October 30, 2015 — There is a reason that certain stories scare people for generations and continue to resonate through the years.
They are just that good — and that scary.
One of the most successful horror stories ever written is Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (originally called Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde). It is, of course, the tale of an ordinary doctor whose scientific experiments cause him to live part time with a second personality — that of the violent and sociopathic Mr. Hyde who commits a series of horrible and soulless crimes.
Kindly Dr. Jehyll would turn into the immoral Mr. Hyde through drinking a potion he had devised in his own laboratory. The differences in the “two” men are so great that this dual existence continues for years without anyone fathoming what is happening, and apparently Dr. Jekyll found becoming Mr. Hyde a way of releasing the inner devils he could not indulge as himself. But when Jekyll finally realizes that he is no longer in control of the situation — which he learns after he spontaneously starts to transform, not as a result of drinking the potion.
Realizing that ultimately he would change permanently into Mr. Hyde, Dr Jekyll ends the story by committing suicide.
People have argued if the story really is about drug use, the phenomena of a split personality, or just the duality of man’s nature. But whichever view anyone subscribes to, the story is remarkable in its ability to continue to reach audiences. Written in 1886, the story will soon be 130 years old. Oddly, Robert Louis Stevenson, the Scottish writer, would otherwise have been mostly remembered for his classic children’s stories Treasure Island and Kidnapped and his book of children’s poems, A Child’s Garden of Verses.
In addition to the story’s brilliance, it is also a part that most actors seem to want to take on. The first play version was mounted in 1887; the performance by actor Richard Mansfield was considered so good that he played it for twenty years, until his death.
On film, there were numerous silent versions; the most famous was the 1920 John Barrymore version in which he was considered brilliant.
Just a few of the sound versions are: 1931, starring Frederick March; 1941, starring Spencer Tracy; 1971, (called I, Monster) starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing; 1996, starring Julia Roberts (called Mary Reilly). which tells the story from the point-of-view of a servant in the house.
In 1990, move great and Academy Award-winner Sir Michael Caine took on the role in this made-for-television version.
Celebrate Halloween by watching Jekyll And Hyde and a huge selection of classic and modern horror titles on FilmRise.