Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:         

DR. JEKYLL AND THE WEREWOLF. Spain, 1972. Originally released as Doctor Jekyll y el Hombre Lobo. Paul Naschy, Shirley Corrigan, Jack Taylor, Mirta Miller. Story: Paul Naschy. Director: León Klimovsky.

   In Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf, the iconic Spanish horror star Paul Naschy reprises his role as the cursed Count Waldemar Daninsky, a man stricken with lycanthropy. In other words, he’s a werewolf. And like the cursed Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) of Universal Monsters fame, Daninsky is a brooding type, one who wishes nothing more than to escape the fate that the dark side of nature has seemingly imposed upon him.

   Naschy is a fine actor, portraying both the tragic Daninsky and the werewolf version of himself with a physicality rarely seen in horror movies made nowadays. But it’s not his portrayal of a werewolf that makes this Spanish horror film worth a look. Rather, it’s his portrayal of Mr. Hyde, that iconic villainous id first introduced to the world by Robert Louis Stevenson that sets this otherwise clumsy, occasionally sleazy, horror movie apart from derivative grindhouse fare.

   In a somewhat convoluted and admittedly silly plot – one that throws in horror trope after horror trope for good measure – Daninsky ends up in England where his new love Justine (Shirley Corrigan) introduces him to Dr. Henry Jekyll (Jack Taylor), grandson of the Victorian Era physician who unlocked the formula for dividing man into his good and evil halves. Jekyll thinks that he’s found a way to cure Daninsky of his curse. Amazingly, it involves turning Daninsky into Mr. Hyde and then using an antidote that will forever get rid of the lycanthropy and Mr. Hyde!

   As you might imagine, things don’t exactly go as planned, leaving the fiendish Mr. Hyde to embark upon a reign of brutal, sadistic terror. Naschy might very well be remembered for portraying one of cruelest, most unhinged versions of Dr. Hyde ever set to celluloid. Indeed, there are moments in the film – one scene in particular that involves Mr. Hyde torturing Justine – that are so far over the top and out of context from the rest of the movie that they actually serve to pull the viewer’s attention away from the narrative.

   That’s a shame, for Naschy’s Mr. Hyde is a truly memorable villain. The director could have done so much more with the natural talent he had on his hands, but instead seems to have gone for shock value galore over what could have been a much better, atmospheric horror film.