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Doctor Jekyll & Sister Hyde [DVD]
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Hammer Studios' imaginative twist on the classic Robert Louis Stevenson novel. In Victorian London, Dr Jekyll (Ralph Bates) experiments to discover an elixir of life. After mixing up the hormones he has taken from dead bodies, Jekyll is transformed into a beautiful but murderous female (Martine Beswick).
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Dr. Henry Shekel (Bates) is working on an elixir that he hopes will be the answer to longevity of life. The answer he believes is to be found in female hormones taken from cadavers sent his way by Burke and Hare. Unfortunately, when the doctor resorts to trying the potion himself, he is transformed into a ravishing but dangerous woman. With London in the grip of Jack the Ripper's reign of terror, could it be that Jekyll and Sister Hyde are linked to the Jolly jack killings?
Burke by name, Berk by nature!
It's an awful title, it really is, I know for a fact people have avoided the film purely because they thought it sounded like some lame British horror parody piece. Which is a shame because it's a devilishly fun picture that breathes new life into a formula that has never been short of on screen treatments. Not only does Clemens' intelligent screenplay have the transformed "creature" be a smouldering sex bomb in the shapely form of Martine Beswick, he also reshapes horrible history by having Jack the Ripper and Burke and Hare tied into the plotting. Hell there's even a nifty aside to Sweeney Todd in there as well.
Murder, horrible grizzly murder!
Baker directs with some style, never letting the picture drift aimlessly, while he along with Norman Warwick and the set designers create a classic Gaslight Gothic look, the perfect backdrop to such devious doings and berserker gender bending. The transformation sequences are deftly handled, the duality of beings and mirrors a narrative strength, while the film isn't afraid to add humour over the top of the gruesome Technicolor murders. In fact sometimes the in jokes are so subtle it's not hard to see why many film observers of the time didn't get the joke when it was released, the crafty wink-winkery to the audience wasted on the unaware.
With Bates and Beswick leading from the front with strong and assured performances, and looking credible as brother and sister into the bargain, the film is never less than enjoyable. It overcomes the gimmick idea to play out a story that stands unique in its freshness. Oh for sure there's some weaknesses in the production, but really this is a Hammer film that deserves its cult fan base because it repays the good will consistently on repeat viewings. 8/10
appeared in another movie alongside Christopher Lee in 'Taste The Blood Of Dracula'. He played 'Lord Courtley.
I reakon that this will really be a story to be remembered as a victorian film with a lot of surprises just waiting to be told about.
It not only could, but it actually does. This film has some great moments that are very cleverly done. The first transformation of Jeckyll into Hyde is well done, as are Hyde's erotic conquests of Jeckyll's male acquaintances (and one particular unnerving moment when during her lovemaking Hyde regresses into Jeckyll!).
There is some comedy as well, but I was surprised at the raw violence in the film. It's never fun and games, the tragedy of the original tale is ever present.
The only qualm I have is that the film loses its focus near the end. Why Jeckyll murders prostitutes is easily explained, but what's in it for sister Hyde when she takes to the task? It appears Jeckyll and Hyde are conscious of one another's conflicting desires, but Jeckyll is also able to use Hyde to execute his design's under another cover. The conclusion, although tense, doesn't satisfy.
But all in all a real horror oddity that epicures in the terrible should not dismiss.
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this one Dr JEKYLL & SISTER HYDE