(UK/Hungary - 1989)
Directed by Gerard Kikoine. Written by J.P. Felix and Ron Raley. Cast: Anthony Perkins, Glynis Barber, Sarah Maur-Thorp, David Lodge, Ben Cole, Ray Jewers, Jill Medford, Lisa Davis, Briony McRoberts, Claudia Udy. (R, 91 mins)
Taking on the dual roles of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has always been an opportunity for a distinguished actor to deliver a tour-de-force performance. Legends like John Barrymore, Fredric March (who won on Oscar for 1931's DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE), Spencer Tracy, Christopher Lee, Jack Palance, and John Malkovich among many others have taken a turn (even Jerry Lewis if you count the Jekyll & Hyde-inspired THE NUTTY PROFESSOR), but it was 1989's EDGE OF SANITY that provided the great Anthony Perkins with his contribution to the Jekyll & Hyde canon. After nearly 30 years of PSYCHO-derived typecasting as nervous, twitchy weirdos, Perkins had long since given up trying get out of Norman Bates' shadow by the time EDGE OF SANITY came along, with multiple PSYCHO sequels under his belt, including one he directed himself (1986's PSYCHO III). There's a case to be made that Perkins wasn't being very choosy about the gigs he was accepting by 1989, and EDGE OF SANITY is Exhibit A. Produced by the always-suspect Harry Alan Towers, who shepherded many a Jess Franco project in the late '60s and early '70s, EDGE OF SANITY is probably the most jawdroppingly sordid take on Robert Louis Stevenson's source novel that you'll ever see, the possible exception being Walerian Borowczyk's 1981 masterpiece THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MISS OSBOURNE, which was least artistic and genuinely disturbing in its shocking transgressions. EDGE OF SANITY, on the other hand, is an unabashed raunchfest that seems poised to break out into a hardcore porno at any given moment. Perhaps that's not surprising given that French director Gerard Kikoine had previously dabbled in European porn prior to joining the Towers stock company, where he was assigned several of the producer's dubious, apartheid-era South Africa-lensed projects like DRAGONARD (1987) and its simultaneously-shot companion piece MASTER OF DRAGONARD HILL (1987) and the Poesploitation dud BURIED ALIVE (1990). So feverishly perverse is EDGE OF SANITY that rumors have persisted for years that Jess Franco secretly co-wrote it. Even though the credited J.P. Felix doesn't really sound like a real person and has no other IMDb credits, it's not Franco, despite the name sounding very much like his occasional pseudonym "J.P. Fenix."
histrionics from Ken Russell's CRIMES OF PASSION (1984). Jekyll already has some sexual hangups in his psyche, stemming from a childhood voyeurism incident involving a servant girl (Sarah Maur-Thorp), a figure who repeatedly turns up in various guises in Hyde's nightly travels. It's another interesting touch to have Maur-Thorp play a series of prostitutes who all look the same to the out-of-control Hyde, the id of the more outwardly proper Jekyll. But again, whatever deeper themes Fenix, co-writer Ron Raley, and director Kikoine are going for are obliterated by the garish lighting, a demeaning role for Maur-Thorp (who only made a couple of other movies before quitting acting) and Perkins' insane performance, which manages to be simultaneously fearless and embarrassing. As a goth-looking Hyde, Perkins grimaces, twists and contorts his body, moans, groans, and grunts while aggressively rubbing bare asses, sucks on a crack pipe, head-butts Cockney pimps, initiates threesomes, masturbates a prostitute with his walking stick, and repeatedly gropes and fondles himself throughout.