Friday, 3 April 2015

DAUGHTER OF DR JEKYLL















d. Edgar G. Ulmer (1957)


As you might expect from the title, this is a silly sort of film, albeit one that seems to wilfully muddle horror mythology simply for the sake of it. It's also a film that is occasionally hard to watch, as the interiors and exteriors are so unevenly matched in terms of quality and visibility that they might as well be from completely different productions.

When a young woman turns 21, she inherits a large country estate and the truth about her lineage: she is the daughter of the notorious Dr. Henry Jekyll. Despite the fact that she was born several years before he started the experiments that would transform him into Mr. Hyde, she is frightened that his 'condition' might be hereditary, concerns that her guardian is rather poor at assuaging: 'Well, there's absolutely no proof that it is - and absolutely no proof that it isn't'. The condition in question, by the way, is Lycanthropy. Yes, sod Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll was, it seems, a werewolf. Don't worry, though, the local villagers know what to do to stop a 'blood sucking' werewolf. That's right, you bang a stake through its heart*. 

Despite being under sedation and locked in her room, every night Ms. Jekyll has feverish dreams of herself as a saturnine, feral figure, emerging from the family crypt to kill. When she wakes up she is in her own bed, but covered in blood and mud to find that, invariably, another female servant has been murdered on her way back home to the village. 

The set up of these murders is less than meticulous, and it is soon apparent that it is physically impossible for Ms. Jekyll to have committed them. All we're seemingly left with is the prospect of a Scooby Doo big reveal type ending - which, happily, doesn't quite happen, as there is one more left handed twist of the cinematic pepper pot which, along with a superbly eerie theremin score,  just about redeems the whole thing.

Staking werewolves, though? Come on.  

* As a lifelong horror enthusiast, this actually hurt my feelings.

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