Max J. Rosenberg, Milton Subotsky for Amicus
directed by Stephen Weeks
starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Mike Raven, Richard Hurndall, George Merritt, Kenneth J. Warren, Susan Jameson, Marjie Lawrence, Aimée Delamain, Michael Des Barres, Lesley Judd, Ian McCulloch
screenplay by Milton Subotsky, based on The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, music by Carl Davis
Jekyll and Hyde
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Based on the teachings of Sigmund Freud, Doctor Marlowe (Christopher
Lee) develops a serum that seperates the id, ego and super-ego and turns
its recipient either into a wimpering idiot (no idea what that has to do
with the super-ego) or a really evil person who enjoys evil for its own
sake. After experimenting on animals and patients for a while, he tests
the serum on himself, and experiences the pleasures of being plain evil.
For his evil side, he has even created a new, seperate character, Mr Blake
- but this Mr Blake gets uglier with each crime he commits ...
Mr Blake can be traced down to Dr Marlowe, and his mentor Lanyon (Richard
Hurndall) and especially his friend Utterson (Peter Cushing) grow
increasingly worried about the situation, believing Marlowe is
blackmailed. Then Blake is even linked to a murder ...
With the murder,
Marlowe knows he has crossed a line, and he vows to never take his serum
again - but then again he no longer has to, he now turns into Blake just
like that, and all his efforts to suppress his evil self lead to nothing,
nothing but the murder of his mentor Lanyon.
Eventually, Blake figures
Utterson knows way too much about him (including his actual identity,
possibly), so he decides to murder him as well, but Utterson puts up
resistance, sets Blake on fire and throws him down a staircase to his
death. It's only then that Blake turns back into Marlowe, revealing his
terrible secret to the world.
Blending the often-told tale of Jekyll
and Hyde with Sigmund Freud's theory might sound rather
interesting (if not exactly far-fetched) in writing, but on film it
amounts to little more than another retelling of an old tale with some
scientific mumbo-jumbo thrown into it. The scientific stuff is not the
problem though, it's the film's total disregard of story buildup, decent
pacing, sucpense and scare tactics and the like, turning its rather
well-written source novel that's full of possibilities into a piece of
genre cinema that's definitely less than great, in fact it's rather
boring. Not even Christopher Lee giving one of his more interesting
performances and the always dependable Peter Cushing can save the film -
and it's not for their lack of trying ...
By the way: Why the
names in this film were changed from Jekyll and Hyde to Marlowe and Blake
is left at anybody's guess, especially since even the credits identify
Robert Louis Stevenson as writer of the source material (while not calling
the book by name though).