Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971)

Ah, that small but big-hearted genre we all know and love - Gender Bender Horror.

Okay, it's maybe not so much a genre as it is one movie. I can't think of another horror film who's storyline involves it's main character transforming from one sex into another.

Sure, there are a few cross-dressing movie villains out there, and the odd fellow who slaughters women so he can dress up in their skins (gross). But full on sexual transmutation?

I don't think so. (There WAS a cheese-filled comedy in '95 called Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde, but I'm talkin' HORROR here. Nuff said.)

Or... is it? If your memory/Google skills are better than mine and you can come up with another film or two that might fit into Gender Bender Horror, drop a line and I'll happily update my opinion AND (bonus) this post.

Anyway. Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde was done in 1971 by the Amazing, Fantastic, Retro-flick-alicious HAMMER FILMS. When I first saw the title I assumed it was an exploitation flick, but Hammer generally plays their horror pretty straight, so I was intrigued. And they did play it totally straight.

Which is what makes the film so fun. They play it just like Robert Louis Stevenson wrote it: Jekyll is earnest, Hyde is monstrous, and their downfall is tragic. Not a cheese-filled scene anywhere.

With maybe the exception of Hyde, upon finding herself a woman, fondling her own breasts for a minute or two. But what man among us wouldn't do the same, if placed in a similar situation? (If you DENY, you also LIE.)

The story is... well, we know the story 'cause it's - THE story: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. We've seen it done a million times - with varying levels of faithfulness to Stevenson's novella. Let's see, according to the infallable Wikipedia, we've had:

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1910, 1912, 1920, 1920 again, 1920 a third time, 1931, 1941, 1973, 1981, 1985, 1989, 2002, 2008)
The Testament of Dr. Cordelier (1959)
The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960)
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968)
I, Monster (1971)
Dr. Jekyll y el Hombre Lobo (1972)
Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype (1980)
Edge Of Sanity (1989)
Jekyll & Hyde (1990, 1997)
Mary Reilly (1996)
Jekyll + Hyde (2006)
Jekyll (2007)

And that's just the more or less straight-on horror films.

Anyway. It's a good watch and an interesting take on the story. Competently produced, well acted and (a bit surprisingly) focused on the horror of the tale rather than on female nudity. You should see it.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jennifer's Body (2009)

Just got back from seeing the movie "Jennifer's Body" at the ol' Megaplex.





I mean F. U. N. N. Y.

It's a keeper for sure.

Here's the story:
Small town cheerleader Jennifer (and all that implies) is dead. She just doesn't know it yet. In fact, the only thing keeping her going is the demon hiding out inside her body. She doesn't know about that, either, she just knows that she gets so hungry these days....

It seems some of the local boys are having their bones gnawed upon (and not in a sexy cheerleader way). Needy has a growing suspicion that Jennifer could be behind the drop in teen male population. Her suspicion grows a lot, really fast, when she nearly hits a just-finished-dining Jennifer with her car during a late night drive. Then Jennifer starts showing an interest in Needy's boyfriend.

Ooh. Did you hear that noise? Sounded like a showdown....

The movie's written by Diablo Cody and is filled right to the brim with snappy exchanges and hilarious one liners. Now, Cody also wrote the Oscar winning Juno (also filled right to the brim with snappy exchanges and hilarious one liners), and some fans are unfavorably comparing Jennifer's Body to Juno.

Um. Folks, Juno was a well written comedic drama dealing with teen pregnancy and other socially relevant material. Jennifer's Body is a well written schlock horror film dealing with a cheerleader eating her peers. Not really the same thing.

High School Evil Jennifer

Actually Evil Jennifer
The two leads are played by Megan Fox (Jennifer) and Amanda Seyfried (Needy). Technically, Needy is the secondary role, but Ms. Seyfried played her up so well I'm afraid she sort of stole the show. Especially enjoyable was the interaction between Needy and her boyfriend Chip - including the cutest sweetest (unusual descriptors, but these fit) sex scene I've ever watched.