(Review originally written at 28 September 2006)

This movie surpassed my expectations in almost every way possible. It has a genuine creepy atmosphere, the story was build up well and above all very professionally and artistically directed. A true pinnacle among Hammer studio movies and '70's horror in general.

Hammer movies aren't exactly known for their subtle or believably told stories. The movies are mostly always simple entertainment without a real solid story or creepy atmosphere. This movie is however a real pleasant exception to this all.

The movie is basically a very free interpretation of the famous story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. As a matter of fact, this movie its story has absolutely nothing to do with the Robert Louis Stevenson novel. All that it uses from the novel is the name of the main character but that really is about all. The story of Dr. Jekyll changing into a woman, due to a life elixir that is supposed to extend a persons lifespan, might sound extremely silly and ridicules at first but the concept works surprising well in the movie. Never before has the inner conflict between the 'good' Dr. Jekyll and the 'evil' Hyde side been brought more interesting and striking to the silver screen. Also the rest of the cast and character make sure that the movie works out.

The movie takes its time to build up the story and set up the right mood. The movie doesn't immediately start off as a creepy one but due to the extremely well build up and directing the movie slowly transfers into a great intriguing movie about an inner conflict. The movie is also filled with more than enough gory and creepy sequences which all helps to make this a forgotten Hammer studio movie that is among the very best of its period.

I really thank the wonderful directing from Roy Ward Baker for making this movie what it is. The movie is extremely well build up, without ever forcing anything. It tells the completely ridicules and far from believable story in the most compelling and interesting way possible. Due to that the movie becomes good and believable in its own way. The movie is also filled with some great artistic sequences that work effective as well.

Of course non of the actors in this movie are among the best of all time to put it mildly, although Gerald Sim makes a pretty good impression. Ralph Bates also acts well but he isn't the most charismatic actor, which makes his character perhaps a bit flat at times. Still thanks to the most fine directing, all of the performance work out well in the movie. Perhaps it's due to the fact that there aren't any familiar actors in it, that this movie is so little known.

The movie is good looking with some nice sets and costumes and some atmospheric cinematography, that all helps to set up the right mood for the movie. It gives the movie a genuine creepy atmosphere and moody sequences, in which you never know what is going to happen next. The absurd story at the same time also makes sure that the remains mostly unpredictable, in its little things, for the main plot is of course predictable from start till finish.

A great underrated Hammer production from Roy Ward Baker, that deserves to be seen and praised more for what it is.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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