Gilles (Paul Naschy) is a drifter wandering around towns in rural France looking for work. One evening he is picked up by Claude (Diana Lorys) who asks him to work as a caretaker at the remote house she inhabits with her two sisters. At the house he meets the wheelchair bound Ivette (Maria Perschy) who is looked after by a nurse and the youngest sister Nicole who wastes no time in trying to seduce the ever willing Gilles. Shortly after Gilles arrival, a woman is brutally murdered and soon after a succession of young blonde women are killed - their blue eyes being gouged out and taken by the killer...
Scripted by Paul Naschy and director Carlos Aured, Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll is a clever little thriller which clearly takes its inspiration from the giallo films, then very popular in Italy. Naschy had previously starred in Jack el destripador de Londres (1971) which had been a rather unsuccessful attempt to directly mimic the Italian films, in Blue Eyes the giallo themes are much more adeptly transplanted into the typical Naschy setting with all of the usual ingredients - a small isolated village, a bevy of beautiful women and a fair dose of gore (although the sex is on the sparse side this time around).
The story runs quite slowly - the first third of the film is completely free of any killing or even hints of stalk-and-slash action, however the film never drags as it introduces the unusual mix of characters and builds up an impressive array of red herrings. While the plot itself is not particularly original, with most of the murders being simple set-piece killings of previously unseen characters and a few cliché moments including someone finding the killer and exclaiming "its you", the solution is quite original and the whole denoument is well done. There are a couple of minor misfires - a half-hearted attempt to make one of the townspeople into a suspect by seeing him eye up some jailbait schoolgirls and undeveloped hints of a subplot between Gilles and the nurse - but these do not affect the flow of the film. The only sequence that might bother viewers is one in which a pig is butchered. Obviously it is being killed for food and by people who know what they are doing, but the sequence itself is completely unnecessary to the storyline and seems to be little more that a gratuitous attempt to shock.
The film is strongly directed, with some neat touches including surrealist flashbacks and point-of-view shots. The all important murder scenes are also well helmed and include some very vivid effects, particularly an incredibly brutal looking shooting death, even if the blood is typical early 1970s horror movie day-glow red. Like many of the Naschy horror films from the 1970s, very little is done to disguise the obviously Spanish location shooting (foreign settings for horror films were demanded by the Spanish film censors and the use of obviously Iberian locations could certainly be seen as a subversive move by the film-makers). The only let down here is the soundtrack by composer Juan Carlos Calderón which seems to consist of little more than an endlessly re-used cheesy theme which is often played at completely inappropriate times, robbing several scenes of their impact.
Naschy is as good as ever and has certainly developed his character acting since his earliest films, being quite convincing as the brusque drifter - a world away from the sophisticated Waldemar Daninsky. He is joined by the gorgeous Austrian actress Maria Perschy (633 Squadron (1964)) as Ivette and the acting is generally strong from the whole cast.
Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll is an eruditely scripted blend of giallo thriller with classic Naschy atmosphere. The good direction and some effective murder scenes are balanced by the unnecessary shock butchery sequence and a very poor soundtrack, but the overall experience is entertaining and certainly recommended to Naschy and Spanish Horror fans.
|Anyone famous in it?||Paul Naschy - the most famous Spanish horror star who started his career in La Marca del Hombre-lobo (1968)|
|Directed by anyone interesting?||Carlos Aured - a Spanish director who directed some of Naschy's best films, including El espanto surge de la tumba (1973) and the period werewolf piece El retorno de Walpurgis (1973).|
|Any gore or violence ?||Some gory death scenes and a real scene of a pig being butchered.|
|Any sex or nudity?||Two brief female topless shots.|
|Who is it for?||Certainly one for all fans of Paul Naschy and of the Spanish horror boom.
|Visuals||Aspect Ratio - 1.33:1 open-matte fullscreen. Colour.
The print is very strong with good colours and detail throughout. The fullscreen aspect ratio would have been matted for cinematic release, but there is never any extra detail visible (eg. boom-mikes).
|Audio||English and Spanish audio. Both sound good and the dubbing is effective.|
|Subtitles||English - translate the Spanish audio.|
|Extras||The disc includes:
|Availability||Available on its own, in a two disc set with Human Beasts or as part of the five disc Paul Naschy Collection.|
|Region||Region 0 (ALL) - NTSC|
|Other regions?||Available in Spain with Spanish audio only.|
|Cuts?||The film is believed to be fully uncut. Print language is English.|