The journey begins...Movie #1, Disc #1, 5-disc set "50 Greatest Horror Films." That remains to be seen.
John S. Robertson directs this must-see gem. In order for Barrymore to keep his commitments performing on Broadway at the time, most of the filming was at the Amsterdam Opera House in Manhattan, but you are transported to Soho, in the bowels of London. The story begins with the words....
"In each of us,, two natures are at war--the good and the evil. All our lives the fight goes on between them and one of them must conquer. But in our hands lies the power to choose--what we want most to be we are."
Fortunately for me, but not for Jekyll, the good loses.
One drink of the potion and wah lah Hyde enters the picture. Complete with cone head, long straggly hair, elongated fingers with grimy overgrown fingernails, stoop, contorted features and all. His transformation is truly amazing. He's a total spaz. Regan rises from her bed with the help of special effects, but Barrymore takes air and falls flat, flat on his back. No wires, no stunt man. It's awesome.
Once back in full Jekyll form, he gives Hyde full license of his home and lab via his servant, Poole (George Stevens). He rents a dingy room in Soho, revisits the Hall and buys Miss Gina, and holds her there to do with what he wants. He soon tires of her and kicks her out on the street, keeping her ring, but we see her again when he visits a local opium den to get a new victim to keep him company. After checking out the offerings, he settles on a girl that resembles his beloved Millicent. It is left to the imagination what he does with her.
Meanwhile back at the Carew household, Millicent is getting worried about Jekyll's absence and asks her father to seek him out. He finds him, and although Hyde has had quite a time, Jekyll hates what he's become and blames Carew. He makes visits Millicent at the request of Utterson (J. Malcom Dunn), who truly loves Millicent but was rejected by her due to her love of Jekyll, however he is strung out and distracted, feeling overwhelming wretched and remorseful and thus leaves. He's running out of the drug though, and in a bit of film magic, while Jekyll is sleeping, he is visited by a phantom spider from hell who turns him into Hyde with no drug at all. He's lost control of himself and the drug.
The obvious irony....what he thought might help him strengthen his character, according to Carew, weakened it to nonexistence.
A masterpiece. Five out of five flames, and so far, the title of the 50 greatest horror films ever filmed on this 5 disc CD set I purchased holds true. 49 more to go. Until next time, keep those fires burning.