Edge of Sanity

02/15/2020 13:38

Film: Edge of Sanity

Year: 1989

Director: Gérard Kikoïne

Writer: J.P. Félix and Ron Raley

Starring: Anthony Perkins, Glynis Barber and Sarah Maur Thorp



This was a movie that I acquired a long time ago, like right around the time I just got out of college and was seeking out the different adaptations of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I’ve probably owned this movie for a full decade or so before finally checking it out and came in pretty blind aside from where it was borrowing the elements from. I was shocked to see that Anthony Perkins also starred here. The synopsis is when Henry Jekyll’s (Perkins) experiments have gotten out of control, he transforms into the hideous Jack Hyde (Perkins). As Hyde searches the London streets at night, he allows his wildest fantasies to play out.

Now I will admit, I altered the synopsis a bit as it seems to go pretty spoiler heavy. This starts off with a boy who is in the loft of a barn. He is crawling to where he sees a laughing woman, Susannah (Sarah Maur Thorp). She notices that he can see her and exposes her breasts as well as her undergarments. A man comes in to have sex with her and she continues to look at the boy. He gets a bit too close to the edge and falls. The man must be his father and he’s punished while the woman continues to laugh.

We learn this is a nightmare that Dr. Jekyll has, indicating he was the boy. In bed with him is his wife Elisabeth (Glynis Barber). Dr. Jekyll doesn’t seem to sleep much, I’m assuming from the dreams and focusing on his experiments. Within the first few minutes we see that he uses cocaine to help him focus. This seems to be more Victorian times, so it isn’t illegal yet and people don’t really know a lot about it.

Dr. Jekyll is also a teacher and is going to Vienna soon for a major conference. He has adapted cocaine to use as an aesthesia which he uses during a procedure on an eyeball. He conducts more experiments at home with a monkey. It gets agitated from the drugs it is fed and knocks over a beaker of chemicals that fall into a bowl of cocaine. It creates this smoke that Dr. Jekyll inhales. A change comes over him.

He goes out into the night, where he uses what I’m assuming is either opium or an early form of crack. He is smoking this and goes home with a prostitute. He has some deviant fantasies by society standards, but he ends it with brutally murdering her with a scalpel. This is how Jack ‘The Ripper’ is born and it is through the name he gives to himself during this change, Jack Hyde.

Elisabeth is worried about her husband and the changes that have come over his personality. Each night Dr. Jekyll uses his experiments to become Jack Hyde and he is becoming dangerously close to losing himself.

Now I have to lead off stating that this is an interesting take on the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story. I’ll admit, I’ve probably seen 5 or at the time of writing this, but I think much like the Dracula and Frankenstein adaptations, you really need to do your own take to keep this fresh which this one does have some of that. Not everything they try is new, but at least they do some things.

The first thing that I like here is taking a look at addiction. Dr. Jekyll is doing experiments on cocaine and then ends up taking too much by accident. This changes him into Jack Hyde who acts out on his fantasies without repercussion or worry. I think this is an interesting look on those that commit crimes or just do bad things while they’re high. It makes sense this comes out in the late 80’s were we are seeing this in society for sure. He really can’t control himself and then gets to the point where it’s taking over his life. He also has mood swings and does what he can at times to try to stop himself, but much like this original story, he can feel it consuming him.

Going from there, we also have something that I first noticed in Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde. This film changed the name of Hyde from Edward to Jack as he is one committing the crimes of Jack the Ripper. This I have to give slightly less credit to, as it was intriguing idea that in the previous film it was a woman committing them. Here we have the strung out Mr. Hyde. Regardless, I like this being made into a crossover to deepen the story, especially since it is believed Jack the Ripper was a doctor due to the precise nature of the attacks.

Despite the film only running 85 minutes, I did feel that there was a slight pacing issue. I was surprised when I looked it up that it was under an hour and half as it does feel longer. I don’t want to say that I got bored, as that is not the case. It does keep my attention, but it does drag a bit early in the third act. I’m thinking that by making this an addiction could be making this slightly problematic as we don’t really get Dr. Jekyll being faced with his own mortality like we do in the story. Here he’s embracing and enjoys it. The only time he really shows remorse is when he’s faced with his wife wanting to leave him, which I think is a bit pragmatic for this era. I could be wrong there, but I don’t believe women got divorces during this time period. I will say though I love the bleakness of the ending here and where they took it.

Something that I’m surprised to say here is that I did have problems with the acting. This role for Perkins isn’t that much different from him in Psycho or its sequel, as those are the only two I’ve seen. He’s older and I love the duality of his character, as well as his fall from grace as he gives himself over to addiction. My problem is that we’re in Victoria England and his accent didn’t work for me. I don’t buy him as someone from that era and country. Barber is solid as his wife. I like that he’s torn between her and Thorp, the prostitute that has haunted him as a child. It is really a good vs. evil there and the idea of temptation as well as letting go. The rest of the cast I thought was fine in rounding this out, but no one really stood out.

I did also a slight issue with the effects. I thought the blood we got looked good. There’s a throat slight that the practical effect used looks fine, but I could tell it was not really a wound on the prostitute’s neck. Plus there was no blood coming from it, where a wound like that would be bleeding a lot. Seeing the aftereffects of an attack was good and fit to pretty much what I’ve heard about in regards to the actual Jack the Ripper kills. I like the different looks we get from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. The last thing would be that the cinematography is fine as I felt the movie was shot pretty well.

Now with that said, I thought this is an interesting take on this story. I don’t mind the changes made as there are so many adaptations out there, you really have to do something different. Making the change more akin to addiction I thought was good as well as seeing Dr. Jekyll give himself over to it. I thought the difference in look from Jekyll to Hyde was distinct enough and the performance there was good. I did have some slight issue with some of the effects as well as I don’t buy Perkins being from this era. The rest of acting was fine, especially Barber and Thorp. I did lose slight interest later in this movie, but I will say the ending pulled me back in. The soundtrack really didn’t stand out. I had no issues with it. Overall I would say this is above average.


My Rating: 7 out of 10