I've been watching a lot of horror movies lately. Don't worry, I don't
think that is due to any strange dementia on my part. It's just that
horror movies are the one genre that I seem to have either missed or
sometimes avoided through my years. One reason horror movies never
interested me is that horror movies are supposed to be frightening. But
I came upon few that actually were that. Most of them were just boring.
There were a few good ones, in particular the original The Legend of
Hell House (1973), with Pamela Franklin and Roddy McDowall. That one
was downright creepy and very frightening at the end. With a few more
exceptions perhaps (and I would have to think hard to remember those)
most creature movies, slasher flicks, and ghost stories didn't do
anything for me.
There seem to be a bevy of creature movies come out recently, especially
of the vampire and werewolf sub-genre. I sometimes wonder what the root
of the cultural obsession with vampires is these days. Perhaps that is a
topic for another post. As for the ghost stories they all seem to be influ-
enced by current Asian horror movies, where extremely quick cuts that are
supposed to be frightening substitute for lack of story. Call me a bit old
fashioned maybe, but to me a good ghost story should be the reverse —
slow and sustained to draw out every creepy second. The above-mentioned
The Legend of Hell House is definitely of that type.
Most of the new slasher/psycho flicks are just plain brutal, if not sadistic.
Hostel was pretty much sadistic, as well as its sequel, and also High Intensity.
Then there is the French Frontier(s), a movie so barbaric that I had to
stop watching it midway through. Which is very unusual for me — let's
just say that the "suspension of belief" part of my brain doesn't work
very well and that I can take just about anything knowing that it is,
after all, just fiction.
So. I've been watching horror movies, usually late at night on cable.
The other night I suddenly remembered a movie that I saw way back in
the 90s called Edge of Sanity (1989). The movie is a retelling of the
Stevenson Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde story. There are many versions of
this tale, most of which are mediocre. Mary Reilly (1996), based upon
the novel by Valerie Martin, is an exception. It is excellent. So to my
mind is Edge of Sanity. The movie stars Anthony Perkins as Dr.
Jeckyll. It is very stylish — Jeckyll's laboratory has an almost New
Wave look to it in spite of a solid Victorian context elsewhere. It is
the traditional story with a few elements thrown in from the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, as well as some dark humor.
One of my favorite movie lines is from Edge of Sanity. In one scene
Mr. Hyde is roaming the streets, looking for the types of sordid or
murderous things Mr. Hyde traditionally looks for. He runs into a
prostitute and they have a brief conversation, at the end of which the
prostitute says to Hyde "this must be your lucky day." Dr. Hyde looks at
her, half smiling, half grimacing. "My…lucky…day?" he says to her.
Perkins delivers the line so incredibly well. From the context you get
the feeling that Mr. Hyde will soon be taking a scalpel to the prostitute;
but there is dark humor thrown in. Creepy and wonderful at the same
I can't hear that line — "my lucky day" — without thinking of Perkins
and the movie.
Since then I've always been a bit suspicious of lucky days; and prefer
not to have them.
Excellent horror movie. Highly recommended.
Scream king Anthony Perkins.