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DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL MUSICAL (2003)
Published by Film Fanaddict on 2008/7/30 (1938 reads)
Directed by Andre Champagne
Review by Aaron W. Graham
Released by Elite Entertainment
Running Time: 90 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Color format: Color
Audio/Subtitles: DD 2.0
Region Code: 1
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
16:9 Enhanced: No
Special Features: Audio Commentary, Behind-the-Scenes (still photos), Making-Of (43 minutes), Interview with Music Consultant Hal Blaine (53 minutes), Promo Reel (5 minutes), Awards & Reviews (8 minutes), Theatrical Trailer
Trailer Online: Yes
Already the central focus of a Broadway musical (featuring David Hasselhoff!), Robert Louis Stevenson’s venerable and timeless novel about split personalities, “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, has now been adapted by producer/writer/lead Alan Bernhoft into a pulsating rock ‘n’ roll song-and-dance show that takes more of an inspiration from The Who’s TOMMY and Brian De Palma’s (and Paul Williams’) PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE than anything traditionally seen on the New York stage.
Starring Bernhoft as the hero Henry Jekyll and his doppelganger Edward Hyde, the story commences with a flashback to London in the 1880s, when the novel was originally written. Stevenson, awaken with feverish visions, sets out to scribble down some initial thoughts and ideas on paper before allowing himself any more rest. Flashing forward to modern day, we’re introduced to Bernhoft in his laboratory, perfecting the mystery elixir that will change the course of his life forever. A detective acquaintance, a requisite love interest, and some lower class victims crop up to populate the rest of the tale, which faithfully and adequately follows the thorough line as presented in Stevenson’s original version. What’s troublesome about the production, specifically, is the lack of charisma in Bernhoft, who, quite frankly, resembles any 80s soap opera star. One simply can’t garner enough/any sympathy for his well-being when his yellow-toothed, top-hat alter ego decides to put in an appearance at the local Los Angeles hot-spots, hitting on the throngs of women, and teasing out a murder victim to take home. The songs aren’t particularly noteworthy either, purely perfunctory ROCKY HORROR or PHANTOM take-offs.
Presented in a picture perfect transfer that serves to illustrate how evocative and gothic Champagne’s camerawork can be, even if it’s heavy on the filters and fog machines. The sound, always an important factor in a musical, is sufficiently conveyed through a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. Extras include a largely self-congratulatory audio commentary with Bernhoft and Champagne, a handicam-shot 43 minute Making-Of, and, most pleasingly, almost an hour-long chat with West Coast session man Hal Blaine (a collaborator of both The Beach Boys and Elvis Presley), who served as a consultant. An Awards & Reviews sections details the many commendations the film has received, including a positive response from PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE mastermind Paul Williams.
A solid approach to an already exhausted concept, the project becomes a casualty in its inability to share the wealth in job responsibilities; a rare case of too few cooks in the kitchen. Made on a shoestring budget for just under $60,000, Bernhoft is fighting an uphill battle all the way and, unfortunately, along with cinematographer/director Champagne, he fail in his attempts to add stylistic curlicues to an underdeveloped, undercooked idea that’s ultimately better suited for a one-off or weeklong fringe play.
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