The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Miss Osbourne, 1981.
Directed by Walerian Borowczyk.
Starring Udo Kier, Marina Pierro, Patrick Magee, Gérard Zalcberg, Howard Vernon and Clément Harari
An engagement party for the brilliant young Dr. Jekyll and Miss Fanny Osbourne descends into terror when dinner guests start turning up brutally murdered inside and outside the house…
Offering a visually stunning and fantastically creepy adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson tale, Borowczyk’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Miss Osbourne, provides a deeply unsettling experience. The dual format Blu-ray and DVD release captures the stark beauty of the nightmarish romanticism on show, with a host of features and interpretations of the film available for otherworldly excursions into artistic horror theory.
Borowczyk’s only out-and-out horror film plays pretty fast and loose with the source material’s subject matter, with the focus being firmly on feeling and texture rather than plot and story. It goes so far with this, that every scene can almost be viewed separately, and the dialogue – whether in French or English – acts more as an effects soundtrack rather than an essential.
The two leads Udo Kier and Marina Pierro both offer compelling glimpses into a world of suppressed desires while the Hyde of the piece, portrayed monstrously by Zalcberg, is essentially the unleashed bestial urges of humanity. In short, it is a film that goes beyond words, and one perfectly suited to the illustrative wit and wisdom of the creator’s passions.
This new Arrow release makes the most of a vast collection of features and acts as a beautiful introduction to – or reminder of – Borowczyk’s creativity and ability to produce a fantastically provocative onslaught of visual immersion.
The disc also features Himorogi (2012), a short film by Marina and Alessio Pierro, made in homage to Borowczyk, alongside interviews with the filmmakers and a video essay by Adrian Martin and Cristina Alvarez Lopez.
Alongside this, the release also includes Eyes That Listen, a featurette on Borowczyk’s collaborations with electro-acoustic composer Bernard Parmegiani and Happy Toy (1979), a short film by the artist based on Charles-Émile Reynaud’s praxinoscope. An introduction to Happy Toy by production assistant Sarah Mallinson is also included.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert W Monk is a freelance journalist and film writer.