Friday, October 7, 2011

Edge of Sanity

A doctor by the name of Henry Jekyll begins experimenting with cocaine (on his patients and himself), and accidentally invents some sort of super crack that, when he smokes it, turns him into a vicious, sex crazed madman who goes by the handle of Mr. Jack Hyde. Soon, he's off gallivanting around London murdering prostitutes. That's right, this time Jekyll/Hyde is also Jack the Ripper.

As a story, Edge of Sanity never really comes together. It's a mostly typical journey through a well-worn story, despite the attempts to add interest with the Jack the Ripper thing, and the drug themes and some transgressive sex. The story develops along predictable lines, there's not much of a build to it, and Hyde's victims are all basically cyphers so there's not much suspense either. Anthony Perkins gives a good performance in the lead role, but he's such a frail, old guy here that he never makes much of a credible physical threat.

Yet the film is still a fair amount of fun, thanks in good part to the over-the-top direction by Gerard Kikoine. It's the kind of film where characters will enter a room, and it will be entirely bathed in red or blue light for no reason except that it looks cool. Where the whores in a brothel all wear elaborate costumes, and perform bizarre sex acts that involve reenacting the crucifixion. Where madness is signaled not through subtle lighting changes or music cues, but through the camera violently spinning around or zooming into an extreme close up while the score cranks up to 11. If you have a taste for this kind of overwrought nonsense, as I do, then Edge of Sanity is a good way to kill 90 minutes. It's a real, if slight, treat for the eyes and ears, a horror movie with few interesting ideas but tons of style to burn.

Grade: B-

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