Dr. Henry Jekyll is trying to find a way to separate the good portions of the personality from the bad and in the process becomes the evil, murderous Mr. Edward Hyde.
I really don’t understand the enthusiasm for a movie like this. With a minuscule budget of $55,000, Andre Champagne and Alan Bernhoft put together a musical based around the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. The story begins in what looks like the time period of the original (late 1800s) with the house, furnishings and even the clothing reminiscent of the original story. However, once Henry Jekyll transforms into Mr. Hyde and sets out to commit his first murder, we see it is present day. The cars and storefronts are a shock to see and that is what you should expect from the entire production.
It is clearly obvious the production crew were attempting to create a cult styled hit in the manner of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. What results is an incoherent film that never reaches the level of that iconic film. The problems are numerous, including horrible acting and bad songs. The filmmakers tried to add psychedelic visual effects during many musical numbers, and I understand they were added for the schizophrenic feel they deemed necessary. It only succeeded in looking cheap and old.
The cover of the DVD advertises an award-winning score (B-Movie Film Festival, New York), award-winning cinematography (B-Movie Film Festival, New York), and an award for best picture (Fantastic Films International Film Festival, England). If you really like bad cuts, close-ups of people’s eyes, and poorly orchestrated action sequences, you will love the cinematography. The score is fine, I suppose, but the aforementioned film festivals aren’t that picky when choosing their winners.
While the score is fine, the songs are just plain bad. My original thought was the bad acting was due to the producers choosing people with good singing voices. However, every song is performed by poor lip-synching. There are moments throughout where the mouths do not match up to the words. The sound also changes poorly from the dialogue scenes to the music scenes. I could overlook all that, due to the low budget of the film, but the lack of quality in the music, mixed with the poor acting dooms the movie.
The film was obviously a work of love for the filmmakers and I can understand their enthusiasm for making something as full of cheese as this film. However, when compared to other films in the genre, it just never seems to hit it home. Coming out around the same time of horror musical Sweeney Todd, the movie looks even worse. The filmmakers knew they had a large hurdle to overcome, as on their web site they mention the budgets of similar movies (The Producers: $45 million, Sweeney Todd: $50 million, Hairspray: $75 million) and then list their budget at $55,000 proudly. I can appreciate that, I really can.
What I can’t appreciate is the complete package of this film. I did not find it funny, not even in a tongue-in-cheek way. I did not find any of the songs catchy and to listen to them a second time was just torture. The acting was poor, bordering on overacting and while that could work in a film destined for cult status, it fails to entertain here. The script was haphazard and a jumbled mess. There was a woman that Jekyll loved and proposed to at the beginning of the movie. We see her later singing about her love for him, but the two never share another scene in the movie. These are all problems that haunted the film from the beginning. There is nothing about this movie to recommend and I doubt it will even gain a small cult following, much less one the size of its predecessors.
There is an audio commentary track with director Andre Champagne, writer/actor Alan Bernhoft, and writer/director Bob Ricucci. The three compare the film to Hitchcock, which should tell you all you need to know about the track. The guys absolutely love what they accomplished here. It was called “bitching” by one of the guys and they were in love with the arty look of the film.
A one-hour interview with Hal Blaine is included on the DVD. Blaine served as the music consultant and spoke of all the people he had worked with over his long career. It’s nice tribute to a man who has played on more hit albums than almost any other drummer, working with artists such as the Beach Boys, Elvis Pressley, Simon & Garfunkel and John Denver. It’s a nice addition that adds value to the DVD.
There is a behind the scenes feature that is simply still photos with two songs from the film playing over them. A making is also included showing the creation of scenes including nice footage of the choreographer setting up shots. There is a feature over the awards the film won as well as the original promo trailer short. The official trailer for the film rounds out the extras.