The Diabolical Dr. Z

The Diabolical Dr. Z (Spanish: Miss Muerte) is a 1965 horror film directed by Jesús Franco. The film stars Mabel Karr as Irma Zimmer, a surgeon who creates a machine that turns people into zombified slaves. Ms. Zimmer is the daughter of a Professor Zimmer (a disciple of Dr. Orloff), who was hounded to his death several years earlier by four of his scientific associates. Zimmer uses the machine to control an erotic dancer named Miss Muerte (Estella Blain) who uses her long poison-tipped fingernails to murder the people Ms. Zimmer holds responsible for her father's death.

The Diabolical Dr. Z
Spanish theatrical release poster
Directed byJesús Franco[1]
Produced by
Screenplay by
Music byDaniel White[1]
CinematographyAlejandro Ulloa[1]
Edited byJean Feyte[1]
  • Hesperia
  • Speva
  • Ciné Alliance[1]
Release date
  • August 1966 (1966-08) (Madrid)
  • November 22, 1967 (1967-11-22) (France)
Running time
86 minutes
  • Spain
  • France[1]


The Diabolical Dr. Z was written by director Jesús Franco and Jean-Claude Carrière.[2] The film is loosely based on the 1940 novel The Bride Wore Black.[3] The film's opening credits state that it is based off a novel by David Khune who is an alter-ego for director Jesús Franco.[4] Franco would later re-use elements from the plot of The Diabolical Dr. Z in his later films including The Blood of Fu Manchu (1968) and She Killed in Ecstasy (1971).[5]

The film was Franco's last film shot in black and white.[6] Despite being one of Franco's favourite films of his earlier period, Franco has stated that the film "shouldn't have been made. Censorship was causing me troubles."[7][8]


The Diabolical Dr. Z was released in Spain in August 1966 under the title Miss Muerte with a running time of 86 minutes.[9] The film had 360,990 admissions in Spain and grossed a 2019 equivalent of 30,787.00€ domestically.[10] It was released in France on November 22, 1967 under the title of Dans les griffes du maniaque (lit.In the Grip of the Maniac) with a running time of 90 minutes.[2]

The Diabolical Dr. Z was released on DVD by the Mondo Macabro label on April 29, 2003.[11] A Blu-ray was released by Kino International in 2018, with Budd Wilkins of Slant Magazine noting that it surpassed the "already visually impressive" DVD from Mondo Macabro.[12]


In a contemporary review, the Monthly Film Bulletin noted that Franco "shows an eye for unusual images-notably in Miss Death's bizarre but rather tame dance act"[1]

From retrospective reviews, The online film database Allmovie gave the film three stars, praising it as "One of Franco's most entertaining films, Miss Muerte is a great improvement over the similar El Secreto del Dr. Orloff"[13]

See also



  1. "Miss Muerte (The Diabolical Dr. Z)". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 34 no. 396. British Film Institute. 1967. p. 175.
  2. "Miss Muerte". Fiche Film - La Cinémathèque française (in French). Retrieved March 18, 2013.
  3. Armstrong et al. 2007, p. 181.
  4. Labanyi & Pavlović 2012, p. 169.
  5. Shipka 2011, p. 205.
  6. Bentley 2008, p. 174.
  7. Shipka 2011, p. 182.
  8. Shipka 2011, p. 189.
  9. "The Diabolical Dr. Z". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
  10. "Miss Muerte". The Spanish Film Catalogue. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  11. "The Diabolical Dr. Z". Allmovie. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
  12. Wilkins, Budd (March 24, 2018). "The Diabolical Dr. Z". Slant Magazine. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  13. Firsching, Robert. "The Diabolical Dr. Z - Overview". Allmovie. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 18, 2013.


  • Armstrong, Richard; Charity, Tom; Hughes, Lloyd; Winter, Jessica (27 September 2007). The Rough Guide to Film. London: Rough Guides. ISBN 978-1-84353-408-2.
  • Bentley, Bernard P. E. (2008). A Companion to Spanish Cinema. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Tamesis. ISBN 978-1-85566-176-9.
  • Labanyi, Jo; Pavlović, Tatjana, eds. (2012). A Companion to Spanish Cinema. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-4051-9438-9.
  • Shipka, Danny (2011). Perverse Titillation: The Exploitation Cinema of Italy, Spain and France, 1960–1980. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-4888-3.
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