“I walked the streets, brooding on the bitter irony that all I wanted to do for humanity, for life, would be cheated by death… unless I could cheat death.” And eventually, he discovered… you can’t cheat a cheater. Join your faithful Grue Crew – Doc Rotten, Chad Hunt, Bill Mulligan, and Jeff Mohr – as they discuss Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde(1971), a Hammer film with a twist on the classic Robert Louis Stevenson story.
Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 175 – Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde (1971)
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A Victorian scientist tests a serum that transforms him into a sensuous murderess.
- Director: Roy Ward Baker
- Writers: Brian Clemens (screenplay); Robert Louis Stevenson (based upon the story by)
- Selected cast:
- Ralph Bates as Dr. Henry Jekyll/Jack the Ripper
- Martine Beswick as Mrs. Edwina Hyde
- Gerald Sim as Professor Robertson
- Lewis Fiander as Howard Spencer
- Susan Brodrick as Susan Spencer
- Dorothy Alison as Mrs. Spencer
- Ivor Dean as William Burke
- Tony Calvin as William Hare
- Philip Madoc as Byker
- Paul Whitsun-Jones as Sergeant Danvers
- Virginia Wetherell as Betsy
- Dan Meaden as Town Crier
- Neil Wilson as Older Policeman
Bill describes Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde as a mid-level Hammer film searching for the magic mix that can reverse the company’s fortunes during the beginning of its decline. At the same time, he gives the filmmakers credit for their creativity and for the transformation scenes that, though not perfect, are well done. Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde was not at the top of the list of Hammer films he hadn’t yet seen, but Jeff’s glad he did experience it. He praises the filmmakers and actors for depicting the Jekyll and Hyde variations as somewhat androgynous, helping to make the transformations believable. He also likes the triple threat of Jekyll/Hyde, Jack the Ripper, and Burk & Hare nicely combined into one story by writer Brian Clemens. Doc, who chose Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde for this episode, also describes it as an example of Hammer reaching for some answers. To him, the way the film’s themes are handled doesn’t really hold up while admitting the failure might be a product of the times in which it was made. He also describes Dr. Jekyll as a role more complex than many, possibly making it Ralph Bates’ best Hammer role.
The 70s Grue-Crew universally laud Martine Beswick’s performance and lament the absence of any character in the film for which to root. For those wishing to watch, or rewatch, Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde, the film is available to stream from Tubi, Freevee, The Roku Channel, Peacock, Hoopla, and several PPV sources. The film is also available as a Blu-ray disc from Scream Factory. Of course, this information is as of the time of this writing.
Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror 1970s is part of the Decades of Horror two-week rotation with The Classic Era and the 1980s. In two weeks, the next episode in their very flexible schedule, chosen by Jeff, will be Blue Sunshine (1977). That one should be a fun trip. (See what I did there?)
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