revealing a lack of judgment in estimating the character of a colleague ("You're ambitious, but you're a dedicated genius not an unscrupulous madman") to whom he wills his researches into turning corpses into pasty-faced killer zombies who can home in on ultrasound emitted by junky costume jewellery. Having murdered his own brother for fooling around with his wife (Luisa Sala), the genial scientist (Marcelo Jauregui) reanimates his relative (Hugo Blanco) and for some obscure reason sends the creature out to strangle tarty girls who work in a nearby nightclub. When the monster's innocent daughter (Agnes Spaak) shows up at the castle to claim her inheritance, she catches on that something is amiss ("'Ever since I came here, I've sensed something secret in this house--the life you live with Uncle Conrad is just too tragic for words"').
Technically far more competent than most Franco films, this makes eerie use of Spanish landscapes and manages an odd noir-ish cheesecake in the killer-bothered, jazz-scored nightclub scenes. Too slow actually to be good, it is undeniably weird, and the dubbed dialogue is consistently funny.
On the DVD: Dr Jekyll's Mistresses on disc is an English dub of a French release cut with a surprising amount of nudity for a 1964 film as the monster ogles and strangles strippers. These scenes (one is still in French) are a little wobblier than the rest of the picture, as if spliced in from another source. Print quality is excellent, with lovely deep blacks. The packaging misspells the title as Dr Jeckyll's Mistresses. --Kim Newman
Melissa (Agnes Spaak) a student at college in Austria is invited to spend the festive season at the impressive castle of her uncle Dr Conrad Fisherman. What she finds on arrival, however, is a mood of peculiar solemnity and ambient menace. Her aunt, Ingrid (Luisa Sala) seems to have been driven to the bottle by reasons unknown, and her uncle acts distant and rather suspiciously. A photo of her father, who died before she was born, sets off her curiosity still further. But terror is unleashed when she discovers that her uncle has reanimated her father and is using him as a undead killer...