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I, Monster (1971)

Despite the change of title and the names of the main characters, I, Monster is probably the most faithful screen adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.

In 19th Century London, psychologist Dr Charles Marlowe (Christopher Lee) researches a new serum that releases inhibitions, using his patients (and his cat) as guinea pigs. Fascinated by Freud’s theories about the id, ego and super-ego – and with nobody left to experiment on – he ultimately decides to experiment with the drug on himself

Marlowe thus becomes the murderous and evil Edward Blake, stalking prostitutes and killing with ease.

It’s a mystery that none of Marlowe’s friends recognises Blake as the same person (his makeup is minimal), but apparently, only his friend and lawyer Frederick Utterson (Peter Cushing) can solve this mystery.

DJ Mike Raven turns up in an unintentionally amusing role as a doctor who sits back and occasionally comments on the action.

Filmed at Shepperton Studios, this Amicus production is leisurely paced (to say the least) and very dialogue-heavy. It was also originally filmed in 3D (later abandoned), which explains the puzzling camera angles and objects flying at the camera.

Christopher Lee is front and centre here and gives a very commanding performance as the curious and refined Marlowe. When he adopts scruffy hair and oversized teeth for the wicked Mr Blake, he seems to be genuinely enjoying himself. In fact, it’s rare to see a film where Christopher Lee smiles so much.

Watch out for future Blue Peter presenter Lesley Judd as “Woman in Alley”.

Dr Charles Marlowe/Edward Blake
Christopher Lee
Frederick Utterson
Peter Cushing
Mike Raven
Richard Hurndall
George Merritt
Kenneth J. Warren
Susan Jameson
Marjie Lawrence
Aimée Delamain

Stephen Weeks