The Eyes. The penetrating eyes of the seemingly
kindly Dr. Orloff glare into Melissa's very soul as his soothing voice
drones on and on. Melissa Comfort (Montserrat Prous) is a crippled young
woman living with her wicked witch relatives (Kali Hansa and Loretta
Tovar). Melissa is disturbed by recurring dreams of her father (played
by director Franco) dying in front of her, dribbling blood onto her
nightgown. What she doesn't realize is that her relatives have a hidden
agenda and her relatives aren't aware of Orloff's own sinister plans to
wipe out the remnants of the Comfort family.
William Berger is well cast as the evil Doctor who controls Melissa with
hypnosis and drugs. His presence and Franco's whistling, haunting score
cast a spell over the proceedings which is only broken by the rather
abrupt happy ending. This psychological horror film is deliberately
paced but absorbing throughout. There's no sex or nudity and
stylistically it is almost zoom-free, a break from Franco's other early
1970s sex-horror projects.
Montserrat Prous is a Lina Romay look-alike who is excellent at playing
innocent victims of evil plots (cf. 1972's UN SILENCIO DE TUMBA), one
wonders what ever happened to her after her mid-70s association with
Franco. In the end, though, this is Berger's film. All he has to do is
walk into a room and our attention is riveted.
The theme of an innocent woman turned into a programmed killer was a
familiar one for Franco (see MISS MEURTE, SUCCUBUS, LES CAUCHEMARS
NAISSENT LA NUIT, AL OTRO LADO DEL ESPEJO and MIL SEXOS TIENE LA NOCHE
for comparison) and this particular film was remade in 1983 as SOLO ANTE
EL TERROR with Romay taking over the role of Melissa.
The film's most atmospheric scene occurs on a mist shrouded road where
Melissa murders her loyal butler (Jose Manuel Martin). Franco also uses
the exotic vegetation of the Canary Islands locations to maximum effect.
Robert Woods and Edmund Purdom are on hand to act out some last minute
heroics, and look for Lina in the very small role of Woods' jealous
-- Reviewed by Robert Monell