Elite Entertainment // 2003 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dennis Prince (Retired) // February 29th, 2008
Let's be clear about this: garbage that spills forth liberally around us, even though set to music, still stinks.
The Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde Rock 'n Roll Musical is your first clue that there's some bad chemistry going on here. Although it self-admittedly set its sights upon joining the ranks of cult horror-rock favorites like The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Phantom of the Paradise, this production team was in need of a vision specialist, not a pie-faced crooning chemist. Then again, that's likely what this hobbled horror-musical needed most: a competent production crew.
Laboring along under a largely incoherent narrative, the film opens in 1885 England as we encounter novelist Robert Louis Stevenson (as played by this film's director, Andre Champagne) haunted by an apparition of a twisted and grotesque man that seems to compel the writer to compose his noteworthy work. Suddenly, we leap ahead to modern day Los Angeles where we meet a rather roundish Dr. Jekyll (Alan Bernhoft) who sings about wanting to meet some fellow named Edward Hyde. With a deft mixing of colored liquids and a fast swallow, Hyde emerges. Ah, but how did we get here? We'll need to go back two weeks to learn about Henry Jekyll's obsession with man's evil nature, suppressed deep within his psyche. He loves Anne (Lisa Peterson) and she loves him yet his friend Poole (Robert Ricucci) wonders, in song, why the brilliant doctor is so preoccupied with his work. Of course, Poole is obviously preoccupied with his own physique as he croons about Jekyll during a shirtless workout in the basement. But the notion of Hyde overcomes Jekyll and the manifest evil character also overtakes the doctor and proceeds to wield a reign of terror on any drunken bum or witless hooker that will situate themselves on the wrong end of the monster's hardwood cane.
If this all sounds good, don't be mistaken -- it isn't. This is an amateur's worst amateur effort, the camerawork being uncertain and uneven. The editing looks as if it was achieved with the only handy pair of child's safety scissors, poorly disguised with repetitive fades to black. Alan Bernhoft as Jekyll/Hyde is as ill fitting as the last tuxedo available for rental on prom night. When crooning as Jekyll, Bernhoft sleepwalks around in a lab coat until he can switch over to Hyde. When the darker half emerges, in song, Bernhoft attempts to cheat his audience with a clearly unoriginal cobbling of Meatloaf, Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osborne, and Richard O'Brien (Riff Raff from Rocky Horror). In spoken voice as Hyde, Bernhoft attempts to don some sort of quasi-British accent or, at best, mimic Paul Williams from Phantom of the Paradise. Needless to say, none of this works.
The rest of the actors are similarly ungifted and all appear far too self-aware of the camera as they try to play their roles in fashion immediately reminiscent of last Fall's high school play. The sets are similarly bland and bereft of character, at best suited for a small town church's Halloween fundraiser, one that's sure to fall short of its fiscal goals.
As for this DVD, the amateur escapades continue on beginning with the 1.85:1 non-anamorphic (!) widescreen transfer that is more schizophrenic in its handling of color, grain, sharpness, and compression artifacts than if Stevenson's actual Hyde had been leading the mastering team. If ever you long for the 1980s and the reminder of how bad videotape presentations looked, here's your chance for some nostalgia. The audio is similarly muddled, the Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track doing little to buoy a purported "musical." Clearly this is symptomatic of the poor original audio mastering but it sounds even worse here, fidelity wavering throughout, the experience exacerbated by the actor's terrible lip-synching.
When it comes to extra features, here's where the madman is truly on the loose. Self-absorption achieves new heights as you are begged to endure over four hours of additional content, sure to make you feel you've stumbled into a retro nightmare of endless home movies supported by volumes of family photo albums. Truly, this material has significance to but a handful of onlookers, namely the cast and crew of this let's-pat-ourselves-on-the-back charade. The audio commentary betrays the self-congratulatory tone of the bonus content, as director Andre Champagne is joined by Bernhoft and Ricucci and the three yock it up annoyingly as if they've truly accomplished something noteworthy and they must suppress their greatness through a feigned veil of self-deprecation. It's an insufferable track, to say the very least. Beyond this are overlong heapings-on including a 45-minute "making of" on set home video, an hour-long interview with the duped Hal Blaine, and 11-minute photo gallery, and more about the production that you never wanted to know. So, as if you were a victim of Hyde himself, you'll be bludgeoned by this imposed applause-sign solicitation unless you can find yourself a swift exit from this very bad dream. The remote -- there's the antidote!
If the film achieves anything, it does expose the influence of our darker emotions. As the film grates along, you'll find your ire rising to a near uncontrollable level such that you'll want to grab your remote and strike somebody with it. Hopefully you'll find enough mental clarity to simply press the "stop" button and end the madness.
Guilty as charged.
Review content copyright © 2008 Dennis Prince; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Elite Entertainment
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Audio commentary
* Making-of video
* Original short film
* Extended Hal Blaine interview
* Promo reel
* Theatrical Trailer
* Photo gallery
* Official Site