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Now in our seventh calendar year!
PCR #337  (Vol. 7, No. 36) This edition is for the week of September 4--10, 2006.

Labor Day Magic 2006  by Will Moriaty
"Little Miss Sunshine"  by Mike Smith
Suggestion  by Mark Terry
Congratulations, Katherine!...VHS Grindhouse - “Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde”  by Andy Lalino
Irony, Defined....Is The Head Dead Yet?...Is Her Name Pronounced Su Li?....My Favorite Films, Part 36: "Superman The Movie"  by Mike Smith
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Andy Lalino
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Congratulations, Katherine!
Way to go! Florida Senate primary election results are in, and a big, hearty hurrah to Republican Katherine Harris, the 2000 presidential election heroine, who defeated her closet opponent with a 49% take of the GOP vote (not counting hanging chads). Nolan, V. Blesi, please put differences aside and join me in hoisting Ms. Harris high above our shoulders in a victory parade! It should be a downhill battle from here taking down Mr. Nelson in November.

I voted for her because she's a dead ringer for Ruth Buzzi.

VHS Grindhouse: “Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde”
Any result to the contrary is incomprehensible; when you converge Hammer’s standard of excellence, Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic story, Ralph Bates, director Roy Ward Baker, and the incomparable Martine Beswick, you have a very solid horror film, not Hammer’s best, mind you, but a definite good spin that could easily make its way to many a horror fan’s personal favorite list.

The plot, as the title describes, concerns the infamous chemist Dr. Jekyll transforming into a female! Well, she-bitches are definitely akin to monsters. Early in the story, it’s Jekyll’s aspiration to cure mankind’s wretched diseases, but once he figures out that he only has so much time left on planet earth, he begins concocting experiments to prolong life, which lead to fusion of the sex chromosomes.

When he takes a sip of his famous potion, Jekyll (excellently played by Hammer regular Ralph Bates) becomes Sister Hyde, the statuesque Martine Beswick, ex-Bond girl and one of Hammer’s finest sirens. Beswick soon captures the attention of Howard, the dashing upstairs neighbor. Conveniently, Howard’s pretty sister, Susan, comes for a visit, and falls in love with Jekyll. The mirrored sibling scenario plays out quite nicely.

Most if not all are familiar with “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, so there’s no point in retelling the familiar backstory, other than mentioning it’s gender-bending gimmick twist. What’s interesting, however, is how screenwriter Brian Clemens (who worked on “The Avengers” TV series) interweaves the urban legends of Jack the Ripper and the graverobbers Burke and Hare into the plot. Clemens also pits Jekyll against his female inner demon, in a battle of minds, with two lovers caught in the middle. Sister Hyde proves to be just as deadly as her male alter ego (and more seductive).

By the time the ‘70s rolled around, Hammer was not too shy as to introduce welcome nudity into their horror films (“The Vampire Lovers”, etc.), much to the delight of male viewers who are rewarded with sumptuous amounts of Beswick’s top and posterior. Like all of Hammer’s female leads, she’s got the acting talent to match her looks, and easily taker her place as one of Hammer’s best villainous ladies. Originally, the equally uber-stunning Caroline Munro was offered the part, but turned it down because it involved nudity. I thought Beswick was actually a better choice (as much of a fan of Munro I am), mainly because she resembles Bates (please don’t take that the wrong way).

Further nice touches are London by gaslight and the thick nighttime fog. On the down side, as much as I like Ralph Bates, the movie could have done without his narration.

I was surprised at how dark this edition was on VHS, when you consider it came from Thorn/EMI Video – at the time a major videocassette manufacturer. It’s even darker than most other cheap horror films I have in my collection, so much so that I had to adjust the brightness and contrast! A big thanks to the vendor who sold me this one for a buck at the last Tampa Comic Con.

"Oddservations" is ©2006 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.