DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE. (1971) A HAMMER FILM PRODUCTION. DIRECTED BY ROY WARD BAKER. BASED ON THE WRITINGS OF ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON. STARRING RALPH BATES, MARTINE BESWICK AND GERALD SIM.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
This is one of Hammer’s slickest, sexiest and most stylish offerings. Ralph Bates and Martine Beswick are two incredibly charismatic and bewitching performers, who incidentally bear a considerable resemblance to each other, so it’s not at all a stretch to imagine them as the two sides of the brother/sister coin here, Bates as Dr. Jekyll and Beswick as his female alter ego, Mrs. Edwina Hyde.
Dr. Henry Jekyll starts the film by being one of the good guys, a doctor intent on finding cures for various of the diseases that plague mankind, the plague being one, lol. But when his womanising chum and fellow medical man, Professor Robertson, makes a throwaway remark about how poor old Dr. Jekyll will be dead long before he sees his efforts come to fruition, because every cure takes so long to find, Henry freaks out.
Terrified that he will die before he gets to finish his life’s work, Henry frantically starts drinking a potion made from female hormones (his reasoning being that women seemingly lived longer than men; I wouldn’t have thought so, in the London of Jack the Ripper’s times, but whatever…!) obtained from female corpses.
Yes, that’s right, corpses. He’s got quite a nice little sideline going with Byker, the local mortuary attendant. (Henry: I want them female, no older than twenty. Byker, salaciously: That’s ‘ow I likes ’em too, Doctor…!) The suggestion of necrophilia hangs heavily in the air.
To Henry’s utter amazement (and the really amazing thing is that he didn’t see this coming…!), the hormones have the effect of turning Henry periodically (no pun intended) into a stunningly beautiful woman, an alter ego he calls Mrs. Edwina Hyde, his ‘sister,’ to anyone who asks.
Martine Beswick is truly ravishing as Mrs. Hyde. She dresses mainly in striking red gowns and black cloaks and adorable little hats (when she’s not cavorting around in the buff, that is!), and her long glossy black hair, red, cruelly sensual lips and razor-sharp cheekbones all combine to create one hell of a beautiful, sexually desirable (and sexually forward!) woman.
Certainly, Howard Spencer, her gallant upstairs neighbour, is totally smitten with her, and even Henry, her male alter ego, seems thrilled about having a female side to his nature. Look at the way he laughs delightedly when he finds he has breasts, lol. No man who wakes up and finds he has breasts, even if he didn’t ask for them, is going to miss out on the chance to cop a good long feel…!
There’s a downside to Mrs. Hyde’s charming existence, however. A deadly struggle for supremacy between Henry and Edwina begins, in which Sister Hyde has the edge, as she seems to have the stronger and more determined personality.
Well, women are the stronger sex, of course. We birth the babies and we pick up the pieces when the men who run the world screw up and need our assistance, but naturally we don’t boast about it…
Also, when Burke and Hare get nicked by an angry mob and they can’t any longer supply Henry with the female corpses he needs for his work, Henry has to go out and kill ‘live’ women in order to achieve his goals.
Poor old Jack the Ripper gets the blame for Henry Jekyll’s diabolical work, but it won’t be long before the bobbies of Whitechapel put two and two together and figure out the similarity between Saucy Jack’s handiwork and Dr. Jekyll’s.
Is it curtains for Dr. Jekyll then? And what about the evil Sister Hyde, who also now has a taste for killing? Let’s hope she doesn’t croak before she gets to murder Sappy Susan, the insipid sister of Howard-from-upstairs, who’s set her frilly cap at the handsome Dr. Jekyll, who might be easy on the eye but he has no time for wimmin, not now he’s splendidly embroiled in the search for the elixir of life…
Bates and Beswick are an example of one hundred percent perfect casting. They were exactly the two people who should have been cast in the roles of Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, being both gorgeous, a bit mysterious and immensely sexually attractive to the viewers, whichever way we swing, lol.
The Hammer sets and costumes are glorious as usual, and I loved the inclusion of the real-life bodysnatchers, Burke and Hare, and good old Jack the Ripper, all three of which were part and parcel of the fabric of Britain’s history.
I loved the Bill Sykes in OLIVER!-slash-Christopher Lee in I, MONSTER-style ending, too. This is a story we horror fans never tire of seeing re-made, and you’ll certainly never tire of watching the deuced attractive Ralph Bates morphing into the sexy-as-hell Martine Beswick. Happy viewing.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.