B Movie Challenge: Daughter of Dr. Jekyll

It has been written on the interwebs (so it must be true) that when legendary writer Robert Louis Stevenson wrote his first draft of the seminal gothic novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that the manuscript was so scary he threw it right into the fireplace. As you get to the end of this film, part of you wishes the filmmakers had taken a chapter from his book! In the first thirty seconds of the film (if you made it that long, congratulations, you get a cookie) Mr. Hyde (through a dense fog on a low-rent soundstage, no doubt) asks the audience invariably “Are you sure?” I can only assume he is asking the audience whether they are sure they can continue watching the rest of the hour and sixteen minutes of the campy cult shlocker Daughter of Dr. Jekyll

The main issue with this motion picture potion is the storyline itself. Hard to follow, lackluster in going anywhere, and just plain pointless for a majority of the film, Although we do get some great cinematography and mise én scene, this can only be attributed to the greatness of the legendary director Edgar G Ulmer, the King of second B movies. Born in Germany, Ulmer was in great hands at the start of his career as a set designer for such classic German films like the nationally funded The GolemM, and Metropolis (just a few you maybe might have heard of) before he led into directing when he fled to the United States. However, the true mystery of this movie is why Ulmer, a man who produced a noir classic like Detour and was responsible for the greatest pairing of horror legends Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in the Universal thriller The Black Cat (like Stevenson, Poe’s version of that ended up in flames as well), ended his career helming duch dirty beasts like these! 

Poor Janet (♫Dammit! Janet! I love you ♫). Just when she thinks life is at its best, having gotten engaged to her hunky boo thing George, she finds out she is the daughter of the werewolf Dr. Jekyll (oh yeah, I forgot to let you know that Dr. Jekyll is a werewolf. Why? I have no freaking clue). Stunned by the news she puts her seemingly happy wedding bliss on hold until she can figure out how to handle the news. As she rests in the home of Dr. Lomas (played fiendishly by Irish actor Arthur Sheilds) her dreams make her wild and feel she might be hiding inside something that will make her bark at the moon. Her wild dreams lead her and George to find a secret laboratory where they learn the wild beast that roams their nightmare is Dr. Lamos! You may be wondering why a story with the basis of their Jekyll/Hyde storyline deals with silver bullets, full moons, and canine teeth, and truthfully… you’re not alone! As said before, if you get past the first thirty seconds, then you are in for a wild ride of duality with small houses filled with big antiques, wild performances, and the only movie where the werewolf dies by being steaked in the heart (drives home the point of how bad this movie is)!

Gulping down your throat at seventy-one minutes, Ulmer went on to do several not-so-classics like Murder is My Beat, The Amazing Transparent Man, and The Naked Venus but never was given the great material like before, yet got the last laugh when years later his projects were screened at the Museum of Modern Art and released on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection (good luck figuring out the menu). You can find this film online on most streamers but know that it’s not the best quality possible (lots of dust, lots of scratches, and lots of bad acting). So if you get to the last few minutes of the film, you will find Mr. Hyde asking you again “Are you sure?” but this time I think he’s asking if you can still feel your pulse, having survived such a wild(ly bad) werewolf/Jekyll/Hyde monstrosity of cinematic wonders!

About Ian Klink

As a filmmaker, writer, and artist, Ian Klink’s work includes the feature film Anybody’s Blues and short stories for Weren't Another Way to Be: Outlaw Fiction Inspired by Waylon Jennings, Negative Creep: A Nirvana-Inspired Anthology, A-Z of Horror: U is for Unexplained, The Creeps, Vampiress Carmilla, The Siren’s Call, and Chilling Tales For Dark Nights. Born and raised in Iowa, Klink lives with his family in Pennsylvania where he shares his talents as a teacher of multimedia studies.

View all posts by Ian Klink

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