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Based on the classic story by author Robert Louis Stevenson, the tale of the good doctor Henry Jekyll and his deranged evil side manifested in Edward Hyde is brought to the stage (and into modern day LA), set to a rock soundtrack. Is this the second coming of ROCKY HORROR, or are we just left doing the time warp again?
I'll get this off my bloody chest right now: musicals ain't mah thang. ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is an exception, along with Andrew Lloyd Webber's PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (the real musical, not Joel Schumacher's lame attempt at pulling a ROCKY HORROR). That said, I was willing to give this puppy a shot, but after viewing this film, I'm feeling that this puppy took a dump on my rug, ate my shoes, scratched the hell out of my door and bit my date and gave her rabies.
The film opens with Robert Louis Stevenson (played by director Andre Champagne) having one of those typical nights (nights that look like daytime) in 1885 England. You know, the one where you're tormented by some ugly dude peeking in on you while you're sleeping, instantly compelling you to write a story about a man exploring his darker side by swigging back some strange concoction, transforming into some dirty hobo who goes cruising for hookers in modern day Los Angeles? Yeah, that one. I pretty much just told you the opening 10 minutes of the film, so I saved you 10 minutes of your life that you most assuredly will want back after this, especially after witnessing the worst dubbing ever put to screen. Seriously, I thought there was something wrong with my DVD player it was so bad. It was like watching a foreign film. The problem is, the film is in English.
Back to the film, which jumps to two weeks before said experiments, introducing us to Jekyll's friend Poole (Ricucci) and Anne (Peterson), Jekyll's love interest. From some of the lyrics, however, you'd think Jekyll (played by Alan Bernhoft) is more interested in getting to know this 'Mr. Hyde' than Anne. Never mind that, after a scene involving the rather pudgy Hyde apparently having gotten it on with Anne, the film switches to Poole wondering aloud (in song, no less) why the brilliant doctor is so preoccupied with his work (cutting to shots of the doctor working for a few moments). This is of course while Poole is occupied with his own physique during a shirtless workout in the basement, hairy chest and all (picture a shirtless Tom Savini sans goatee singing while going at it with the punching bag and you have a picture of Poole). At the end, Poole inexplicably throws his skipping rope at a mirror and shatters it over his frustration at Jekyll's obsessions with his work.
Eventually, after some high school-quality acting involving some rather redundant character development and plot advancement, Jekyll's work (or Hyde, for that matter) gets the better of him, leaving the viewer with a cane-wielding thug speaking in a so-so British accent, who proceeds to go to town on a bum his first night out. Heck, Hyde even gets on the mic at a local bar and shows off his best Alice Cooper impression, growling about about how he loves "little girls" and wants to offer them 'candy' while they sit on his knee. Oh yeah, and he's groping a hooker while singing this. That's quality film there, folks! The rest of the film follows suit with more wooden acting, lame set design and bad rip-offs of 80's music videos that had me reaching for the scotch.
How this film won 'Best Score' and 'Best Cinematography' at the B-Movie Film Festival in New York is beyond me, since the songs themselves are anything but memorable or clever, and the cinematography is proof enough why you need editors that don't use safety scissors when they work. Looking at the film's official website doesn't exactly come to the defense of the project, either. While it's one thing to tout how the film was made on such a meager budget of $55,000, it's another to call it a miracle, since it's anything but. Furthermore, all the folks who've sung the film's praises on the film's site must have been paid off or given an entirely different movie to watch, since no one I'd know would call this 'an enjoyable film' (of course, that was someone from 20th Century Fox, so go figure).
Can anything positive be taken from this 'film'? I'm sure there's a good drinking game in here somewhere, though regardless if you do play, everyone will end up in the same place after watching this: in the bathroom hitting yourself in the head with the toilet seat, since that in itself is marginally more enjoyable than spending 90 minutes watching this loser of a winner. Honestly, spend your $15 elsewhere, since that's way too much for this coaster.
Video: Okay, for starters we get a non-anamorphic (yes, you read that right) 1.85:1 widescreen transfer that shows Elite was having a bad day and then some. The film (shot in 2003) looks like something out of the 80's as colour, grain and sharpness are all shot to hell, with bad compression artifacts thrown in for good measure. If this is supposed to add to the film itself, it makes it seem more like a porno than a musical (given the acting, it's not too far off).
Audio: Like the video, the audio department must have taken a vacation at the same time, as the Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track doesn't exactly scream (no pun intended) musical. Further compounded by the fact that the actors are terrible at lip-synching, there's not much power behind the bass, and the quality of the sound overall wavers in and out.
For a film this poor, we're treated to over four hours of bonus material.
First on the docket we get an audio commentary with director Andre Champagne and actors Alan Bernhoft and Robert Ricucci, who spend the time goofing it up annoyingly as if they truly believe what's on the screen can be classified as some sort of accomplishment or something noteworthy. For all we know, these guys must be full of shite all the while doing the self-congratulatory thing.
Next is a 45-minute "making of" on set home video that's a little more interesting than the film itself (plus you get a pig thrown into the mix), while the 11-minute photo gallery is a take-it-or-leave-it thing.
Following that is an hour-long interview with rock & roll hall-of-fame drummer Hal Blaine, who was probably one of the many folks paid off to say nice things about the film (saying the film is going to be a hit must have taken a lot of guts and cash). Incidentally, Blaine plays the wino that Hyde brains to death with his cane (the role must have been some sort of compensation for the kind words).
Tossed into the rest of the mix are a list of the various awards and festivals the film was featured in, a test trailer, which shows the original intent of the film was a period piece (!) and the actual theatrical trailer.
What may have started out with good intentions onstage turned into a clusterf*ck of a film. Everything screams amateur, even for a B-movie. While those who are curious enough may find the extras entertaining, the rest of us will be wanting a return to transsexual Transylvania. You've been warned.