Another foggy evening. The street-traders are hawking the last of the jellied eels and sundry traditional East End wares. In the tavern, buxom barmaids trade cheerful banter with the punters while a ditzy cockney incessantly trills some tale of woe called He'll Be There like she's understudying Shani Wallis in Oliver!. And who are those gorgeous young gals, so rude of health and decked out in the finest fabrics this side of Gay Paree? Oh, they're the streetwalkers.
Yes, it can only be Whitechapel, 1888, and Ralph is hard at work on a serum that will cure every disease known to man ... until his friend, Professor Robertson, an amiable old hedonist given to molesting chorus girls, advises that this will like as not take considerably longer than just the one lifetime to achieve. Ralph concedes the point and grumpily settles on a less ambitious project: he's going to discover the elixir of life.
It takes him a lot less time than you might imagine, but then he has modern science at his disposal as opposed to black magic mumbo jumbo and he understands what will be required: "Hormones" Female Hormones!", fresh from the corpses of young women!
So it's off to the local mortuary to do business with the ghoulish attendant and, when this worthy can no longer meet his insatiable demands, a rendezvous with Burke and Hare who are still operating sixty years after the Edinburgh trials which saw Burke publicly dissected. He's looking well on it. These ruffians don't disappoint, they even murder the girl from the tavern to keep Ralph supplied until - disaster! Burke is lynched by a mob and Hare is thrown in a lime pit - necessitating a new career as a blind busker - so now Ralph will just have to get his lovely dead bodies some other way.
It's at this point in the proceedings that he drinks his work in progress for the first time and the results are spectacular: he turns into the deuced attractive Martine Beswick and does a little striptease of joy. The best of it is, Ms. Hyde is partial to slicing up prostitutes! Oh, has she come to the right place!
Complications. Professor Robertson takes a break in his busy gallivanting schedule for long enough to grow suspicious that the Whitechapel Murderer and Ralph are one and the same entity. Also, upstairs neighbour Susan has fallen for the noble doctor and has taken to stalking him at all hours of the day and night, banging on his door until he's forced to take a meal from her and banging on it again until he gives her the tray back, ad nauseum. That's not the worst of it. Now the transformations occur with increasingly regularity and it's quite apparent that Mrs. Hyde isn't up for being an equal partner. She's also bent on seducing Susan's brother, Howard, who gives every indication that he wouldn't say no. Ralph goes off in a huff and stabs a tart in a terrific corset (Virginia Wetherell, the real life future Mrs. Bates who he first met during the filming), but his alter-ego easily betters him and her crimes give rise to the legend of Jack the Ripper.
Now she has set her sights on murdering the virginal Susan, convinced that this will rid her of Ralph for all time. Can he stop her?
Great costumes, terrific score, outrageous plot and cockneys, bloody mockneys. What else could you possibly want?
Director - Roy Ward Baker
Writing credits - Brian Clemens * Robert Louis Stevenson (novel)
Cast Main Players
Ralph Bates - Dr. Jekyll * Martine Beswick - Sister Hyde * Gerald Sim - Professor Robertson * Susan Broderick - Susan Spencer * Lewis Fiander - Howard Spencer * Dorothy Alison- Mrs. Spencer * Ivor Dean - Burke * Tony Calvin - Hare * Philip Madoc - Byker
Forces Of Law And Order
Paul Whitsun-Jones - Sergeant Danvers * Neil Wilson - Older Policeman * Geoffrey Kenion - 1st Policeman
The Good People Of Whitechapel (Streetwalkers, drunkards, people trying to sell you "luvverly 'ot potatoes", etc)
Dan Meaden - Town Crier ("Hear this, Hear this! Good people of Whitechapel. Hear this! A murder! A 'orrible grisly murder!") * Virginia Wetherell - Betsy * Irene Bradshaw - Yvonne * Anna Brett - Julie * Jackie Poole - Margie Rosemary Lord - Marie * Petula Portell - Petra * Pat Brackenbury - Helen * Liz Romanoff - Emma * Will Stampe - Pub Landlord * Roy Evans - Knife Grinder * Derek Steen - 1st Sailor * John Lyons - 2nd Sailor * Jeannette Wild - Jill * Bobby Parr - Young Apprentice * Julia Wright - Street Singer
Absolutely superb film, Ralph Bates' finest hour (forget DEAR JOHN...).
So much dark humour (as well as sub-CARRY ON laughs; cf. "I've not been feeling myself" etc.) and of course the ludicrous but surprisingly successful combination of the Burke and Hare legend, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Jack the Ripper.
Finally! At long last a forum that recognises the greatness of Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde, possibly my all-time favourite Hammer. I generally have a love of all things Hammer, but this is something a little bit special, I feel - and not least for seeing Martine Beswick feeling herself up in the mirror, though that helps! The whole thing just seems to gel and work incredibly well. It's a shame that Brian Clemens got on board the Hammer train as the studio was gradually slipping into decline, as I think he might have brought us many more interesting works. Nevertheless, we're still left with gems like this - and the likeness between Beswick and Bates is uncanny, Hammer couldn't have got that pairing more right.
"Artwork: Gloomy Sundae (Warhol period) Ralph Bates is Great!
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
Post by allthingshorror on Mar 17, 2008 8:23:59 GMT
I LOVE this film. I met martine last year at the Hammer Horror 50th Anniversary celebrations and managed to get an interview with her - I'll post it on my website later - but she also signed my Italian Sister Hyde daybill - it was the first time she had seen one, which was pretty cool. Here are a few pics.