May 25, 2011
With all the best vintage 1970s splatter films bypassing DVD and Blu-Ray altogether and heading straight to Netflix Instant Streaming, this seemed like a good feature to introduce. Netflix streaming is the new destination for these titles, many of which are heading there never to see any kind of release in the traditional formats.
Many of the titles are there in high definition – without any kind of Blu-Ray release scheduled.
First up, is this excellent 1970s Hammer gem that takes the "Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde" story and puts a gender bending twist on it. It was on DVD about a decade ago, then drifted out of print. The DVD can fetch up to $50 on eBay. Thankfully, the film is available in better-than-DVD quality on Netflix streaming.
It's one of the better films from Roy Ward Baker, who had a great year in 1972, directing this and the masterful "Asylum". Ralph Bates stars in a new version of the famous doctor, this time working on a new female hormone serum turns him into the sinister woman who calls herself Hyde, played by Bond girl Martine Beswick (from "Thunderball") who does look a lot like Bates.
Despite its Ed Wood-esque concept, the film delivers some outstanding Hammer thrills and is way better than the average Jeckyll-Hyde film. Beswick gets off on seducing men and she does look sexy draped on those old English chairs. It's an extension of the concept Hammer explored with "The Two Faces of Doctor Jeckyll," when Jeckyll became a suave, good-looking Mr. Hyde. Now Mrs. Hyde is a gorgeous, voluptuous, seductive, intoxicating and deadly female.
In addition to the gender-bending twist, it also adds a Jack the Ripper-style storyline later in the film -- and is actually one of the best films of that subgenre to have shown up in the '70s. The movie was actually PG when it came out in the U.S., but the European cut boasts more breasts and blood. Despite its fun exploitative concept, great costumes and the historic English setting, many Hammer fans also view it as a film that came out of a lesser era of the film company. But it is a solid offering from the film company, and like many a decent horror film can really be viewed as a story about insanity and addiction.
Anchor Bay put out a great looking DVD of this in the previous decade, but it has drifted out of print and there's no sign it will ever come back. That's OK, because it looks even better on Netflix streaming.
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