Nightmare Classics: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde / The Turn of the Screw (1989)

Article 2609 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-27-2008
Posting Date: 10-4-2008
Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg and Graeme Clifford
Featuring Anthony Andrews, Nicholas Guest, George Murdock, Amy Irving, David Hemmings, Micole Mercurio
Country: East Germany

Two stories are presented. In the first, a man uses drugs to bring out his evil nature. In the second, a governess encounters possessed children and ghosts.

No, it’s not a movie; by the time I realized I was dealing with two episodes of a TV show that had been grouped together on a videotape, I’d already added it to my hunt list, and (being too lazy to remove it), I decided to cover the two episodes anyway. I don’t know a whole lot about the Showtime TV series in question, but I assume it was an attempt by Shelley Duvall to follow up her “Faerie Tale Theatre” and “Tall Tales and Legends” series with one adapting famous horror stories. Given that the series has an overall rating of 3.1 on IMDB, I can only assume that it was a failure, and it appears only four episodes were made. In the case of the two I’ve seen here, I’m certainly not impressed; both stories have been somewhat sexed-up (no doubt due to their presence on a pay cable station), and THE TURN OF THE SCREW is stripped of its subtlety and ambiguity to leave us a conventional and over-melodramatic rendering of the story; we’re miles away from THE INNOCENTS here. The Jekyll and Hyde story fares somewhat better, largely thanks to the fact that Anthony Andrews comes up with a very interesting take on the character of Jekyll; I found it very interesting to find the character nervous, inhibited, shy and rather meek, as these character traits make us understand his desire to be Mr. Hyde all the more. His performance of Mr. Hyde is also quite different, but not near as satisfying; it doesn’t dovetail well with the Jekyll character, and he’s less creepy/scary than repellent/repulsive. All in all, neither story worked as a straight retelling of its source, nor is either one particularly scary; in fact, I’d call them both misfires.



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