Brad Baker | Atherton, Ca United States | 02/27/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In a clever gender-bending twist on the classic Robert Louis Stevenson tale, the research done by Dr. Henry Jekyll(Ralph Bates) involves experimentation with female hormones. The inevitable Jekyll-into-Hyde transformation takes place, and he changes into a ravishing female version of himself(movie siren Martine Beswick). Hammer Films' 1971 "Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde"s plot unravels slowly as the camera winds down foggy, moon-lit London streets. The edgy pace picks up, however, hustling to a typically thrilling ending. Once promoted as the new, younger Christopher Lee, Ralph Bates has the lead role. Sadly, he died young at age 51 of cancer. The distaff Hyde is played by exotic Martine Beswick, who was lovely as Bond Girls in 2 films. She danced in "One Million BC" for Hammer, and was awarded the lead in it's sequel, "Prehistoric Women". Today she runs a furniture moving business in London. Hammer veteran Roy Ward Baker directed "Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde". He is perhaps best known for the early Titanic classic "A Night to Remember". This Technicolor DVD is 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. It is uncut, with 3 provocative minutes never seen in American theaters. You get a trailer, radio spots, bios, and a fascinating audio commentary with the director, writer, and Beswick. Their memories of the inner workings of Hammer Films is delightful. This is a great spin on an old tale, and Bates and Beswick are excellent as two halves of the same whole."
Nothing more unattractive than a woman with the man hands...
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 10/26/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I knew there'd been quite a few versions and variations on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, both in film and on television, but I never realized how many until I did a little research. There are at least thirty listed on the internet movie database, many of which I hadn't even heard of, much less seen. Of the one's I'm familiar with, the versions with John Barrymore (1920), the Fredrich March (1931) and Spencer Tracy (1941), all three stick fairly close to the original source material. In Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971), the story is carried one step further, which should be evident from the title (I will say I wasn't really surprised to learn this film came out at the time it did, as the late 60's/early 70's brought with it a time of challenging social mores and just generally sticking it to the establishment...this ain't your father's Jeykll and Hyde).
Directed by Roy Ward Baker, who did films for both Hammer Studios (Quatermass and the Pit, Scars of Dracula) and its' rival Amicus (Asylum, The Vault of Horror), the film stars Ralph Bates (Taste the Blood of Dracula, Lust for a Vampire), along with three time Bond girl Martine Beswick (Dr. No - actually, her part in this one was pretty minimal, but I'll still count it, From Russia with Love, and Thunderball). Also appearing is Gerald Sim (The Man Who Haunted Himself), Lewis Fiander (Dr. Phibes Rises Again, and Susan Broderick, who really has few credits, this film being her most notable role.
As the film begins, Dr. Jekyll (Bates) is working on a universal panacea, or, one serum to cure many different diseases (the film appears to be set in sometime in the early 19th century, so there was plenty of work to do in this area). His friend and colleague, and also a very naughty womanizer (guess where this leads to), Professor Robertson (Sim) worries that Jekyll is working too hard, and points out that Jekyll will probably never complete his experiment as the time required to develop a cure for each disease, much less combining them into one cure-all serum, would take longer than one man's life span. Jekyll concedes to this truth, and decides to instead develop a formula that will extend a person's life, the key being female hormones (the thinking is women tend not to age as poorly as men, what with their ability to keep their hair and suppleness of skin). His results seem promising, but, as we all know, the proof is in the pudding, so Jekyll tries the serum on himself, and presto chango (literally) he turns into a woman, whom he explains away to his nosy neighbors as his widowed sister, Mrs. Hyde (Beswick). The problems arise in that in order to produce the serum, Jekyll needs certain hormone producing organs, located within women, and the local coroner (who's a real freak, I might add), can no longer fill Jekyll's needs, so Jekyll resorts to dismembering live women, mainly prostitutes (sometimes you have to do bad to do good), but the local authorities, not caring for all the dead bodies piling up, are hot to find this serial killer, so Jekyll uses his alter ego, Sister Hyde, to perform the grisly task. Only problem now is Sister Hyde is beginning to exert her will, vying for dominance over Dr. Jekyll as to who will ultimately control the one body shared by two, separate personalities. So, who will win? (I'm rooting for Sister Hyde, as she's pretty hot...)
I had some trepidation about this film, as the advertising (mainly that for the U.S.) focused on the kinkier bits, but that was just one, small aspect of the movie as a whole. I really enjoyed this movie, one that many consider to be one of the last, great Hammer Studios outings before they, along with the entire British film industry went down the tubes. Ralph Bates is really good as Jekyll, presenting a man torn between not only if his criminal actions justifying the means, but also struggling against a seemingly superior will in that of Sister Hyde. Bates was being groomed by Hammer to be one of their next new, young stars, as their most notable stars, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing were aging and commanded hefty fees now that their popularity was established. Bates might have assumed the mantle, had not the industry took a nosedive. Beswick is also very good, playing Jeykll's very sexy, evil female alter ego. The casting here was pretty inspired, along with the make up, as Bates and Beswick actually do share similarities, so the notion that they were one in the same was highly believable. Baker's direction works very well, evoking the style of the old, Universal horror films, while maintaining a contemporary attitude. I did enjoy the inter-cutting of like scenes, for example in the beginning when Jeykll is butchering a woman and we also see a butcher trimming a rabbit. The violence is mainly off screen, but there is a good amount of blood. I thought it kind of odd as the film had a particularly high body count and given the relatively small area where most all of the murders occurred, it served only to highlight the ineptness of the local authorities. The sets felt authentic, adding much to the film, but I think they were used in previous Hammer films as I could swear I recognized a few of them, specifically Jeykll's laboratory, from another film.
The widescreen print by Anchor Bay looks good, although, as another reviewer has already stated, the aspect ratio is such that a small part of the picture gets cropped out. Special features include a commentary track by star Martine Beswick, director Roy Ward Baker, and writer/co-producer Brian Clemens, moderated by historian Marcus Hearn, along with a theatrical trailer, radio spots, poster and still galleries, as well as some detailed talent bios.
High-grade B movie
Kevin Killian | 11/28/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I enjoyed this movie. By modern standards, the gore is subdued, and the acting is first rate. It runs a tight one and a half hours, and the plot zips right along. As the movie extras reveal, the sets were borrowed from other, higher budget movies, so there is nothing cheap about the look of the film. I'm glad someone thought enough of this film to put it on DVD."
Tight little Hammer Thriller with Atmosphere
W. Castle | West Point, CA United States | 07/18/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This film is a nice little Hammer shocker that is fun. The casting of the leads, Ralph Bates and Martine Beswick, is superb. There is ample atmosphere, fog shrouded England, sex and violence to go around also. I can only say the PG rating indicated must have been for the old U.S. cut when released, as this film is an R. Also nice, is these Republic are now being done in SP instead of the EP before."
Better Than FROM HELL
Kevin Killian | San Francisco, CA United States | 04/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Give this one a chance, for very few movies (horror genre or otherwise) have been built upon an uncanny resemblance between two stars, one male, one female, and DR JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE has a sort of gritty vitality that lifts it out of the ordinary Hammer league. Partly this is to the credit of Roy Ward Baker, but mostly it is due to the inspired playing of Ralph Bates and his female counterpart Martine Beswicke, each of them looking glorious and evil in what has become the signature role in both careers. Bates must have been an awfully small man; Martine B towers over him like King Kong over Fay Wray--not that you see them both in the same shot, but you can measure them visually because both use the same sets and in a lot of cases, Ralph Bates barely comes up to the doorknob of the Edinburgh laboratory where Jekyll does his foul work.
Beswicke's dark eyes and pouting, petulant lips will remind 21st century fanboys of Angelina Jolie, maybe a little slighter, but even scarier in the part of Sister Hyde. It's a little kinky I suppose that she's "really" a man, but Ralph Bates never really gets himself in any sex situations he can't extricate himself from. I guess that would have been too much even for the decadent 70s phase of Hammer films in which nudity and Lesbianism became de rigueur (Bates had just come off LUST FOR A VAMPIRE when assigned this film).
Listening to Ward Baker, Brian Clemens and Martine on the commentary track makes you realize how much was lost first by Ralph Bates' curtailed career, then by his death. He really was a marvellous actor, even if he was short (he was able to project on screen so that audiences read him as tall and commanding)."