Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne (1981, Walerian Borowczyk)

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"Misfortune follows misfortune. Madame, I have murdered your chauffeur. My humblest apologies."

Another lost film recently unearthed by Arrow Films, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne (aka Docteur Jekyll et les femmes) is, as the title states, strange. I was unfamiliar with the film before reading about its new release, however I was familiar with director Walerian Borowczyk, probably best known for his films The Beast and Immoral Women. I had watched one of his films, Behind Convent Walls, about five years ago (on September 23rd, 2010 to be pointlessly exact) and based on that film's strange blend of artful sleaze, I knew what I was getting into.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne (damn that's a long title) stars Udo Kier (who I love) as Dr. Henry Jekyll. Jekyll is having a get together announcing his engagement to Miss Fanny Osbourne (the lovely Marina Pierro). Some of the guests include a General, his daughter, a fellow doctor (Jess Franco's buddy Howard Vernon) and a reverend. Shortly after the guests arrive, they start getting knocked off one by one, though not by ordinary means. The inhuman killer seems to have a giant pointed wang which he uses to penetrate his victims to death with. Ouch! I'm sure you can guess who the killer is by the title of the film...or can you?

This film (I'm NOT going to type that title again!), is not only strange, but it's warped. Really warped. The use of classical music confuses your expectations, as do the beautiful settings (Borowczyk did the set designs too) and the hazy, period camerawork. But don't let this fool you, this film has plenty of perverse scenes and characters. The killer's (as described above) appearance is startling and Jekyll's transformation into Mr. Hyde sends him into an almost orgasmic frenzy. I'll admit, there are some slow parts in this film, but I never found my mind wandering or my ass squirming in my seat (well, maybe in a couple key scenes...but not out of boredom). Arrow's release is pretty amazing, in both quality and quantity. The transfer used for this release is stunning and clear. And the bonus features? Boy do we have bonus features here. Interviews, commentaries, short films and even a booklet! Overall, not a perfect film but definitely an oddity that lovers of avant garde and sleazy films should seek out. Below are a list of the bonus features included in Arrow's Blu Ray/DVD combo:

-Brand new 2K restoration, scanned from the original camera negative and supervised by cinematographer Noel Very
-High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the film, released on both formats for the first time ever
-English and French soundtracks in LPCM 1.0
-Optional English and English SDH subtitles
-Introduction by critic and long-term Borowczyk fan Michael Brooke
-Audio commentary featuring archival interviews with Walerian Borowczyk, Udo Kier, Marina Pierro and producer Robert Kuperberg, and new interviews with cinematographer Noël Véry, editor Khadicha Bariha, assistant Michael Levy and writer / director Noël
-Interview with Marina Pierro
-Himorogi (2012), a short film by Marina and Alessio Pierro, made in homage to Borowczyk
-Interview with artist and filmmaker Alessio Pierro
-Video essay by Adrian Martin and Cristina Alvarez Lopez
-Eyes That Listen, a featurette on Borowczyk's collaborations with electro-acoustic composer Bernard Parmegiani
-Returning to Melies: Borowczyk and Early Cinema, a featurette by Daniel Bird
-Reversible sleeve with artwork based on Borowczyk's own poster design
-Booklet with new writing on the film by Daniel Bird and archive materials, illustrated with rare stills


Film: 7/10
DVD/Blu Ray: 10/10

Order The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne (I lied about not typing the name again) directly from MVD HERE

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