The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Miss Osbourne

Film Review by Rachel Bowles | 25 May 2015
Film title: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne
Director: Walerian Borowczyk
Starring: Marina Pierro, Udo Kier, Patrick Magee, Howard Vernon
Release date: 20 Apr
Certificate: 18

Walerian Borowczyk’s uniquely erotic take on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic gothic tale of split personality re-imagines Dr Jekyll’s experimental transmutations into Mr Hyde not as social regression but libertine rebellion against the suffocating social mores of upper-class, fin-de-siècle society.

Opening with the off-screen murder of a child, Dr. Jekyll’s family and guests gather to celebrate his engagement to Miss Osbourne and, in classic Buñelian fashion, bourgeois ritual repeatedly interrupts the desires of the couple. As guests start to appear brutally raped and murdered, Borowcyzk’s film unravels into something between a lurid giallo and proto-New French Extremism, 20 years before the genre’s inception. Despite its manic brilliance, The Strange Case suffers from problematic sexual and racial politics, with the camera’s gaze leering at incestuous sexual abuse, and wordless juvenile and black characters present only for the fleshly spectacle of their rapes at the hands of supposed übermensch Mr. Hyde. [Rachel Bowles]

Released on DVD and Bly-ray by Arrow Video