Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Mike Raven, Richard Hurndall, George Merritt
Director: Stephen Weeks
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
In this chilling twist on the classic Jekyll and Hyde story, psychologist Charles Marlowe (The Lord of the Rings' Christopher Lee) invents a drug which releases his patients' inhibitions - but tests on himself result in th... more »
Long overdue DVD, but for collectors ONLY!
Thomas G. Morrison | Toronto, Ontario Canada | 01/21/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"At long last, a DVD release of this 1970 Amicus release. Perhaps too late, considering the brisk sales of the bootleg over the internet, etc. However, I would have to recommend this release only for the most avid collectors/completists of Amicus/Hammer/Christopher Lee/Peter Cushing/British horror. This both on the merits of the DVD, and of the film itself. The film is essentially a fairly faithful adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, with the names inexplicably changed to Dr. Marlowe and Mr. Blake. The story of its filming has been told well elsewhere and often (the abortive 3D process etc.), and the loss of time and money unfortunately show in the film. There is a definite air of poverty about the production. This sometimes works in its favor (in the seedy lower London scenes, for example), but some of the material could have probably been reworked with more time/money. There are some deft touches, with some psychological pointedness, such as the exchange between Marlowe (Christopher Lee) and his friend Utterson (Peter Cushing) regarding the mysterious Mr. Blake.
"How well did you know my father?" Marlowe says. "He carried a gold-headed walking stick. He used it for things other than walking."
"Your friend Blake carries such a walking stick," Utterson points out.
And there is a brilliant scene involving an encounter with a child in Hyde Park (!) where Marlowe realises that his life of freedom and excess is just as much a prison for the soul as was stuffy convention.
There are also the pleasures of the various performances, and it is always a joy to watch Cushing and Lee on screen, both individually and together. But the entertainment value of this film will be lost on the average viewer. This is not meant to be in any way a slight. The film has its appeal, but only for those of us deeply ensconsed, perhaps lost in the Britsh horror oeuvre of the 1970s.
The DVD presentation is culled from several source elements, and so varies in quality. The extras are a still gallery, a grainy black and white theatrical trailer, and a reproduction of the original pressbook included in the case.
I am very glad to have this film in my DVD library, but I thoroughly understand anyone who disdains it. If you are curious, rent it first. Purchase only if you are familiar with the film."
THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. MARLOWE (???) AND MR. BLAKE (???) .
SwellBooks | Park Ridge, IL | 01/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is an interesting version of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic "The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", starring horror legends Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. If only the screenplay had been a little better this film could have been a horror masterpiece. Because Lee is wonderful in the title role, which for some arcane reason known only to writer/ producer Mr. Milton Subotsky, has been renamed Dr. Marlowe and Mr. Blake while all the supporting characters have the names from the book. The only reason I can imagine this was done was to hide (Hyde) the fact that it was an adaptation of Dr. J & Mr. H, probably one of the books most often filmed. But anyone who saw this film and didn't realize its origin, well...they must be really dim bulbs let me tell you.
Regardless, Lee is wonderful in the part. His Blake/Hyde is a truly evil, vile, ugly creature. The scene of his pusuit through the London streets of a prostitute near the end is really frightening. When he catches up to her there is a close-up of his face that is bone chilling. Lee is equally good as as the kindly Dr. Marlowe. He first tests his drug out on his pet cat. The cat runs off wildly, knocking over stuff in his lab and finally attacking Marlowe. Marlowe throws the cat to the floor, picks up a poker from the fireplace and hits the cat once. The look on his face as he realizes what he has done is great. Its a mixture of sorrow and revulsion, with a glint of tears in his eyes. Its a priceless moment and shows that Mr. Lee is a truly great actor.
Peter Cushing is wasted in a rather small, bland part as Marlowe's lawyer. However, their fight at the conclusion is another great Lee/Cushing confrontation to add to their impressive oeuvre.
If only the screenplay had been a bit more exciting, this would have been a great film. Many will find the script slow and talkative. But if you're patient you will find much to enjoy. In some ways the script is more faithful to the Stevenson original, there is no love interest for Dr. Marlowe/ Jekyll as is the case in most filmed versions, but being more faithful to the source material is not always a good thing.
The film is letterboxed but not with 16X9 enhancement. The DVD was made from 2 prints in an attempt to get a good picture. The producers of the DVD apologize for the quality of the picture, which has color problems occasionally. But I can overlook this minor annoyance and I think most fans of Lee and/or Cushing will be able to as well. For this is an interesting film with one of Lee's best performances and diserves to be more widely seen.
The extras on the disc include the trailer and a small photo gallery which includes some nice stills, one of note, is of the child actress Chloe Franks, best known to horror fans for her roles in "THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD" (as the angelic and bewitching daughter of Chris Lee in the "Sweets to the Sweet" episode), "WHO SLEW AUNTIE ROO?", "TROG", etc. She has a tiny role as the girl Blake/Hyde runs over in the street. We only see this episode in a blurry dream sequence and she is not seen for long, but that is her.
The other extra is a reproduction of the British press book for the film. This 4 page insert is a great addition. It includes several photos from the film, cast list, brief bio of Lee and Cushing, and examples of poster art for the film. If only more DVDs had an extra like this. It really adds to the appreciation of the film.
All in all, this isn't the great film it could have been, but Lee is great and the film really isn't too bad, so discrimanating horror fans should like it. -George Bauch."
"What would I be doing with an ugly thing like you?"
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 04/18/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I was pleased to see someone bothered to dig up I, Madman (1973) - Amazon gives 1973 as the theatrical release date, but the IMDb lists 1971, so perhaps one is the American release date, and the other a UK release date -a musty, under appreciated Amicus (The Studio That Dripped Blood) film for a DVD release, as it gives me hope that perhaps there's enough interest to see the release of some of what Amicus was really known for, that being their horror anthologies. I would surely like to see such films as Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965), Tales from the Crypt (1972), and Tales That Witness Madness (1973) made available on DVD. Based on the story The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson and directed by Stephen Weeks (Gawain and the Green Knight), the film brings together the legendary stars Christopher Lee (Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith) and Peter Cushing (The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires) in one of their many, on screen collaborations. Also appearing is Mike Raven (Lust for a Vampire), Richard Hurndall (Doctor Who: The Five Doctors), George Merritt (Quatermass 2), and former rock singer-turned actor Michael Des Barres (To Sir, with Love).
Lee is Dr. Charles Marlowe, a psychologist in the process of developing some kind of serum that would effectively break down unconscious barriers and free ones inhibitions. What's the therapeutic value of such a formula? Well, he believes that many illnesses of the mind are due to repressed desires, and by allowing one to confront these, it is the first step to accepting them, and will ultimately lead to a healthier individual...or something like that. He does try it on a couple of patients with some startling (and kinda funny) results, but is unwilling to give them multiple doses, so, like any respectable man of science, he begins injecting himself. This brings forth the persona of Mr. Edward Blake, a grotesque, hideous, impulsive man who prowls the night looking for something...cheap thrills, perhaps? Anyway, as Marlowe's friends and colleagues, particularly his lawyer (or barrister, as they say in England...man, those English have a different word for everything) Frederick Utterson (Cushing) begin to question his involvement with this Mr. Blake, Marlowe himself sees the personality of Blake growing stronger and finds himself increasingly disgusted with, well, himself, so he vows to stop taking the serum...but guess what, he doesn't need to take it anymore as Blake now appears without its aid, and his crimes become more and more serious. Will Blake assume control completely? Or will Utterson come to understand what's happening to Marlowe and save him from himself?
Younger viewers may find it curious the opening bit before the film begins in that of a graphic featuring swirling colors, funky music, and the words `Our Feature Presentation'. If you were around in the 70's and went to the movies, you'll remember this, and, perhaps like myself, appreciate the inclusion...nice touch by Retromedia. Anyway, upon putting the DVD in my player, the first thing that popped up was a disclaimer apologizing for the quality of the film, as it was culled from a number of different audio and video sources to present the most complete version possible. Uh oh...I'll talk more about the quality of the audio/video aspects later. As far as the film itself, I've heard this version, which producer Milton Subotsky also wrote the screenplay for, follows the source material closer than most of the films out there, especially the more popular versions, except for the fact he didn't use the names Jekyll and Hyde, apparently to avoid any legal difficulties. I've generally always enjoyed Lee and Cushing regardless of what they're in (although Lee seems to have appeared in quite a bit more schlock than Cushing, but, then again, he's also outlived his friend and has done enormously well in his later years, so who's laughing now?), and having them together usually guarantees a good time, at least for myself. I thought both actors did well, but I was a little sadden to see Cushing relegated to a relatively insignificant role, his appearing in the film more of a chance to use his name for advertising rather than his skills as an actor...oh well, there are no small parts, right? I thought the script very strong, and the sets and various props incredibly detailed preserving the feel of this period piece wonderfully. There's a whole lot of talk early on about Freud and his theories, and theorizing about whether good and evil are inherent or stem from societal influences, so for those looking for a bit more of the spectacular may be disappointed. I liked the way the transformation scenes were handled, as there's really no visual display of this as Marlowe changes to Blake, but more of a before and after kind of thing. Lee did look a little goofy at times as Blake, often with a goofy grin on his face, but the later scenes, where the effect becomes more pronounced, are pretty good. All in all not a bad little movie but not for everyone, but fans of Hammer and Amicus will probably want to check this relative rarity out. One thing to note, this film was originally going to be released in 3D, but the idea was nixed about halfway through because it wasn't working or something. Some scenes were re-shot, but occasionally you will notice items being thrust forth...it's not as obvious as that John Candy/Dr. Tongue skit on the SCTV show, but it's still kind of odd.
The picture quality on the non-anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) is pretty rough. The fleshtones are sickly, the colors are either muted or overly garish (especially the reds), and there is quite a bit of picture grain throughout. The audio is a little better, but will require one to turn up the volume as it's on the soft side. As far as extras go, there is a very rough trailer, a still gallery, and something that made up for much of what this release may have been lacking in an amazing reproduction of an original, British pressbook.
OK British thriller Marred by Lousy Print
W. Castle | West Point, CA United States | 01/19/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is not a bad british horror film, but the quality of this DVD transfer is appallingly bad...sound full of hisses and pops, picture unsharp and murky, obviously taken from a 16mm master print. With this quality, it belongs in the under $5.00 bin at Walmart. A very low quality release indeed."