01/02/2009

DR JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE (1971)

Day #343

Sartre once said "Hell is other people" but obviously the beady-eyed existentialist twat had never spent 343 - or whatever it's been - days in a bloody freezing cold igloo. In an arctic wasteland. In a force-field.

I yearn for some company with all my soul. Someone real. Someone human. For all I have is the ghosts who haunt my dreams. The ghosts of those I have slain. Of those I have hurt. Of those who I've wronged. And of those who I wanted to wrong but didn't get round to wronging.

In the name of God, how long will this cursed solitude last???


DR JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE (1971)



With a title – and a premise – straight out of a Two Ronnies Christmas Special ( Ronnie Corbett would play Dr Jekyll. Ronny Barker would be the hapless detective. Sister Hyde would be… Kate O’ Meara probably)

thank God we’ve got the wonderful Ralph Bates to make this shit sound plausible. In my opinion he’s on a par with Peter Cushing at being utterly, utterly convincing even when spouting the most ludicrous gobbledegook and bamboozling mumbo-jumbo.

Wonderful wonderful actor, Ralph Bates. What a striking looking chap – black, black, hair. Black, black eyes. Black, black… clothes as well usually. And features so sharp they’d cut your throat. Although he appeared in a mere handful of Hammer Horrors he shone and oozed class in every one - his Baron Frankenstein is a wonderful sociopath, and he died far too soon in ‘Taste the Blood of Dracula’ for my liking.

He died far too soon for my liking in real life as well, succumbing to cancer in 1981, at only 51 years of age. Robbing us of many wonderful performances…

Dr Jekyll and sister Hyde then. Ronnie Corbett, sorry, Ralph Bates plays Dr Jekyll, a gaunt young chap who spends way too much time in his laboratory doing all sorts of weird and wonderful experiments - searching for the elixir of life, no less.

So intent is he on his research that he fails to notice he has won the heart of the attractive young lady who lives upstairs for him. Actually, she’s fairly annoying so maybe he just doesn’t give a toss.

Back to his lab we go, and exciting news! He’s done it – he’s found the secret of everlasting life! Only one slight catch, something hardly worth bothering about surely, not even worth mentioning imho… his elixir turns him into a woman - Sister Hyde, played by the wonderfully cast Martine Beswick. And what a great looking woman she is - and she also looks kind of like Ralph Bates, which can’t have been an easy thing to pull off. So fair play her to then. And because it’s the 70’s, we also get to see her fondle her breasts a bit. Fair play to her again. Apparently the drop dead gorgeous Caroline Munro turned down the part because of this brief nude scene. So the opposite of fair play to her then.

Dr Jekyll is now in turmoil (as was I when I almost got caught dressed as woman in the East End of London. But that’s another story) and he finds himself spiralling downwards ever downwards into an abyss of corpse-snatching, mutilations, murders and mistakenly ordering ladies undergarments. Again, behaviour which I must profess to being all too familiar with.

When his bodysnatching accomplices Burke and Hare get lynched, Dr Jekyll resorts to finding his own victims - the prostitutes of London’s old east End. This being the late Victorian era, it’s soon becomes clear that Dr Jekyll is in fact, doing the deeds that we know ascribe to Jack the Ripper.

Whoah! I hear you say. Jack the Ripper? Burke and Hare? Surely they were years apart? Surely Burke and Hare were actually from Edinburgh now that you come to think of it? Well yes, I must confess you’re spot on. In fact this peculiar discrepancy in time and place is listed as a ‘goof’ in IMDB. But I say piff and poppycock to this - a goof? Come on, it’s a work of genius! Jack the Ripper and Burke and Hare appearing together in a Hammer Horror is just as it should be. This is Hammer world remember folks, not the real world. And the two are very different places. For example when was the last time you walked through a forest at night and the sun was shining?

And because it’s Hammer world we’re in, it’s not too long until an angry mob appears from nowhere intent on dishing out some vigilante justice to the devilish Dr J and/or Sister H. He/she escapes, but instead of hailing a Hansom cab and making a swift exit, he (I’ve decide he’s a he) decides to climb up onto a very high and very unsafe roof.

The end is now on sight. Dr Jekyll only has time to quickly turn into Sister Hyde before falling to his death. The moral of the story as the credits roll is obvious.
DON’T. PLAY. GOD. Christ, how many times do you have to spell it out to these people??

Here's the trailer:

1 comment:

  1. The quality of movie posters sure has deteriorated, eh?

    ReplyDelete