Daughter of Dr. Jekyll (Edgar G. Ulmer / U.S., 1957):

"Not the Dr. Jekyll?!" The heiress on the cusp of adulthood (Gloria Talbott) returns home with fiancé (John Agar) in tow, her guardian (Arthur Shields) knew her father and partook in his experiments. A Buñuelian delectation, "no self-respecting house was complete without a secret room and secret passageways," the manor has a laboratory behind its walls plus a well-stocked crypt in the garden. Were-vampires figure in the knowing horror jumble, with the alarmed heroine’s bestial side emerging via smudged reveries that leave her nightgown bloodstained. "This is the age of reason, not the age of superstition," exclaims the cloddish beau while the gloomy groundskeeper sharpens a long wooden stake. Nothing less than Coleridge’s "dark fluxion, all unfixable by thought" (Christabel) for Edgar G. Ulmer, foam and paste and deplorable maquettes and still the inexpressible poesy of haunted heritages. At last the metamorphosis that turns Shields’ Dublin lilt into a lupine growl, followed by a bravura voyeuristic composition (phonograph, village pin-up in stockings, dangling phone receiver) that claws into Coppola’s Dementia 13. (Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound is another beneficiary.) Quoth Dr. Sarris: "Anyone who loves cinema must be moved by Daughter of Dr. Jekyll, a film with a scenario so atrocious that it takes forty minutes to establish that the daughter of Dr. Jekyll is indeed the daughter of Dr. Jekyll." The opening jest is repeated at the close, the Ulmer wit like a fanged smile slicing through the fog. With John Dierkes, Molly McCart, and Martha Wentworth. In black and white.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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