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  I, Monster Stevenson's Doesn't Rock ItBuy this film here.
Year: 1971
Director: Stephen Weeks
Stars: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Mike Raven, Richard Hurndall, George Merritt, Kenneth J. Warren, Susan Jamieson, Marjie Lawrence, Aimée Delamain, Michael Des Barres, Chloe Franks, Lesley Judd
Genre: Horror
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Doctor Marlowe (Christopher Lee) is investigating the mechanisms of the mind, and believes if he can separate one aspect from the other through use of chemicals, this will be a great therapy for his patients who suffer from mental health difficulties. At the gentlemen’s club he attends, his friends are discussing the theories and practices of Sigmund Freud, and are of differing opinions as regards the overall help they will be, this idea that there is a subconscious and a conscious mind, and if one is at war with the other then turmoil will result. Does this mean each of us is capable of terrible deeds should the mood take us? Surely not – and nobody as respectable as Marlowe would be victim to that!

As the credits informed us, this was yet another adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic horror novel Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and once again as with more or less every version the fact that the doctor and the villain were one and the same was so well known there was no point in keeping the book’s final revelation to that end, since nobody in the audience would be in the least bit surprised. Therefore with this production from Amicus, penned as often by their co-producer Milton Subotsky, we were well aware straight away that Blake was up to no scientific good, though initially he believed he was, it was just that we could tell he was heading over a moral precipice when he had to kill his cat.

And that was before he even injected himself with the serum, he injected the moggy instead, purely out of academic interest as far as we could tell, only to witness it go nuts around the laboratory and force him to dispatch it with the poker for the fireplace. For some reason, he doesn’t allow this setback to affect his ambitions, and has soon injected two patients with it, one a repressed lady (Susan Jamieson) who proceeds to seduce him while under the influence, the other an aggressive man who reverts to a childlike, terrified state. Thus energised by his findings, we were well on the way to drug addict allegory, which was about all that Subotsky brought to the table that was new in the overfamiliar tale.

Quite why he chose to rename the “two” central characters yet keep the names of Utterson (Peter Cushing) and Lanyon (Richard Hurndall) from the source was a mystery, as aside from distancing the effort from all those other Jekylls and Hydes, it merely served to make you note the similarities between them. Mike Raven also showed up, a disc jockey who was trying to establish himself as a fright flick star, something he conspicuously failed to do since it was clear he was no actor, and his lisping tones were not exactly Boris Karloff, they weren’t even Bobby Pickett. Nevertheless, Raven and Cushing teamed up to find out who this Mr Blake was who appeared to be blackmailing Marlowe, then eventually become a target for the evil alter-ego themselves.

The film was supposed to be a 3-D experience, and you still can enjoy that by using special glasses, but they were not called for on the movie’s actual release, leaving photography that distractingly keeps moving about in a restless fashion to generate the extra dimension in imagery. 22-year-old Stephen Weeks was the director, who in spite of many valiant attempts never really established himself as a genre fixture, probably because the British film industry was not exactly healthy when he was setting out. He managed a not bad atmosphere of downbeat decadence, but that was about it, and Lee, notching up another of his monster roles, lacked the chances in the material to provide a performance that was anything but dutiful to the text, yet uninspired cinematically. That was the main drawback, we’d seen it all before and nothing here justified going back to the old story without doing anything more inspired with it. Take note of its contemporary Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde for that. Music by Carl Davis.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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