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Edge of Sanity (Special Edition)

Arrow Video // R // May 24, 2022
List Price: $39.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted June 14, 2022 | E-mail the Author

The Movie:


Directed by Gerard Kilkoine in 1989 for producer Harry Alan Towers, Edge Of Sanity opens with a scene that introduces us to a young Henry Jekyll and explains in no uncertain terms why he'll grow up to have… issues. And grow up he does (at which point he's played by Anthony Perkins), after attending medical school and setting up practice as a doctor in London. Here he seems to live a comfortable life along with his pretty wife Elizabeth (Glynis Barber), but appearances, as we all know, can be deceiving.


Henry's life starts to unravel once he starts experimenting with alternatives to pain relief, specifically through the use of cocaine, and who better to test it on than himself? Of course, once that gets mixed, accidently, with another chemical he doesn't just get high but in fact transforms Jekyll's alter ego, Jack Hyde. As the story goes, Hyde is everything that Jekyll is not: suave, cool, confident. He quickly befriends a ne'er-do-well named Johnny (Ben Cole) who introduces him to the pleasures of the flesh available at a brothel run by Madame Flora (Jill Melford) but once the whores in her employ indulge in what Hyde's weaker persona sees as blasphemy, he leaves. Instead, Hyde finds Susannah (Sarah Maur-Thorp), a beautiful prostitute who inspires in him memories of his childhood, the kind of memories that tie into that opening scene.


And then the prostitutes that populate London's east end, where Jekyll has set up shop, start turning up dead.


This one deserves a bigger audience than it seems to get. Perkins is great in the dual role, he gets to do the meeker, milder thing with Jekyll and then go over the top as Hyde, both traits he's shown he can do well as an actor. His accent might be a bit dodgy in spots but the script plays to his strengths and gives him plenty of screen time while the makeup effects employed to transform him into his darker self are effective and eerie. There's a lot of great set design here as well, some very impressive use of color and some effective locations employed throughout the movie (most of it was shot in Hungary). As such, we get lots of atmosphere and a lot of very cool looking eye candy scattered about the film.


The story does an interesting job of adapting the Jack The Ripper mythos and turning it into a take on the Jekyll And Hyde legend while at the same time bringing it into what was, at the time it was made, the modern day. Fast paced and sleazy enough to hold our attention throughout, this one plays with some oddball themes and ideas in how the events from Jekyll's past probably shaped him - it never fleshes this out into anything all that substantial but watching it try is still plenty entertaining. It's a bit dated in its style, very much a product of the eighties, but there's a lot of flash on display here.


The Video:


Arrow Video brings Edge Of Sanity to Region A Blu-ray framed in 2.35.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition on a 50GB disc. Taken from a "Brand new 2K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative by Arrow Films," the picture quality here is very nice. The colors look great and black levels are nice and deep. The transfer avoids any noticeable crush or compression problems and the image retains the expected amount of film grain throughout. Detail is quite strong and there's virtually no print damage to note at all.


The Audio:


The only audio option for the feature is a 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. Quality of the track is strong. Dialogue remains clear and easy to follow throughout. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion and the levels are properly balanced.


The Extras:


Extras start off with a new audio commentary by writer David Flint and author and filmmaker Sean Hogan that goes over the film's explicitly Freudian opening scene and how that works with the Jekyll & Hyde story elements, the influence of giallo styled visuals on the movie, how the film compares to the original Jekyll & Hyde story, the way that the film deals with themes of drugs and addiction, details on pretty much all of the different cast and crew members involved with the production, the unusual male nudity featured in the film, where it seems like Kikoïne is enjoying directing the film versus where he seems to be losing interest, the quality of the performances in the picture, how the movie plays very loose with the Jack The Ripper elements and plenty more.


French Love is a career-spanning interview with director Gérard Kikoïne conducted in 2020 that runs for twenty-one minutes. He talks about how his father was in the film industry and worked on dubbing films for the French market and that got him his start in the business (specifically working on Hammer Horror films). From there he talks about his love of horror movies but also war films and fantasy pictures. From there, we learn how he got into directing, making adult pictures (which he refers to as "love films" because he loved making them, some of his early successes, working with Harry Alan Towers on some sexier content, how adult films now differ from the ones he made, some of the different talent that he worked with, how he came to make Edge Of Sanity, what it was like on set and more.


Staying Sane is a second piece with Gérard Kikoïne who discusses Edge Of Sanity in detail over the span of twenty-four minutes. He talks about how he was brought on board the British production by Harry Alan Towers and asked to direct, his thoughts on the script he was given to work off of, how he tried to make this a different version of the Jekyll and Hyde story, meeting Perkins for the first time and wanting to 'free Norman Bates' with the project, the makeup featured in the film, how and why certain scenes were shot the way they were, the production design in the film, working elements of the Jack The Ripper case into the story and plenty of other subjects related to the making of the movie.


Edward's Edge is an interview with producer Edward Simons that runs twelve minutes. He talks about how he first connected with Harry Alan Towers and how they came to work together on the picture, where some of the ideas for the storyline came from, needing to differentiate this production from the countless other Jekyll & Hyde movies, working with Perkins and befriending him, his contributions to the script, securing the locations for the film which was shot in Budapest, meeting the British Ambassador while working on the movie, inadvertently casting the daughter of his Godmother in the picture, and other details on working with the cast and crew.


Over The Edge, a brand new interview with Stephen Thrower, author of Nightmare USA, runs twenty-six minutes. It is essentially a dissection of the film and its history, going over the film's original working title, Towers' involvement in it, what makes the film unique, the locations, Kikoïne's history in French sex films and what makes them interesting, the themes and ideas that the movie explores, who did what in terms of producing the film, Perkins' life and career as well as the importance of his presence in the movie, the film's unique look and fashions and how it is very much a product of the eighties, the quality of the visuals and the art design and how he feels about the movie overall.


Jack, Jekyll And Other Screen Psychos is a new interview with Dr. Clare Smith, author of Jack The Ripper In Film And Culture, the runs for twenty-nine minutes. She covers the details of the real life Jack The Ripper case, how it coincided with the rise of the newspaper industry, the locations that were important to the case, the different suspects that were considered, the different media adaptations of the Jack The Ripper case that have been made over the years and how they differ from the facts of the case, how the case has morphed into its own entertainment industry over the years, the victims of Jack The Ripper and how they've been treated in different adaptations and her thoughts on Edge Of Sanity.


Finishing up the extras are an original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. Arrow packages the disc with some reversible cover sleeve art and, for the first pressing, a color insert booklet containing an essay on the film as well as credits for the feature and the Blu-ray release.


Overall:

Edge Of Sanity holding up well as a seriously effective horror picture. Arrow has done a nice job with the presentation and loaded the disc with interesting extras features. Perkins fans should snap this up post haste. Recommended!

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.

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