'The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll' review by MartialHorror
Please check out the site!
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.
“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.
my reviews of martial arts and horror films