Sunday, May 2, 2021

Strange Case of Dr. Jeckel & Ms. Hyde, The (1990)

... aka: Dr. Jeckel & Ms. Hide
... aka: Dr. Jeckel and Ms. Hide

Directed by:
Michael Craig

This isn't the first, nor would it be the last, X-rated take off on the famous Robert Louis Stevenson tale. Some of the earlier erotic versions include the mean-spirited softcore flick The Jekyll & Hyde Portfolio (1971), which played out much more a like traditional horror film than most of these others, and the comedic The Amazing Dr. Jekyll (1975) starring Harry Reems, which actually is quite funny at times. A later serious hardcore version, Jekyll & Hyde (1999), directed by Paul Thomas and starring Taylor Hayes, actually had a budget and was shot on location in Budapest, Hungary. However, being from the late 80s VHS era, the version we'll be taking a look at today was shot on video in the Las Vegas area with next to no budget and a bare minimum of production values. The cast are basically tasked with carrying the entire load here, so to speak.

More than anything else, this is in the family of body switch comedies, which were seeing a resurgence in popularity at the time due to such releases as Like Father Like Son (1987), Vice Versa (1988) and 18 Again! (1988). There were other films that, while technically not body switch films, certainly tread similar ground. The most noteworthy of these was the critically acclaimed and Oscar-nominated Big (1988), which featured a kid suddenly having to adjust to the adult working world after magically waking up in Tom Hanks' adult body. There were also a number of films from this time featuring men being turned into women, including the Chuck Vincent-directed Cleo/Leo (1989), which was actually much better than the big budgeted Switch (1991) directed by Blake Edwards. This one basically falls into this same category. The granddaddy of all these was the Hal Roach comedy Turnabout (1940), where a bickering husband and wife switch bodies, and the genre touchstone is Hammer's Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1972) starring Martine Beswick as Jekyll's seductive and murderous alter ago. The female "Hyde" side was also featured in The Adult Version of Jekyll and Hyde (1972) and, being played for laughs, the unsuccessful big budget Sean Young vehicle Dr. Jeckyl and Ms. Hyde (1995).

After months of research at his secluded mansion lab, Dr. Douglas Maxner (Mike Horner) has come up with a new hallucinogenic "hormonal stimulant" that he hopes will reduce aging to the point where man can become immortal. Lacking any test subjects, he decides to try the serum out on himself and immediately passes out after taking it. When he comes to, he's not quite himself and has made some interesting bodily transformations. Well, he's actually temporarily turned into the hot-bodied Ashlyn Gere. Gere stays in the home, pretends to be the doctor's friend visiting from out of town and starts going by the name Maxie Douglas. After a sharp pain to the abdomen, the doctor can transform back and forth between male and female bodies, which enables him to have sex with whoever he wants, which is basically anyone who happens to be in the same room at the same time. Unlike many other films of this type where the male protagonist in his female form retains his previous sexuality and uncomfortably squirms away from men hitting on them, here "he" gladly has sex with other men and enjoys it.

Douglas / Maxie first has a "wonderful experiment" with pushy butler Manny (Randy West) on the couch before moving on to maid Joanie (Madison Stone) in the bedroom. Douglas' womanizing, arrogant friend Lance (Peter North) stops by and invites him on a blind date ("There's nothing more important than shoving your love sword between some thighs of some wailing babe.") At a restaurant, he meets blonde Michelle (Champagne) and the two instantly fall in love. Michelle is impressed he seems in-tune with his sensitive, feminine side. Her lesbian friend / sometimes lover Sondra (Celia Young) suggests "He's a faggot! He's a girl stuck inside a guy's body! Trust me I know about these things!" to which Michelle assures her "But he doesn't kiss like a faggot would. It's really very good!" Celia, however, is not convinced: "Come on. What man's gonna pass up the chance to share two lesbians on the path of heterosexual righteousness?"

Douglas eventually decides he's had enough of his Maxie persona and needs to "ungirl" himself so he can be with Michelle full time. That requires an antidote which requires Maxie seducing Lance (not a difficult task obviously) and then having him spooge inside a coffee mug (?!)

The good news is that the star, who was experienced in theater and R-rated B movies prior to this, is a much more skilled actress than is the norm for this kind of film. Not that it matters so much here as scriptwriter Mark Weiss gives her little to actually do and doesn't take the premise to many interesting comedic or dramatic places. Still, she delivers her lines far better than any of her costars and at least gets one amusing scene trying to figure out how to put on a bra for the first time. After paying her dues with a string of similar SOV adult films in the early 90s, Gere eventually moved up to better-quality 35mm productions. In between her adult films she also continued to land mainstream acting gigs in both film and TV before retiring in the early 2000s.

As far as the sex scenes are concerned, they're passable but nothing really stands out either. There are four straightforward male/female sex scenes and one girl-girl scene between Champagne and Young (who apparently committed suicide in 1992). Gere was certainly utilized better elsewhere.


spookyx3 said...

written, such as it is, by mark weiss (JL's CATWOMAN, F13TH: A NUDE BEGINNING). not his finest hour. they ought to have made more of gere playing horner, especially when paired with peter north (!) which ends up being just another possible cast combination.

i'm never sure whether to suggest SOV wall-to-wallers. tons of tapes were clearly meant to appeal to b-horror fans, but there's often so little in them to actually review.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

Yep, many of the older ones I've seen that are take-offs of popular horror titles just use the title and may throw in a few jokes or visual references to the original but that's it. Doesn't hurt to throw them on here for completion's sake though it IS definitely difficult to stretch out a review for some of these.

spookyx3 said...

> number of films from this time featuring men being turned into women

ron jeremy, a vile, womanizing piece of shit (not acting), falls into the hudson river and emerges as sheri st. claire in henri pachard's SWEET REVENGE (1986). GOODBYE CHARLIE is most likely the modern inspiration for all of these.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

"ron jeremy, a vile, womanizing piece of shit (not acting)"

Yeah, the women who got stuck with him always had my sympathy. I listened to an interview with Ginger Lynn, who said she used him as a barometer to whether or not she could go through with making adult films i.e. if she could fake looking like she was enjoying herself with him she knew that she could fake enjoyment with ANYBODY.

Also, I never really understood why he got more R rated film work than any other X performer did. It's like filmmakers thought they were being edgy and / or campy by casting him. I was always thinking, "I'd rather see anyone else than him!"

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