Breathtaking Blu-ray resuscitates an oft-overlooked take on the classic tale of terror
What should have been a joyous event celebrating the engagement of Dr. Henry Jekyll (Udo Kier) and Miss Fanny Osbourne (Marina Pierro) is transformed into a deadly orgy of sex and violence when a depraved maniac starts assaulting the guests.
Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novella Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has been adapted for the screen over 100 times now, but only a few of them linger in the mind the way this film does. While far from being a straight adaptation of the original story, Walerian Borowczyk's 1981 art-sploitation masterpiece (aka Docteur Jekyll et les femmes and Blood of Dr. Jekyll) does a better job than most of exploring the duality of the central character, pulling no punches as Hyde assaults the repressive strictures of society in the most brutal ways imaginable.
Picture: Following hot on the heels of last year's celebrated Camera Obscura Blu-ray boxset, this hi-def release sees Arrow giving the deluxe treatment to yet another Walerian Borowczyk film. Restored using a new 2K scan of the original camera negative, with colour grading overseen by director of photography Noël Véry, the platter's AVC-encoded 1.66:1 1080p encode is gorgeous, replicating the film's purposefully diffuse and dreamlike visuals while retaining an impeccable delicacy to fine details.
Picture rating: 5/5
Audio: The excellent quality of the Blu-ray's French and English LPCM mono soundtracks is down to the work put into clean up and restoration. These mixes may not be reference-quality but still hold up well – particularly when it comes to the movie's striking score.
Audio rating: 3.5/5
Extras: This remarkable Blu-ray comes loaded with a brain-boggling array of extras. There's far too much to go into in detail here, but among the goodies on offer are an audio commentary assembled from a 1981 interview with the director and newly recorded interviews with other members of the film's crew; a rediscovered Borowczyk short from 1979; video essays about the film, the filmmaker and avant-garde composer Bernard Parmegiani; new interviews with Kier and Pierro; the trailer (with three audio options); and a superb 40-page booklet.
Extras rating: 5/5
We say: A truly sin-sational hi-def debut for Borowczyk's hypnotic mix of art and horror
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne, Arrow Academy, Region A/B BD & R1/2 DVD,
HCC VERDICT: 4.5/5
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