Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has been adapted for various media dozens of times. The poor Doctor seems a little stale after seeing him do the same old thing ad nauseum, but there are a few examples of a refreshing take on this all too familiar story. Hammer's 1971 film Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde starring lead Hammer vixen Martine Beswicke and the eccentric gentleman Ralph Bates definitely falls into that category. The film was Hammer's second adaptation of the story after their 1960 film The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll with Dawn Addams (The Vampire Lovers) and famous co-star Christopher Lee.

The late 60's saw audiences demanding more for their movies with the release of artfully crafted horror films like Rosemary's Baby. Hammer started to fall off the radar, so to keep up with the Joneses they amped up the nudity and violence in their films to compete. As European censors started to loosen their grip in the early 70's, companies like Hammer took advantage of this freedom in order to stay afloat (or just because). In the midst of flimsy nightgowns and lesbian vampire sex, Hammer released a thoughtful gender bending flick that feels more contemporary than most of their repertoire, despite its historical backdrop. In the vein of Ingrid Pitt, Martine Beswicke delivers a self-assured and sexy performance as the dominant and animalistic half to Dr. Jekyll's personality.
categories Features, Reviews, Horror