The Edge of Sanity - The Edge of Sanity(Blu Ray) [Arrow Video - 2022]
From the late 1980s, The Edge of Sanity is a mash-up between two Victorian horrors- one fictional & one real. It blends together the classic gothic tale Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and the still-unsolved 1888 serial killer case Jake the Ripper. The film features Psycho’s Anthony Perkins, as the switching between a mild-mannered Dr and depraved killer- it's a blend of period drama/ mystery and sleazily-edged horror. Here from Arrow Video, both in the UK and stateside, is a new blu ray release of the film, featuring a new 2k scan of the picture, a new commentary track, and a few extras.
Released in 1989 The Eye of Sanity was a British & Hungarian production- it was helmed by French-born Gérard Kikoïne, he had thirty-seven credits his name. These went from sex comedy Education of the Baroness (1977), to Rx for Sex (1980) an adult film regarding a gynaecologist giving up his job because women keep throwing themselves at him. Through to adult drama of Fire Under The Screen (1985), slave period drama Dragonard (1988), onto Buried Alive (1989) which was an 80’s set take on the classic Edger Alan Poe story featuring Robert Vaughn, Donald Pleasence, and John Carradine.
The film opens with a flash-back dream sequence, as we see a young boy spying on a man and woman getting down to it- in a haybarn. She’s all smiles, but when the man realizes what’s going on he pulls the boy down from where he’s watching and starts beating the boy upside down- suddenly Dr Henry Hyde (Perkins) awakes. beside him in his large and luxurious bed is his wife Elizabeth (Glynis Barber).
In his large London-based house, the walking with a cane Dr has a lab- where a monkey is chained up. He’s experimenting with it, feeding it some sort of white powder. One night some bottled fluid drops on said powder- and this causes smoke- which the Dr breaths in, and the once polite/ studious/ sleek back-haired Dr turns into Jack 'The Ripper' Hyde- a paler, lank mopish hair, and red-lined eyed figure
And so, Jack, with his glass drug pipe, goes out every night to find hookers and depravity, with a lot of it going on in a gold-lined whorehouse- where he meets bleach blonde-haired Johnny (Ben Cole) who later joins in the madman’s drug-taking/ and flesh abusing. Also, he starts murdering streetwalkers- with a few blood and brutal killings along the way.
The Edge of Sanity is rather a schizophrenic affair, switching between fair budgeted period drama/ police investigation, and campy to blood-splattered sleaze feast. As you’d expect Perkins is great in the dual role- moving between well-spoken and good at his job English doctor, and oily leering deep and blunt-voiced sleazed killer. The surrounding cast is largely good- with special mentions going to Cole as he slides into derangement as a sleaze seeker, and David Lodge as the doctor's concerned lawyer friend. The films just over one hour and a half-run time features moments of sleaze and violence- with one of the most memorable scenes taking place outside as a topless woman is pleasured, before being brutally slashed. I was always a fan of Perkin's performances in the Psycho series- but had only ever seen a few other of his film work, and I must say he shines here in his dual role which stands on its own away from his take on the Norman Bates's character.
Moving onto this Blu Ray- and the new 2k print is both nicely vibrate, and moody when it needs to be. On the extra front, we get a good enough selection of things, first of these is the new commentary track from writer David Flint and author and filmmaker Sean Hogan. The pair start off commenting on the opening scene which sees the director having a cameo, and how it starts off the film with Freudian nods & an almost Gallio vibe. As they move on, they discuss the addition of a wife character, in this and other Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde for screen adaptations, which wasn’t featured in the original novella- and why they think this character is added in. They talk about the novella in general and its meanings. Moving on they comment on the switches between the more formal period set parts of the film, and the more drug-addled/ club moments which feel very of the 80s. Later on, they discuss the other film version of the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, they comment on the supporting cast, and talk about the film's narrative twists. They talk about producer Harry Alan Towers, and apparently, Mr Flint met him in later life. It’s a great/ entertaining track- which is full of interesting observations/ facts.
Moving on with the new extras we get Over The Edge (26.18) which finds genre film expert/ writer Stephen Thrower discussing the film, and as we’ve come to expect from Thrower it’s most worthy. He starts by talking about why he feels the film was an original/ distinctive take on the classic tale. Moving on he talks about how the film was mainly shot in Budapest, with a few shots in London. He talks about how director Gérard Kikoïne met the film's producer and other things they worked on together. He discusses other films Perkin was making around the same time, and points out how he feels it carries on some of the themes/ imagery from his previous film Crimes of Passion, which was directed by Ken Russell. He talks about the switches between the Victorian era and the drugged-out 80’s goth vibe. Mentions some of the set design and its meanings, as well as an example of great shots in the film. Otherwise on the new extra side we Jack, Jekyll and Other Screen Psychos (28.37) which finds Dr Clare Smith, author of Jack the Ripper in Film and Culture, talking about the film.
On the archive side, we have French Love (21.12) an on-screen career-spanning interview with the director from 2020. Staying Sane (24.17) a 2020 interview with the director, focusing on the film to hand. And Ed’s Edge(12.06) on-screen interview with the film's other producer Edward Simons With the finished first edition of the release coming with an Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Jon Towlson
It’s wonderful to see this sleazed and depraved slice of late 1980s horror getting the Arrow Video treatment- with a nice new 2k scan for the film, and a worthy selection of both new and archive material on offer here.Roger Batty