I, Monster 1971


Considering that it stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, and is a product of the Amicus studio, there’s not a lot of love around for Stephen Weeks’ 1971 reworking of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Lee himself is quite disparaging about the result, noting the choppy editing and the mystifying decision not to use the names of Jekyll and Hyde, but retaining all the other characters from Stevenson’s novella (Utterson, Poole) verbatim. But while most versions play fast and loose with the structure of the original text, I Monster is remarkably faithful, with letters, forged signatures and most of the incidents transposed carefully to the screen. Lee also plays the doctor with surprising subtlety; a decision was clearly made to have the transformation take place gradually; after the first dosage, Dr Marlowe just walks around his laboratory with a goofy grin on his face. I, Monster is a solid version of a classic tale, and worth seeing to get a sense of the social strictness that Stevenson’s story attacks.


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