Tuesday, April 5, 2011

DR. BLACK & MR. HYDE

From the director of BLACULA, William Crain, comes another Blaxploitation variation on a classic horror theme, with 1976's DR. BLACK & MR. HYDE, now on DVD from VCI Entertainment.

Bernie Casey (CLEOPATRA JONES) plays Dr. Henry Pryde, an accomplished physician and researcher who is working with the lovely Dr. Worth (Rosalind Cash, THE OMEGA MAN) on a serum that will repair damaged livers by regenerating dead cells. Unfortunately, as he discovers when he experiments with the serum upon himself (as movie scientists are wont to do), it has the somewhat distressing side-effect of turning him into an albino psychotic with a taste for the blood of prostitutes.

DR. BLACK & MR. HYDE is actually a fairly enjoyable Blaxploitation horror romp with good performances by an accomplished cast who play it straight. Not particularly scary, it is, however, occasionally quite suspenseful and has a few fun surprises. Bernie Casey shines in the role of the committed and idealistic Dr. Pryde, imbuing the character with considerable dignity and sympathy. The "Hyde" make-up is kinda silly, but by the time it is revealed, most viewers should be caught up enough in the story to just roll with it. The cinematography is rather TV-like, but then, director Crain was mostly a TV guy.

VCI's "35th Anniversary" DVD sports a satisfactory, if unspectacular, 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that definitely shows its age with somewhat faded colors and a bit of minimal dirt/damage, but is otherwise quite nice for a film of this vintage. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, and is adequate. The only extra is the theatrical trailer. Before the film, VCI has also included some trailers for some of their other Blaxploitation and horror titles.

If you enjoyed BLACULA, DR. BLACK & MR. HYDE is in the same vein: a low-budget but entertaining 70's take on the Robert Louis Stevenson horror classic. it's not a great movie, by any means, but it's better than you'd think and a lot of fun.

BUY: Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde - 35th Anniversary!