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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde (1976)

Blaxploitation movies dipped a lot into the horror genre putting their own unique takes on them. This is the first one that I’ve covered for the site, but it won’t be the last. Here we have a doctor named Henry Pryde. He is a successful doctor and researcher who still takes time to volunteer at a free clinic. Though one of his regular patients, Linda, accuses him of just feeling guilty about being so rich. We also see that Pryde is working on a formula to regenerate liver tissue. His mother drank herself to death and he hasn’t gotten over that. 

You can probably guess what happens next. Pryde’s formula has side effects. The worst one is that it turns you white and homicidal! As the story plays out we are told that Pryde’s mother was a cleaning lady at a brothel and when she collapsed he went looking for help but none of the ladies would open their door to him. So, when he gets all crazed killer, he targets working girls and their pimps for his wrath. Did I mention that Linda is a working girl? She ends up on his list but the cops show up in the nick of time to save the day. 

This movie has an interesting take on the story that I rather liked. The motivation for Pryde going after prostitutes didn’t make much sense as he went from wanting to experiment with is drug to lets just kill people. But then the movie, in an excellent bit of writing, lets you in on why when he loses control, he targets them. Unfortunately, the writing also is very flawed. First up there isn’t a whole lot of story to fill up the runtime. So, there is a lot of talky bits as Pryde does science stuff with his assistant. There is also a lot of Linda and her friend’s kids that doesn’t do anything to serve the actual plot. 

It also bugged me that they do their best to setup Pryde as a smart guy. But then after seeing the serum turn a rat into a killer that wipes out everything in its cage as well as turning a very sick woman nuts and having her attack a nurse, he still injects himself. I’m pretty sure that he would have realized there were issues. Toss in the fact that at sometimes he is bulletproof and other times when it serves the plot he suddenly isn’t! They had the makings of a cool movie here but just failed to deliver on it. 

Bernie Casey seems like a good choice to cast as the lead. He normally is good in whatever role he was cast in. I’m not sure if it was just a poor choice on how to portray the character or if he was just phoning it in but he isn’t very good. There isn’t much effort put into bringing Pryde to the screen and the performance feels flat. The one exception to this is when he is relating to Linda what happened to his mother. He nails that scene which makes the rest of his performance rather disappointing. The rest of the cast is decent, but nothing terribly memorable. 

The makeup on Casey when he turns into Hyde is simple but very effective. We get some pale skin, contacts to make the eyes weird looking, and a dusting of white in his hair. Again, it is very simple, but also creepy. He is also a large man so when he is all “monstered” out it is intimidating and effective. It wasn’t until I was watching the credits that I realized this makeup was the handywork of the late great Stan Winston! 

Dr. Black Mr. Hyde isn’t a terrible movie, but it is disappointing. There was potential here but they somehow missed the boat. Still if you are a fan of Blaxploitation movies, especially horror ones, this is probably worth a watch. Though unlike Blacula or Abby, I can’t see myself in a hurry to watch it again. With that lukewarm recommendation I’m out. 

© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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