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Edge Of Sanity

AKA:
 
 
Take the tales of Jekyll And Hyde and Jack The Ripper, fuse them with "Scarface" and "Fear City", give it a Robert Smith make-up job and "Flashdance" lighting and crank the sex and violence factors to the top of Big Ben.

In a nutshell, that's what this demented, horrifying but terrific movie is.

The tale focuses on Dr. Henry Jekyll (Perkins), a man of great intelligence and a good home, complete with his loving wife Elisabeth (Barber). His life is okay, but he's still haunted by horrible childhood memories of beatings administered to him after he viewed a couple making love in a barn. Although he tries to banish these memories to the past, they'll end up coming out again in full force.

Henry has been experimenting with cocaine... You know, for scientific purposes. He tries it on an experimental monkey... He gives it a go as a sedative for a patient he's working on... Finally, one dark evening, he has some himself. When his monkey messes with the equipment, Jekyll becomes enveloped in a cloud of proto-freebase smoke and emerges as a man with a Goth look and a mind that has Prince's dirtiness and Charles Manson's pure evil. He walks the night, looking for a woman. He finds her in a pink, frilly dress and bustier, but she's attending to other people at the moment. Henry is accosted by a proto-pimp named Johnny (Cole) who takes him to a woman named Madam Flora (Melford). She offers him a selection of women, but he declines, preferring to stick with a streetwalker. At first, acting submissive, he eventually takes control of the young woman, ripping her clothes off and then slitting her throat. Jekyll wakes up in the morning back to being himself. For the first time, Henry experienced a night in the life of his alter-ego Jack Hyde.

After a day of work, night falls and Hyde is on the loose again, this time taking a tart to a rooftop, garotting her and turning her throat and ample chest into spaghetti marinara. Consulting fellow doctors in the daytime, Jekyll wonders if a person can go so far over the edge they can never come back. Another night, another woman for Hyde, this time from Flora's. Her name is Susannah (Thorp), and she's into the rough stuff and the drugs as much as Hyde is. Turning Susannah over to Johnny is a great thrill for Hyde, but the double life is affecting Henry. At dinners, he's stating that he would prefer a life with no rules, but lawlessness is unacceptable to his friends and colleagues.

The slashings have the ladies of the evening fearing for their lives and afraid to ply their trade. A detective named Underwood (Lodge) is asking for Jekyll's assistance, and while he complies, Henry is re-living his childhood beatings over and over again. Elisabeth's work with hookers (saving them and bringing them to the church for protection) takes a deadly turn when one of them faints and bleeds. Elisabeth searches for Henry, but to no avail. Jekyll is back at Flora's, tearing through the place like an animal. Back on the streets, he's mugged. He has no money, though... The fake-out allows him to ribbon-cut the lady who tried to swindle him and stab the eye of her accomplice.

After all of this, Henry tries to stay off the stuff, but it's to no avail. All the cocaine he did has so screwed up his brain that in the mirror, he's seeing his victims, back from the dead and having sex with the man who beat him in the barn. Even his own wife has become a prostitute in his visions... Everybody's smiling at him, but the smiles are masks of pure evil. Before his wife's eyes, Jekyll becomes Hyde, and then runs out into the streets. He gathers up Susannah and Johnny, along with a streetwalker, takes them to a hideaway and has his way with the lot of them. Within a short span of time, they're all dead. His wife followed him, escaped a rape attempt by Johnny and is now back at home, quivering in fear of what the next moment will bring. In this case, it brings Hyde home to graffiti his lab, fake a suicide and kill his wife.

Back to being himself, Henry wraps things up with Underwood, who hits the streets to continue the search for Hyde, Underwood little knowing that he was chatting with the evil S.O.B the whole time.

Verdict?

This movie is sheer sex and violence, but it's great to watch. The cast is uniformly swell, but it's the late Anthony Perkins' show all the way. He's an over-the-top presence in this piece, and the film world is all the worse for his loss.

Anyway, if you want to convince someone that cocaine will mess up their lives, first show them "Scarface", and then show them this. It'll put a fear of the hard stuff into them. Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign may have been a joke (and I say that as a conservative), but we got great movies like this out of the concept.

A solid 9, and thanks for the great work, Mr. Perkins, wherever you are.

Notice any mistakes? Review

Strengths: The sheer demented thrust of the whole thing makes it impossible to find anything but strengths.

Weaknesses? None that I can think of.

Our rating: 9 out of 10


Review Written by John Edward Kilduff:  Contact  |  More Reviews by John Edward Kilduff
Edge Of Sanity