The Diabolical Doctor Z

The dance of "Miss Death": Estella Blain seduces a mannequin in The Diabolical Doctor Z [Miss Muerte] (dir Jess Franco, 1965).

Guy Mairesse and Ana Castor.

Mabel Karr.

I haven't seen Franco's later, more narratologically deconstructed work yet, but this tight little Eurotrash homage to classic Universal horror as filtered through the French New Wave certainly piques my interest. Estella Blain's "Miss Death," with her curare-dipped nails, is a gorgeous unwilling executioner--a sort of precursor to the lurid La Femme Nikita conceit of the sex-object-drafted-as-assassin. Witty historical cinematic allusions abound, from Feuillade and Whale to Bresson and Franju. The shrill jazz score by Daniel White (who also plays a police inspector) is perfectly matched to the film's shuddering expressionist visuals.


phaneronoemikon said...

DDZ is classic!!

richard lopez said...

this film, along with the awful dr orloff, is probably the more lucid and approchable flicks of franco's ouvre. at least there is a thin narrative and the haunted photography and kinetic score keep the viewer from falling asleep. that's not a diss of franco however, since i own a number of his films on disc. not a conscious collection, and by that i mean, over time i look at my collection of movies and discover that i somehow managed to collect a score of franco's movies. what that says about me is something i don't want to explore. my own personal favorite franco film is vampyros lesbos.