The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Os­bourne

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Dvd & blu- ray -

Hyde and seek

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

1981 | 18 | Dual- for­mat Blu- ray/ DVD Direc­tor: Wa­le­rian Borowczyk Cast: Udo Kier, Ma­rina Pierro, Pa­trick Magee, Howard Ver­non, Cle­ment Harari

Of all the

adap­ta­tions of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, Wa­le­rian Borowczyk’s lit­tle- seen take is the most outré, with the Pol­ish direc­tor adding the at­tributes he brought to films like bes­tial­ity fan­tasy The Beast – such as a ter­ri­fy­ingly pro­por­tioned erect pe­nis.

In the book, about the worst that hap­pens is a lit­tle girl be­ing tram­pled un­der­foot. Here, we’re treated to close- ups of a raped woman’s blood­ied crotch and queasy chat about dam­aged labia.

It’s a film with an im­pro­visatory feel, which de­spite its provoca­tive con­tent has some dull stretches. As Jekyll cel­e­brates en­gage­ment to the tit­u­lar Miss Os­bourne, his al­ter ego vi­ciously mur­ders rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the estab­lish­ment like Pa­trick Magee’s grotesque Gen­eral. Their baf­fling in­abil­ity to break out of the build­ing means the film feels frus­trat­ingly claus­tro­pho­bic, and the din­ner- ta­ble dia­logue is dread­fully pre­ten­tious.

It sparks into life when Udo Kier’s Jekyll trans­forms into Gérard Zal­cberg ’s Hyde; Zal­cberg ’s cruel, an­drog­y­nous fea­tures are strik­ing, and he has great pres­ence. And the trans­for­ma­tion it­self, which in­volves much thrash­ing about in a bath, is a well- ex­e­cuted con­jur­ing trick.

A com­men­tary pieced to­gether from eight in­ter­views; fea­turettes on Bernard Parmegiani, com­poser of the avant- garde score ( 10 min­utes) and Borowczyk’s love of early cinema ( seven min­utes); in­ter­views with Udo Kier ( 11 min­utes) and Ma­rina Pierro ( 20 min­utes); a “video es­say” ( 15 min­utes); a crit­i­cal ap­pre­ci­a­tion ( 33 min­utes); two shorts, with ac­com­pa­ny­ing intro/ in­ter­view; trailer; book­let. Ian Ber­ri­man Miss Os­bourne shares her name with Stevenson’s wife, Fanny, whose cri­tique of his orig­i­nal manuscript led him to burn it.

A week later his eye­brows turned up be­hind the sofa.

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