(Gerard Kikoine, US, 1988)
In Victorian London, Dr Jekyll is mentally transformed after taking a mysterious new drug. As the monstrous Mr Hyde, he embarks on a spree of lustful killings. Made in 1988, set in 1888, this film admirably combines the exploits of the real-life Jack the Ripper with the fictional Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Gerard Kikoine directs and Edge of Sanity becomes the perfect vehicle for Anthony (Psycho) Perkins, who when portraying Hyde as the Ripper, can show just how psychotic he can really appear to be. He is well supported by the delicious Glynis Barber as Mrs Jekyll, his doting wife, and a strong though largely unknown cast playing the various pimps, prostitutes and doctors the storyline throws up.
The various women of the night are portrayed not as the frumpy, unattractive, desperate women one would have really found in the dangerous slums of East End London over 100 years ago, but as modern, high-class hookers, an unusual but refreshing idea that works. Together with some terrific sets, good use of colour, lighting and camera angles, Kikoine makes this film an unexpected visual feast. Only once during the final, dramatic scene does the approach become over-indulgent, but most of the time it is stunning.
Gone, thank goodness, are the 'drink the smoking potion from a test tube, sink below the table, and come up looking like a werewolf' type transformations. Kikoine replaces this with a very subtle, but nevertheless effective, psychological change that turns Jekyll into Hyde/the Ripper. It used to say on the video case that "Mr Hyde begins a vivid re-enactment of his most extreme sexual fantasies" and indeed there is a superb underlying sense of eroticism lingering throughout, occasionally rising to the fore to great effect. At times, Perkins looks literally insane and if ever I ever got the chance to interview this most type-cast of actors, I would only do so at the end of an extremely long satellite link up!
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