Doctor Jekyll and Sister Hyde is a 1971 British science fiction horror feature film directed by Roy Ward Baker from a screenplay written by Brian Clemens, loosely based on the novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. The movie stars Ralph Bates, Martine Beswick and Gerald Sim.
The film is notable for showing Jekyll transforming into a female Hyde; it also incorporates aspects of the historical Jack the Ripper and Burke and Hare cases into the plot.
Professor Jekyll, an earnest scientist, obsessively works day and night haunted by the fear that one lifetime will not be enough to complete his research; sidetracked from his objective he becomes consumed with developing an immortality serum. Once convinced his findings are complete, he consumes the potion only to discover that he is to become two as he turns into half Jekyll and halfHyde.
Desperate to cover up his new identity he calls her his sister, but things take a turn for the worse when he realises that he needs female hormones if he is to maintain his existence. Before long he is battling with his alter ego Mrs Hyde, as a number of young girls begin to go missing in the streets of London…
Censorship body BBFC requested cuts to remove the inter-cutting of a murder and a rabbit gutting and to edit a bedroom murder and the stabbing of Professor Robertson. The bedroom murder was shortened though Hammer re-edited the stabbing of the doctor to comprise flash shots of earlier killings. Despite initial BBFC objections, the film was then passed with an ‘X’ certificate, and all later releases feature this same edited print.
Reviews [click links to read more]:
“Clemens’ script, adding Burke and Hare and Jack the Ripper to the sex-change gimmick, along with some ill-judged humour, results in an unmemorable, if good to look at, misfire.” Alan Frank, The Horror Film Handbook
” … takes elements of the film which began the cycle fifteen years earlier, The Curse of Frankenstein, and moulds them with the pop culture of a more liberated age to achieve one of the company’s most accomplished and enjoyable films of the decade and points towards the direction the company should have taken in order to survive.” Ten Years of Terror
“This is a great film, in need of major reappraisal. Full of in-jokes and knowing winks to the audience, it’s everything a low-budget horror should be.” British Horror Films
“Roy Ward Baker does an excellent directing job, allotting for the right amount of sensuality and violence without going overboard, keeping it a classy affair. The low budget reveals an obvious restriction of sets, but Baker is able to convey a hearty vision of 19th century London.” DVD Drive-In
“It’s good to look at, well-acted and even has one or two genuinely nightmarish moments, but essentially it remains a good-natured, if slightly unhealthy caprice […] The result plays like some demented gazetteer of English Gothic clichés, and it’s put together with such verve by director Roy Ward Baker that it’s easy to share in the enjoyment Clemens had in writing it.” Jonathan Rigby, English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema
“A film with transvestite overtones, lesbian overtones, and bi-sexual overtones that some nonetheless shrug off as if it were nothing more noticeable than a mousy British girl about to accompany you on a long, unremarkable taxi ride.” Village Voice, 1972
Doctor Jekyll and Sister Hyde was released in the USA on Blu-ray by Scream Factory on December 10, 2019. Special features:
Audio commentary with film historian Bruce G. Hallenbeck (new)
Audio commentary with director Roy Ward Baker, writer Brian Clemens, and actress Martine Beswick, moderated by Hammer Film historian Marcus Hearn
Interview with actress Martine Beswick (new)
Ladykiller: Inside Doctor Jekyll And Sister Hyde
On 13th November 2017, Studiocanal released the film in the UK on Blu-ray with a new featurette, Ladykiller: Inside Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde.
Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.co.uk
Cast and characters:
- Ralph Bates as Doctor Henry Jekyll/Jack the Ripper
- Martine Beswick as Sister Hyde
- Gerald Sim as Professor Robertson
- Lewis Fiander as Howard Spencer
- Susan Brodrick as Susan Spencer
- Dorothy Alison as Mrs Spencer
- Ivor Dean as William Burke
- Tony Calvin as William Hare
- Philip Madoc as Byker
- Paul Whitsun-Jones as Sergeant Danvers
- Virginia Wetherell as Betsy
Caroline Munro was initially offered the part of Sister Hyde but apparently refused because it required some nudity.