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Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde

UK 1971
produced by
Albert Fennell, Brian Clemens for Hammer
directed by Roy Ward Baker
starring Ralph Bates, Martine Beswick, Gerald Sim, Lewis Fiander, Susan Brodrick, Dorothy Alison, Ivor Dean, Philip Madoc, Irene Bradshaw, Neil Wilson, Paul Whitsun-Jones, Tony Calvin, Dan Meaden, Virginia Wetherell, Geoffrey Kenion, Anna Brett, Jackie Poole, Rosemary Lord, Petula Portell, Pat Brackenbury, Liz Romanoff, Will Stampe, Roy Evans, Derek Steen, John Lyons, Jeannette Wild, Bobby Parr, Julia Wright
screenplay by Brian Clemens, based on the novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, music by David Whitaker, song I'll be There by Brian Clemens, music supervisor: Philip Martell

Jekyll and Hyde, Jack the Ripper, Burke and Hare

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Doctor Jekyll (Ralph Bates) wants to create a super antivirus, an antivirus that is supposed to work against all known diseases at once. However, when he comes to the conclusion that this would take more than a lifetime, he searches for a drug to prolong life infinitely instead - and soon comes to the conclusion that the answer lies in female hormones. Yet when he tries his wonderdrug on himself, the results are not quite what he had expected, because instead of turning immortal, he becomes a woman, Mrs Hyde (Martine Beswick) - talk about an experiment gone wrong ...

This totally messes up Jekyll's lovelife for one, because while he is in a chaste almost-relationship with beautiful neighbour Susan (Susan Brodrick), Mrs Hyde soon starts having sex with Susan's brother Mortimer (Lewis Fiander) on a regular basis.

Despite all this confusion, Jekyll is convinced he's on the right track to create an immortality drug, but for that he needs more female hormones, and since women are not likely to give them away like that, he hires notorious graverobbers Burke (Ivor Dean) and Hare (Tony Calvin) to help out, and doesn't even mind that the terrible duo sometimes do some killing instead of robbing graves to keep their business floating.

Burke and Hare are not exactly popular among the populace though, and eventually they are lynched by a mob of angry Londoners - which means that Jekyll will have to take care of his supply of female corpses himself from now on ... and thus he starts killing prostitutes and is soon dubbed Jack the Ripper.

Jekyll's best friend, pathologist Professor Robertson (Gerald Sim), soon grows suspicious about the injuries the Jack the Ripper-victims show, and he has Jekyll's lab put under surveillance - but not in a way that Jekyll doesn't notice, so he just turns into Mrs Hyde to go out and does his killings as her. And when Robertson grows suspicious of her in the process, she pretends to seduce him but ultimately kills him.

In the end though, all of Jekyll and Hyde's trickery adds up to very little and he/she is chased through the streets of Whitechapel by an angry mob and ultimately falls off the roof in the process, turning from Hyde to Jekyll during the fall.

 


This film has several things going for it: The gender-change approach to Robert Louis Stevenson's often filmed novel is certainly original, and the fact that it's not done merely for laughs (despite a light-hearted treatment of the plot) does work for the movie. Also Ralph Bates and Martine Beswick compliment each other beautifully as Jekyll and Hyde, and once certainly cannot deny the charme of Hammer's Victorian era sets. That all said though, the film is at the same time less than perfect, its story repeatedly seems to go nowhere, many subplots are picked up and abandoned rather at will, and the script as such could have done with a re-write to make it more stringent. Still, an amusing film, not perfect maybe, but totally watchable.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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