7/30/2018

DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE (Review)


Title: Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Writer:  Brian Clemens, based upon the story by Robert Louis Stevenson
Cast: Ralph Bates, Martine Beswick, Gerald Sim, Lewis Fiander, Dorothy Alison, Neil Wilson
Min: 94
Year: 1971

At the start of our story, Professor Robertson (Gerald Sim) goes to visit his friend Dr. Jekyll (Ralph Bates). Jekyll is a young scientist who is so obsessed with his research and work that he never leaves his house, where his lab is found at. Currently, he is working on an anti-virus, that will kill other viruses. But, Robertson tells him that he will need to live well beyond his own lifetime to discover the anti-viruses to all viruses. Jekyll soon realizes that he will need to extend his own life to achieve his goal.
His studies lead him to discover that women age slower than men. So, he precedes to put female hormones into a fly, which turns it female. He decides to try the process on himself, first by extracting the hormones from female corpses. To get these, he is eventually helped by the infamous grave-robbers, Burke and Hare (Ivor Dean and Tony Calvin, respectively). He makes an elixir from this which turns him into a beautiful woman (Martine Beswick). When, the gorgeous girl, Susan Spencer (Susan Brodrick) who lives with her brother and mother in the floor above him, sees her she thinks that they are a couple. Being attracted to the handsome doctor she is a disappointed. But, he tells her that the lady is in fact her widowed sister, Mrs. Hyde. Her brother, who name is Howard (Lewis Fiander), in turn sees the gorgeous Mrs. Hyde and is immediately attracted to her.

But, when the villagers get to Burke and Hare and exact punishment for their heinous deeds, Jekyll must resort to other methods to get the hormones. IE, he begins to kill hookers in Whitechapel no less, à la Jack the Ripper. Meanwhile, Robertson begins to suspect that it is Jekyll who is racking up the body count of streetwalkers. As Jekyll realizes that they are on to him, he decides to become Mrs. Hyde to kill more hookers and collect what he needs. The thing is that Hyde begins to relish in murder, unlike Jekyll who kills for, what he thinks is a greater good. Soon, both he and the sexy, seductive, and deadly Hyde begin to battle for control of his body and mind. And, she sets her eyes on Susan, who she feels is threat to her.
Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde represents the second time Hammer studios tried to a take on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde, the first being the disappointing Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll. This film though, underrated, is vastly superior and, in fact, ranks among the legendary studio's finest outputs. It is a bold, original, and fascinating take on the source material, especially for its time. 
What could have come off as campy is handled with much deft by director Roy Ward (The Vampire Lovers) Baker. There is some humor, but this actually helps the film, lightening it and coming it at just the right time, rather than bringing it down. The pacing is well handled and thus the movie is never boring. The plot with its exploration of sex and sexuality feels, for this time, fresh, bold, and comes off as highly interesting.  It all leads to an exciting climax and a very well done and highly satisfying if slightly and fittingly horrific ending.  
The success of the flick is also in large part to the strong acting from the cast. Ralph Bates is likable, well when isn't slashing up hookers anyway, and complex in his role of Dr. Jekyll. Meanwhile, the gorgeous Martine (One Million Years B.C.) Beswick is a site to behold as Sister Hyde. She is unquestionably beautiful and breathtaking in her looks, but it is her acting talent that really propels her further in her role. The character of Hyde is sexy, seductive, cold, and evil, all of which  is so very realistically bought to life by Beswick. The rest of cast are all equally excellent in their respective roles, especially Fiander, Sim, and the lovely Ms. Brodrick.
It is interesting to note, that this movie is rated PG. But, this most definitely 70's PG getting away with a lot of crazy shit that would never even get a PG-13 today, much less a PG! There are bits of gore, but much is left to your imagination. Edited expertly these scenes leave you feeling that you have seen much more than you actually have, save for an impressive knife through and out the front of a girl's neck. There is, however, some very welcomed skin by way of the lovely Beswick, who bares her wondrous boobs and ass for the camera.
Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde is a Hammer movie that doesn't get talked about nearly enough. Which is an utter shame, because it truly ranks among the studio's finest output. It took your humble reviewer and loyal Hammer fan ages to see it, thanks to a screening as part of Quad Cinema's, in NYC, current festival of later day Hammer movies. It's sexy, fun, and innovative movie with a bold and, then, different take on a story told a million times over. Topped off with superlative acting and the undisputed beauty, skin, and talent of Beswick, it is a must for fans of Hammer and Gothic horror. Sadly, we here in the US aren't left with many options to see it in (unless you have a region free Blu-ray player, that is), as it was released by Anchor Bay ages ago in a now out-of-print DVD. Here is hoping someone gives us a US Blu-ray version and soon!



4 out of 4 

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