Archive for September 5, 2008

Love Potion #9

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on September 5, 2008 by dcairns

Walerian Borowczyk’s DOCTOR JEKYLL AND THE WOMEN, which I haven’t been able to look at this week, is nevertheless worth mentioning. Presumably pitched as an “erotic horror film”, the movie is certainly more disturbing than sexy, with an ending that plunges into outright atrocity. It’s a bold and iconoclastic take on the Stephenson story, perhaps closer to the original draft, written in a night, which Stephenson burned when his wife Fanny expressed her disapproval over its morals.

(REMARKABLE how Jekyll, Dracula and Frankensteinall had their origins in dreams. The only movies that come to mind with dream inspiration are THE LADYKILLERS and THREE WOMEN, but no doubt some of you can suggest others.)

The Borowczyk potion causes Udo Kier to mutate, in the bath (the drug is used as a bath essence) into Gérard Zalcberg, making this one of the few films where J & H aren’t played by the same actor. But they’re actually similar enough in appearance to make it seem possible, watching the film, that Hyde is still Kier in subtle makeup. The main distinguishing feature is Hyde’s foot long, bayonet-like penis.

Despite all this unpleasant sordidness and beastly horriblings, Borowzcyk shoots the film with a misty soft-focus beauty and an eye for period detail. A former animator who worked with Chris Marker and Jan Lenica and made a couple of “pure” art films before getting sidetracked into erotica, W.B. was a distinctive talent — his films are really unlike anybody else’s. Alas, he seems to have retreated from filmmaking in his last years, avoiding anybody who wanted to discuss his work.

The film benefits from its budgetary restraints, being confined to the doctor’s house, creating a sort of internal seige effect that’s very tense. What’s weird, however, is that nobody thinks of simply LEAVING THE HOUSE. After all, there’s a raving maniac on the loose, literally screwing everybody to death with his monster schlong. And there’s no practical reason why they just can’t walk out the door. It’s as if everybody has Exterminating Angel Syndrome.

Trailer (not too obscene).

And here’s a milder Borowczyk:


Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on September 5, 2008 by dcairns

So, after Jekyll Week is over, we’ll all be able to answer that popular trivia quiz question ~

Q: What do Conrad Veidt and Bernard Bresslaw have in common?

A: They both starred in film versions of the Jekyll & Hyde story which have been lost.

If you have this in your attic, call the BFI! And if you have Murnau’s DER JANUSKOPF with Veidt, alert the media! That’s one of the lost films I would gladly sacrifice one of my less important limbs to have back.

“You!” Conrad Veidt invents underplaying.

I assumed THE UGLY DUCKLING was probably no great loss, having deplored most of the Lance Comfort horror movies I’ve caught, but I recently saw TOMORROW AT TEN, a ’60s thriller in which Robert Shaw imprisons a child in a nursery with an exploding golliwog on a timer, then calmly shows up to collect the ransom in person. It was rather fine, tense and bitter and with a stunning mid-point reversal that would leave people slack-jawed if the DVD blurb didn’t give it away. So the loss of his DUCKLING may be a tragedy after all. It’s certainly an alarmingly recent film to be M.I.A.