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  Edge of Sanity The Doctor Is Out - Of His Mind
Year: 1989
Director: Gérard Kikoïne
Stars: Anthony Perkins, Glynis Barber, Sarah Maur Thorp, David Lodge, Ben Cole, Ray Jewers, Jill Melford, Lisa Davis, Noel Coleman, Briony McRoberts, Mark Elliot, Harry Landis, Jill Pearson, Basil Hoskins, Ruth Burnett, Carolyn Cortez, Cathy Murphy, Claudia Uzy
Genre: Horror, HistoricalBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: A little boy is on the first floor of a barn at night, spying on a woman undressing. She is welcoming her lover, and as they begin to do what comes naturally, the boys grows more and more fascinated but trying to catch a better look he slips and ends up hanging from a rope. Interrupted, the man spanks him as the woman looks on and laughs, when suddenly there is blood dripping down her face - and then Dr Henry Jekyll (Anthony Perkins) awakens. It was only a nightmare - or was it a memory? - but it represents the kind of repression Jekyll is suffering, and which could be relieved by his medical experiments...

Edge of Sanity was part of powerhouse producer of low rent entertainment Harry Alan Towers' many projects, which were often variations on classic stories. As one of his horror movies, here he had opted to combine two venerable chiller tales into one smooth conglomeration, or that was the idea at any rate, and in truth this mixture of Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with the actual Jack the Ripper case was not a bad idea. This was kind of Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde without the sex change plotwise, but as for style it looked like a gory version of a T.V. movie.

What this film secured its reputation on was the star performance, and if you believe some commentators Perkins was ludicrously over the top when he transforms into Jekyll's evil alter ego. Yet he wasn't really, there was no yelling and eye rolling and he kept the tone more knowing, even slightly arch instead of tearing the scenery apart with his bare hands. Still, it was amusing to see the old pro play the villain even in reduced circumstances such as these, although the red eyeliner and sickly complexion the makeup artist gave him did the actor no favours.

In this telling, Jekyll becomes Hyde more by accident than design thanks to a cheeky monkey in his laboratory. Said simian knocks over a bottle which spills onto an anaesthetic Jekyll was developing and the fumes cause an unexpected (i.e. all too expected) reaction in him when he happens to inhale it. The scriptwriters decided on a drug addiction theme to this variation, so the doctor becomes addicted to inhaling the fumes, even with his own crack pipe of potion to carry around and breathe in when he needs his next fix, again, not a bad idea.

However, Perkins was patently cast for his previous performance in Crimes of Passion, another extreme thriller featuring prostitutes and there's a definite Ken Russell of the eighties style that director Gérard Kikoïne appears to be reaching for. Sadly, it's all too studied in its attempts to shock, and the elements employed to conjure a sense of delirium are too contrived and in some cases daft. For instance, when Jekyll's wife Elisabeth (Glynis Barber), who in contrast is doing charity work to assist prostitutes, sets off a hallucination in her husband, the effect is unimpressive due to the reliance on closeups of laughing faces and actresses parading around in nineteen-eighties underwear: you don't buy it. Even if he isn't as hyper here as some would say, Perkins was always welcome, and his fans will want to see one of his final starring roles. Lush music by Frédéric Talgorn.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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