A few years back Legend Films licensed a bunch of catalogue titles from Paramount. Those titles were released on DVD and now with Blu-ray they're being re-released as double features at a fair price point, each film on its own disc. Here's a look at one of their latest offerings, the B-movie coupling of Student Bodies and Jekyll And Hyde Together Again Let's start with the slasher parody before we get to the monster movie parody...
You know from the opening phone gag exactly what kind of movie you're in for when you plop Student Bodies into your Blu-ray player. A heavy breather calls a young woman, gets hung up on, and then calls back to reiterate with 'I SAID HUHHH UHHHH UHHHH' only to get hung up on one more time. The breather enters the house where the girl and her arrogant boyfriend are hanging out and, after getting gum stuck to his boots and moaning and groaning his way up the stairs, he kills them both.
After the opening scene we're introduced to a moralistic young woman named Toby (Kristen Ritter) who attempts to warn all of her fellow college students of the dangers of pre-marital intercourse. Unfortunately for Toby, many of her classmates are being murdered and she finds herself the prime suspect in the investigation. Toby does a little investigating of her own, however, and soon figures that the killer could only be a member of the school staff and that the guilty party has obviously set her up to take the fall.
Principal Peters (Joe Talarowski) sends Toby to see Dr. Sigmund (Carl Jacobs), the school guidance counselor, but he turns out to be no help to her at all. Unfortunately for Toby, the killer, who is intent on making as many perverted phone calls as the film's running time will allow for, is becoming bolder and more frequent in his attacks and Toby remains the prime suspect. Only Toby's friend Hardy (Matthew Goldsby) is on her side and willing to help her prove her innocence and Toby, clever lass that she is, figures the best time to blow the lead off the killer's true identity will be at the upcoming school prom.
A precursor to films like Scream (the cover art makes absolutely sure we know this!), Student Bodies is played with tongue placed firmly in cheek. It mercilessly skewers slasher film stereotypes by using a completely unoriginal plot and every type of character stereotype you could imagine. That said, much of the humor in the film is really quite groan inducing and for much of the running time you're not laughing with the film so much as you're laughing at it. The writers seem to have had this in mind, however, and the end result is... well, at least you're laughing at something and the reasons don't really matter. A lot of the jokes and gags are repeated too often for their own good and the performances from the cast of no-name actors are wooden and unconvincing. The murders aren't gruesome enough to be memorable and the direction is fairly lifeless. That said, Student Bodies is still an entertaining film. Some of the more self referential moments in the film can still illicit a chuckle or two (the message from the producers is predictable but still amusing) and the bookends obsessed shop teacher is amusing. It's one of those movies that shouldn't work at all but somehow, thanks to a combination of odd humor, horror film homage, and a killer who loves girl sweat and spouts off the most inane dialogue imaginable ("Boobs! Boobs! Bellybutton! I'm taking it out of my pants and doing what my mommy told me not to do!") it manages to remain quite entertaining.
Jekyll And Hyde Together Again:
While the cover art for this Blu-ray proudly proclaims that Jekyll And Hyde Together Again is 'from the producer of The Matrix and Lethal Weapon this film is about as far from either of those pictures as you can get.
The film follows Doctor Daniel Jekyll (Mark Blankfield, credited as the interviewer from KISS XPOSED but who is probably best known for Robin Hood: Men In Tights), a young surgeon who attempts to quit his profession so that he can concentrate on his research that he in turn hopes will allow him to develop a medicine that brings out the true animal in man. His theory is that this will help people fight disease and feel less pain, or some such nonsense, but really it serves on purpose and that's to give Jekyll a reason to be around copious amounts of white powder that, when exposed to light, turn into a cocaine like substance.
When Jekyll inadvertently snorts a line of this powder, his hair grows frizzy, he grows a big moustache, his chest hair multiplies, his shirt unbuttons, his pants tighten and he turns into a party animal who obsesses over a young stripper and one time patient named Ivy (Krista Errickson of Little Darlings!). This all occurs much to the dismay of his money hungry high society fiancé, Mary (Bess Armstrong of Jaws 3-D) and her hospital owning father (Michael McGuire of Walter Hill's Hard Times) who needs him to perform an important operation on local billionaire, Hubert Howes (Peter Brocco of Johnny Got His Gun).
Directed by Jerry Belson (who did most of his work in television but who did produce a movie or two, such as the aforementioned Student Bodies and hey, he wrote Smokey And The Bandit Part II) this movie is very much a product of its time. Inspired by disco culture and a skewed idea of punk rock, Jekyll And Hyde Together Again is ripe with political incorrectness and bas, juvenile humor. That said, many of the gags are still funny, even if they are dumber than dirt. The ongoing bits with a plastic surgeon who works in the same hospital as Jekyll (played by Tim Thomerson of Trancers!) are good for a laugh as are the ever increasing after effects of Mr. Hyde's nocturnal adventures. A couple of unexpected musical numbers add to the 'what the Hell?' factor of the movie and a finale set in Victorian-era London is both completely out of place and somehow entirely appropriate at the same time. At eighty-seven minutes the picture doesn't overstay its welcome and fans of eighties trash comedies will likely enjoy this one quite a bit
Both Student Bodies and Jekyll And Hyde Together Again are presented in AVC encoded 1.78.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfers that offer considerably more detail and better texture than the original DVD releases from a couple of years ago could provide. The picture quality for both films on the disc has more depth and noticeably better color reproduction. There aren't any major print damage issues here (the first few minutes of Student Bodies notwithstanding - it does look a bit rough), just a speck now and then, and the movies are nice and clean looking with some natural film grain present throughout. You can't expect these to offer up the same sort of color and detail as the latest blockbuster but for a pair of older low budget B-movies they don't look bad at all - fans of the films should be pleased with the picture quality here and there are no problems with any noticeable DNR or edge enhancement. The second feature looks better than the first by a large margin, but if you've seen either of these films before on DVD or an earlier format, you'll probably be quite pleased with the upgrade for both films.
Both films are presented with English language Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks that don't appear to be any different than their DVD counterparts at all. Sadly, there are no lossless audio mixes here nor are there any surround mixes. As far as the quality of the audio goes, both films are pretty much in the same ball park in that they sound fine, just rather unremarkable. The levels are well balanced and there are no problems with hiss or distortion to complain about, but don't expect anything exciting here as things to tend to lean a little towards the flat side now and then. No alternate language options or subtitles are provided.
Aside from a static menu and some exciting chapter selection, this disc is completely barebones, there aren't even any trailers here - at least the standard definition release of Student Bodies had that much.
The fact that this release contains the exact same audio mixes as the DVD releases and actually contains less extras than the DVD releases makes it hard to give it much of a recommendation. The transfers are better, there's no contesting that, so if you're a big fan of either film you'll want to upgrade it that's important to you but neither one of these are 'must own' movies - though they are worth seeing. Check'em out with a rental if you can first.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.