Welcome to the first ever article in the new segment I'm going to call Markus Obscurus where I give my thoughts on movies you've probably never even heard of.
Let me begin by asking: have you ever wanted to see the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde fused with the Whitechapel Murders? No? Well the geniuses at Hammer Productions gave us that in 1972 with Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde.
For those who have no idea who Hammer Productions are, they are an amazing company who made a name for themselves in the 1950s to the 1970s by making their own darker and bloodier versions of the famous monsters such as Dracula, Curse of Frankenstein, the Mummy, etc; most famous being the many Dracula movies starring the late and great Christopher Lee. While I love those movies, I find this one to be a personal favorite.
The movie stars Ralph Bates as the titular Dr. Henry Jekyll, who is a brilliant scientist trying to cure all sicknesses in the world but when a colleague tells him that the research would take him decades to complete, he decides to switch his focus to creating the Fountain of Youth in a single drink. Jekyll becomes obsessed with perfecting the formula and even tests one serum made from female hormones (which he gains from the bodies of "working girls" he gets from Hare and Burke of Whitechapel) on a common housefly and discovers that it worked; he has extended the insect's life by three whole days. However the test proves pointless when his colleague points out that it is a female fly...or is it?
After accepting his neighbor's invitation to come to dinner, he decides to test the formula on himself and following the Jekyll and Hyde tradition, it changes the good doctor but in a very different way than usual. Dr. Jekyll transforms into the very beautiful woman who Jekyll calls Mrs. Hyde played by Martine Beswick. She starts off as just a curious woman with an infatuation for the brother of Jekyll's neighbor but again following the Jekyll & Hyde, she slowly evolves into something evil.
That's all I'll really say because I think you should find this obscure gem and check it out for yourself because it is quite an interesting movie. Keep in mind that this was the seventies so certain effects like the transformations between Jekyll and Hyde are a little... dated to say the least but other than that, this is a well made movie.
Like always, Hammer does a fantastic job nailing the gothic Victorian era atmosphere with the streets of Whitechapel being very dark with a thick fog. The interiors, exteriors, the costumes: everything feels perfect to immerse you into the world. That along with the actors who all handle their roles well especially the two leads: Ralph Bates and Martine Beswick. Beswick pulls off the perfect villainess because she maybe easy on the eyes and can even appear to be a sweet woman but when she goes into full creepy mode, she is quite threatening.
Obviously this version of Jekyll and Hyde does things differently with the gender bending element but it also strays away from the usual formula in many ways. Like I said, they managed to include the real Whitechapel Murders in a very clever way. Guess that makes this Jekyll the Ripper... eh? Eh? Am I right?
And instead of having Hyde out to be a crazed rapist, they made Hyde a devious, smart, and calculating vixen that is only in love with one man. And instead of Jekyll having to drink a multitude of serums, the changes into Hyde come at random making her more of a threat.
Overall this is an underrated gem from the Hammer library that I think you should check out. A few scenes are a little cheesy but other than that it is a well written, well acted, and well executed horror that I urge you to check out yourself. Warning, this is Hammer so blood and nudity are involved in the film. I give Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde a High Golden rating.
Have you seen Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde? Did you like it? And should I continue Markus Obscurus? Let me know in the comments below!