Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde Blu-ray Review
Jill the Ripper
Hammer Studios' Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde puts a new twist on the horror icons.Hammer's third adaptation on the classic source story of Dr Jekyll & Mister Hyde takes a very different direction, not just in the sex of Hyde, but actually in its blending of Jack the Ripper and Burke & Hare into the story. Jekyll's scientist is desperate to cure disease but, worried he may not live to see his work come to fruition, he decides to find eternal youth first, discovering that the key lies in the hormones of young women, and thus making what he sees as the ultimate sacrifice in the name of the greater good. An unforeseen side-effect of the elixir he fashions from his murder spree is that it not only makes you younger, but also changes your sex.This 1971 addition to the Hammer banner makes the most of its folding in of real-life historical cases, and tries its best to give Jekyll a plausible backstory, notwithstanding the somewhat ludicrous transformation. On the plus side, it leads to star Ralph Bates turning into the more comely two-time Bond girl (From Russia with Love and Thunderball) Martine Beswick who took the role when future Bond girl and former Hammer regular, The Spy Who Loved Me's Caroline Munro, refused to commit to the film's nudity. Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde doesn't reinvent the genre, or even Hammer's staple style, but it does put a different spin on the classic tale.
Picture QualityStudiocanal's Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release of Hammer Studios' Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde delivers the film with a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66:1 widescreen. Considering the period shooting style and vintage - pushing 50 - the film looks better than ever, but it's often not a particularly pretty picture.
The film looks better than ever, despite source limitations
Detail is at its best on interiors, which are mostly well-lit and bring forth fine textures on close-ups, hair and background nuances, allowing the period environment to be showcased often quite impressively. The colour scheme has some rich tones, deep woods and vibrant reds on the dresses. It's when we step outside that things tend to fall apart, mostly due to the shooting style, which drowns the piece in murky misty smoky haze in order to perhaps make the sets and setting better convince in its period garb, and perhaps because it's what we expect from that era. Either way, it doesn't make it easy for details to break through, affording a frequently soft image that's far from noteworthy. Black levels are also pretty unexceptional, but notwithstanding these criticisms, it should be remembered that this is still a faithful presentation foiled only by the style of the production.
Sound QualityA faithful representation of the material
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track does a solid enough job with the aural elements, delivering the dialogue with precision and clarity, largely dominating the frontal array where necessary, whilst the nominal atmospheric effects – which bring the cobbled streets to life as best they can, bustling inns and percolating chemicals – find coverage across a slightly broader spectrum, and the score, which does its best to remain at bay until required to heighten the tension and horror, remains at bay. It's not particularly demo in any respect, but it is also a faithful representation of the material.
ExtrasWe get a short Featurette and a Trailer
Blu-ray VerdictIt doesn't reinvent the genre, or even Hammer's staple style, but it does put a different spin on the classic tale
Studiocanal's Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release of Hammer Studios' Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde affords the 1971 horror decent video and audio - at least within the limitations of the film's style - as well as a single Featurette and Trailer in the way of extras. Fans will enjoy rediscovering this title.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £12.99
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