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'The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll' review by MartialHorror


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THE TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL(1960)
(Directed by Terence Fisher)

"A film that might be so good that it's bad."- Signed by MartialHorror.

Plot: Another Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde tale, this time about the good doctor accidentally releasing his violent side, who sets a strange series of events that lead to death.

Review:


“The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll” mildly caught my interest for two reasons. The first is that both director Terence Fisher and actor Christopher Lee, part of the H-Team(along with Peter Cushing), were attached. The 2nd and most prominent is that it was double billed with “The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb”, which I watched because it was a sequel to “Terror of the Mummy”. Yeah, it’s complicated. Unfortunately peeps, I did not like “The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll” at all. But did I dislike it for the right reasons? Read on.

The film begins with Dr. Jekyll(Massie) giving some exposition that I personally found hard to follow. Basically, he wants to separate the good and evil side, making a pure being who is above morality. At first, I was under the impression that he felt the evil side was better, but then he indicates that he simply wants to look evil in the face and defeat it. Bleh, Dr. Jekyll in many ways is like Peter Cushing’s Dr. Frankenstein(“The Curse of Frankenstein”). I imagine that they would’ve gotten along quite well. The difference is that Frankenstein rarely, if ever, showed any remorse for his actions. He is an amoral scientist. Jekyll on the other hand might think the same way, but without realizing it, he is still a slave to morality. Jekyll learns that morality is a necessity to survive. Hence, he’s an actual developing character.

Dr. Jekyll is actually quite boring and a bit repressed. He has neglected his wife, Kitty(Addams), which we assume drove her into the arms of his best friend, Paul(Lee), who also frequently borrows money from Jekyll. Jekyll realizes what he’s done and actually reaches out to his wife for reconciliation, but she doesn’t realize how serious he is. Dismayed, he takes an injection that erases morality(temporarily) from his being…..and for some reason changes his hair and takes away his beard. I never really got that….Soon, Mr. Hyde(Massie again) is born. Does he go out and kill people? No. Actually, he just wants to have some fun, although he does get carried away at times. However, he begins to lust after Kitty, but when he is rejected, must blackmail Paul into letting him seduce her. This begins a surprisingly interesting conspiracy by Hyde, although it doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.

So why didn’t I like the movie? Well, in all fairness, I expected a horror film. I mean, can you blame me? It is a Hammer studio film, which produces horror, it’s directed by a horror director and co-stars a horror star. Yet the film is never scary. It took me awhile to figure out that wasn't incompetence that kept it from being scary, but intent. It’s supposed to be a character understudy/drama, which is a bit baffling. I suppose I can defend my opinion by saying that the film had little effect on me, but it still wouldn’t be very fair.

In fact, it’s almost quite shocking to see how they make a point that this isn’t a horror. Just look at Jekyll’s lab. It doesn’t look menacing, or even flamboyant. It’s quite boring, but is probably more realistic for it. While the art design is very colorful, nothing ever really strikes out at us viewers as meant to be frightening.

I will give the film credit though. The actors do keep this movie afloat. Paul Massie(Jekyll/Hyde) does so good as the split personalities, I actually didn’t even realize they were played by the same actor at first. Too bad his career never really took off. Dawn Addams(Kitty) does fine as the wife. Christopher Lee(Paul) gives one of his best performances as the sleazy friend. Very different. One interesting note about the characters is that no one is really sympathetic, but aren’t unsympathetic either. Strange.

If you like “The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll”, then I can understand why. My biggest qualm about it was that I simply expected a horror, so I can’t really give my own review very much credibility. But all in all, it simply did nothing for me. I will say that Paul Massie does a great job, and Christopher Lee gets to play something that isn’t Dracula.

Violence: Some. Nothing too heavy.

Nudity: Implied, off-screen rape. Lots of sexuality, but no nudity.

Overall: I wouldn’t recommend “The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll” unless what I’m telling you interests you. Actually, if it interests you, go read somebody else’s review. Someone who isn’t as biased would give a much better review of the movie than I could.

2/4 Stars


my reviews of martial arts and horror films
http://freewebs.com/martialhorror



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You're an idiot.

.

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Comments like those always amuse me, as they suggest that you disagree but lack the ability to defend yourself. Hence, petty insults.

my reviews of martial arts and horror films
http://freewebs.com/martialhorror



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I just saw this and actually liked it pretty well. I agree that it's not quite horror in the usual "Hammer" type horror sense. It's interesting on a more psychological sense. Not my favorite Hammer film, but certainly worth having in my collection. There were a couple good horror scenes

I was actually surprised that they were able to get the girl dancing with the snake scene intact without censorship intervention. Pretty obvious symbolism there.

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nice review.



When there's no more room in hell, The dead will walk the earth...

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"I expected a horror film. I mean, can you blame me? It is a Hammer studio film, which produces horror, it’s directed by a horror director and co-stars a horror star." By your "reasoning," you can expect a horror film when you watch Sword Of Sherwood Forest. "It’s supposed to be a character understudy/drama, which is a bit baffling." That this film was what it was intended to be shouldn't be baffling at all.

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I understand what you're saying. I too expected a bit more of the grotesque horror elements that were common in the Hammer films of the time.

I was a bit shocked at some of the stronger material--implied nudity, taboo subject matters such as rape and prostitution, and some fairly strong language. (Obviously, none of this would be super shocking today, but for 1960, it was pretty edgy.)

I thought Paul Massie did an excellent job portraying the two "faces" of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I initially thought it was two different actors. He really did a great job of giving each persona a real identity.

Ultimately, I just never felt much sympathy for any of the characters. There is a slight amount of suspense at the end to see if Mr. Hyde will be clever enough to get out of the mess he created, but there is never really any person or even an idea to root for. Conventional morality seems very stuffy and confining, and the libertine philosophy seems unfulfilling and ultimately damaging to all involved.

I guess the moral of the story is to find balance: Everyone needs to be themselves, not what society says they should be, yet they need to do so with love and compassion.

I will say that this is one of the few Jekyll & Hyde films that has ever really made me think about the moral ideas being examined, so I guess it succeeds on that level.

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