The Awful Dr. Orloff

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The Awful Dr. Orlof
Gritos en la noche.jpg
Spanish theatrical release poster
Directed byJesús Franco
Produced by
  • Leo Lax
  • Serge Newman
Written byJesús Franco
CinematographyGodofredo Pacheco
  • Hispamer Film
  • Eurociné
Release date
  • May 1962 (1962-05) (Spain)
Running time
90 minutes
  • Spain
  • France[1]

The Awful Dr. Orloff (Spanish: Gritos en la noche) is a 1962 horror film, directed by Jesús Franco. It stars Howard Vernon as the mad Dr. Orloff (or sometimes Orlof) who wants to repair his disfigured daughter's face with skin grafts from other women with the aid of a slavish, blind henchman named Morpho. The film is considered to be the earliest Spanish horror film.[2] Howard Vernon continued to appear in a number of Franco's horror films up until his death. Franco would later feature a number of blind or disfigured henchmen also named Morpho in many of his later horror films, such as Vampyros Lesbos and Revenge in the House of Usher.


While filming his tribute to Hollywood musical films (Vampiresas 1930), director Jesús Franco convinced his producers to watch the British film The Brides of Dracula (1960).[3] After the screening, Franco proposed that he could make similar films "in the same vein, but with a different style".[3] Franco eventually convinced the same French co-producer who produced Vampiresas 1930.[3]

Franco was concerned how the film would be handled by Spanish censors. As a result, he produced two versions of the film, one that was unedited and one that was for British and Spanish audiences that had the scenes with nudity in them cut.[4] Spanish censors were also concerned with films that would damage the reputation of Spain. To avoid this, Franco set the film in France.[5][4]


The Awful Dr. Orloff premiered in Madrid, Spain in May 1962 under the title of Gritos en la noche (lit. Screams in the Night).[2][6] It premiered in Paris in May 1963 under the title L'horrible Dr. Orloff' and was released in the United Kingdom as The Demon Doctor later the same year. In the U.S. it was released in 1964 as the second half of a double feature with The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962).[5] The Awful Dr. Orloff became the first internationally successful horror and exploitation film production from Spain.[3]

A sequel to the film, titled El Secreto del Dr. Orloff and also directed by Franco, was released in 1964.[7]


The film received a negative reception from critics on its initial release.[2] In 1964, a review in the New York Times for a double feature of The Horrible Dr. Hichcock and The Awful Dr. Orloff stated "For once, the adjectives in the titles were not only descriptive but also accurate."[8] The Monthly Film Bulletin described the film "at once appalling and unique, so bad as to be almost enjoyable for its ludicrous qualities, so singular that curiosity hunters are likely to look at it agog."[9] The review noted that one or two shots were "worthy of James Whale or Epstein" and that the score was "quasi-musical noises." The review concluded that it was "a singular film...really most extraordinary."[9]

From retrospective reviews, Donald C. Willis described the film as one of many "mainly trivial variations on Eyes Without a Face", while praising the "lighting of the castle and the night exteriors".[10] In Phil Hardy's book Science Fiction (1984), he stated that The Awful Dr. Orloff was declared as "the initiator of an entire subgenre mixing horror and medical Science Fiction in a gory way bordering on the pornographic".[11]



  1. ^ a b "Credits". BFI Film & Television Database. London: British Film Institute. Archived from the original on February 12, 2009. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Hortelano, 2011. p.221
  3. ^ a b c d Shipka, 2011. p. 175
  4. ^ a b Shipka, 2011. p. 176
  5. ^ a b Shipka, 2011. p. 177
  6. ^ Munden, 1971. p. 52
  7. ^ Firsching, Robert. "Dr. Orloff's Monster". AllMovie. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  8. ^ Archer, Eugene (December 3, 1964). "L'Orribile Segreto del Dottor Hitchcock (1962) A Pair of Films". The New York Times. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  9. ^ a b "Gritos en la noche (The Demon Doctor), Spain/France 1961". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 30 no. 348. British Film Institute. p. 86.
  10. ^ Willis 1997, p. 28.
  11. ^ Hardy 1984, p. 214.


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