Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll (1974)


Although it has some characteristics of a giallo, Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll (1974) is more a thriller in the vein of Hammer’s mini-Hitchcocks. That is to say, it has more twists and turns than it does blood and gore, although the killer does remove the eyes from his/her victims and, you guessed, they’re blue.

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I exaggerate; there are some grisly murders in the film, but they aren’t as much the focus as is the psychological drama and disturbed characters. Yes, I’d say every character is disturbed in some way, whether you realize it at first or not. Gilles (Paul Naschy) certainly is. Whenever he gets intimate, he has visions of strangling a woman under red lighting on a sparsely decorated set.

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When he hitchhikes into town and lands a job at the home of three sisters, he fortunately/unfortunately has plenty of opportunities to be intimate. Claude (Daina Lorys) feels guilty about the car accident that left her with a scarred arm and prothesis on her hand. She feels like nobody would ever want her with such a deformity.

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Her sister, Nicole (Eva Leon), thinks everyone would want her. She’s the first to bed Gilles; well, that is until his vision keeps him from performing. He’s not the only one she’ll use sexually to exert power. Spoiler alert: she becomes one of the victims. I wouldn’t say it’s because she’s promiscuous, but her adventurous spirit leads her into trouble.

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The third sister is Ivette (Maria Perschy), bound to a wheelchair, which is more of a reason for Claude to feel guilty. Her symptoms may be psychosomatic, but there’s conflicting direction on what medication she should be taking. Dr. Phillipe (Eduardo Calvo) says she no longer needs a sedative, but her new nurse, Michelle (Ines Morales), is dropping something into her milk.

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The set-up is compelling, especially after we learn that Gilles is an escaped convict. He’s obviously horny, as are the three women who haven’t had a man in their company in a long time. They’re now all living together in a big spooky house somewhere in France where it storms often during the night.

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It’s about the time Gilles arrives that the murders of blonde, blue-eyed young women begin. He’s the obvious suspect, but when he’s attacked one day by Jean, the former handyman, Inspector Pierre (Antonio Pica) is convinced that he’s the killer instead. He changes his tune, though, when Jean is found dead in a field.

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Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll is a sexy thriller. Naschy turns on the manly charm, chopping wood shirtless and making eyes to the sisters as they tend to the wound on his torso following Jean’s attack. Every one of the women is lovely, either dressed or in various stages of undress. It’s never sordid, though.

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It also goes to surprisingly emotional depths. Naschy and Claude are both self-proclaimed outsiders. He’s gentle and tender when he says that he is indeed attracted to her. He’s also melancholy when he tells her they’re losers who need attention or else they are nothing. She doesn’t disagree.

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The murder scenes are terrific. The more the murders continue, the music by Juan Carlos Calderon becomes an increasingly distorted version of Frere Jacques. I eventually guessed the identity of the killer, but not until my original guesses were eliminated one by one. Overall, it’s very entertaining. If Naschy’s monsters aren’t your cup of tea, give this film a try.

Written by Paul Naschy & Carlos Aured

Directed by Carlos Aured

Starring Paul Naschy, Diana Lorys, Eduardo Calvo, Eva Leon, Ines Morales, Antonio Pica, Maria Perschy

RT 89 min.

Released Aug. 5, 1974 (Spain), Sept. 3, 1976 (US)

Home Video Blu-ray (The Paul Naschy Collection, Shout!)

Rating 7 Waldemar Daninskys (out of 10)


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