Intoxicatingly weird ... mild spoilers ...
- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne review by NP
This is an elegant and ‘Grand Guignol’ reimagining of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella. It is gruesome, graphic, stylish, perverse and disturbing, painstakingly directed by Walerian Borowczyk to make the most of its richly gothic atmosphere.
The cast is excellent. Cult figure Udo Kier plays an unrepentant Jekyll, Jess Franco stalwart Howard Vernon is Dr. Lanyon, Patrick Magee is General Danvers Carew, Gérard Zalcberg is Hyde and Marino Pierro (who played Hélène in Jean Rollin’s ‘Living Dead Girl’) is Ms. Fanny Osbourne. Another star turn comes from Bernard Parmegiani with his raw and sinister electronic drone-like incidental score. All this and Noël Véry’s arthouse cinematography are intoxicatingly wonderful and work well together to create the unsettling ambience that saturates this production and maintains the viewer is on edge, even during the scenes in between Hyde’s sex-charged attacks.
There is, nor is there meant to be, any great sense of pace or linear storytelling. All we need to know is Hyde sweeps through a mansion full of bourgeoisie party-goers, slaying all. There’s nudity and sex and a limited amount of gore. Also there is a sense of kinky playfulness, the excesses of which I feel I might have been spared, sadly: at 90 minutes, the version I viewed is possibly ‘the cut version’ as the alternative is very hard to come by. I am not sure of this, however, as the version I watched isn’t tame in any significant way – and after all, the nightmare quality of this project is not limited to any single act, rather the overall, overwhelming sense of weirdness that falls across the entirety of ‘Dr Jekyll and Ms Osbourne’ like a shadow.
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