International Horror Film Review: Orloff Against The Invisible Man (dir by Pierre Chevalier)


In 1970’s Orloff Against The Invisible Man, Paco Valladares stars as Dr. Garondet, a turn-of-the-century psychologist.  One morning, Garondet is at his office when a mysterious child delivers a letter requesting that he travel to the castle of Prof. Orloff.  Apparently, Orloff’s daughter feels that her father is losing his mind and is in deep need of therapy.

The castle is located in one of those remote villages that always seem to be home to mad scientists and vampires.  As soon as Garondet arrives, he discovers that none of the villagers are willing to talk about Orloff or his castle.  Instead, they all fear him and, if the audience has seen The Awful Dr. Orlof or any of the other dozen or so films that Jess Franco made about the mad doctor, that shouldn’t be a surprise.

What is a surprise is that Franco apparently had nothing to do with this particular Orloff film.  Instead, Orloff Against The Invisible Man was directed by a French director named Pierre Chevalier.  Chevalier does direct in a very Franco-like manner, making frequent use of the zoom lens and often highlighting odd visual details that have nothing to do with the overall plot.  That said, Chevalier also direct with considerably less energy than Franco.  That is a polite way of saying that this is a surprisingly slow movie.

Eventually, Gardonet does reach the castle.  Orloff’s daughter, Cecile (Brigitte Carva), insists that she did not send the message.  Orloff (played by the great Howard Vernon) tells the doctor that he is not only totally sane but that he also lives with an invisible man.  Orloff proves his claim by having the invisible man pick up a few things in a room while Gardonet watches.  Oddly, Gardonet doesn’t seem to be particularly surprised to learn that Orloff has an invisible servant.

Orloff says that he’s going to tell Gardonet the story of how he got an invisible servant but then it turns out that the story actually has very little to do with that.  Cecile, it turns out, was once mistakenly pronounced dead and put in a coffin.  Two of Orloff’s servants decided to break open the coffin and steal Cecile’s jewelry.  However, when they opened the coffin, Cecile woke up and screamed.  One of the gravediggers stabbed Cecile before the two of them ran from the crypt.  Cecile survived but Orloff was so angry that he tracked down the graverobbers.  He killed one and whipped the other.  (Actually, he may have killed both of them.  Due to some truly bad dubbing, the film isn’t clear on this point.)  He then revived the dead servant, turned him invisible, and now uses him to rule over the village.  Or at least, I think that’s what Orloff was claiming.  Again, the editing of the film was so haphazard and the dubbing some incompetent that the plot wasn’t always easy to follow.  Interestingly enough, there is one scene where we briefly do see what the Invisible Man looks like and he looks nothing like the dead servant but instead appears to be some sort of ape.

Orloff Against the Invisible Man is a mess of bad special effects and sexualized violence.  If Jess Franco could be counted on to make films that were sleazy but enjoyably decadent, Orloff Against The Invisible Man is just sleazy and kind of boring.  The best thing that the film has going for it is Howard Vernon, who brings just the right mix of haughtiness and cynicism to the role of Orloff.  Vernon always played Orloff as being an amoral aristocrat, one whose evil is more the result of ennui than actual maliciousness.  Vernon’s the best thing about Orloff Against The Invisible Man.

As with most of the Orloff films, this one has actually been released under several different titles.  My favorite was The Love Life of an Invisible Man.  Interestingly enough, the film’s American tagline was “God Help Us …. If They Rise Again!” despite the fact that the film didn’t feature any zombies or ghosts.  Instead, it just features a few flashbacks and a lot of exposition.  Orloff Against The Invisible Man could have used the demented imagination of Jess Franco.

One response to “International Horror Film Review: Orloff Against The Invisible Man (dir by Pierre Chevalier)

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 10/3/22 — 10/9/22 | Through the Shattered Lens

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