Doctor, Doctor, Got a Bad Case of Killing You

It’s not only that Jack Hyde and Henry Jekyll (Anthony Perkins) murders prostitutes across a steamy Victorian London. Edge of Sanity takes the premise further, emboldening a hyper-conservative worldview where the crimes include sacrilege, sex, and drugs.

Perkins’ delirium sells a film on par with Reefer Madness, only built post-Richard Nixon’s drug war. Potent cocaine turns Jekyll from stable doctor to a ferocious addict and regular at a nearby brothel. The madness isn’t limited to sex, but perverse acts in front of crosses and women in sexualized nun outfits. By the end, Edge of Sanity suggests homosexuality, a line too far for this adaptation being of the ‘80s.

Edge of Sanity’s relentlessness goes so far as to be off-putting

Escalating the Hammer Studio mold, the driven R-rated (or unrated) content spares little, even when considered against the slasher films that defined the 1980s. Hammer employed blood and skimpy clothing; Edge of Sanity’s relentlessness goes so far as to be off-putting. At the center is the fictionalized conceit that Jack the Ripper held a split-personality psychosis, but one fueled entirely by cocaine binges and scientific experimentation. Both Nixon and Reagan would approve.

In a grand speech, Jekyll can no longer contain his madness during a crowded dinner party, and celebrates his defiance against God’s morals. The table is in shock; Jekyll shows a demented smile. Science no longer excites him. He’s lost, a man driven by bloody lust and his next fix, which increase in severity.

Wild as this is, Edge of Sanity struggles to keep pace. Perkins is a lone wolf in this cast, enjoyably maniacal as meandering side characters attempt to solve murders of which the audience already knows the perpetrator of. When at its peak, the feeling isn’t a twisted thrill or fear, but total discomfort as women plead for help while blood splatters across the frame, vividly red. French director Gerard Kikoine injects the visual style with exotic, twisting, zooming camerawork, predicting the ‘90s infatuation with replicating music video aesthetics.

Edge of Sanity became the first in a cycle too, trying to energize icons from horror cinema/literature, followed by Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Both of the latter utilized notable extremes, if not so far as to Edge of Sanity’s uncontrolled hell. At least Perkins is flawlessly cast.

Video

An aggressive cinematography style favors crushing blacks and clipping highlights, yet still allowing Edge of Sanity breathing room in terms of depth. It’s beautifully calibrated to maintain the technique while providing exceptional range. Slightly faded color conveys the vintage aesthetic, remaining appealing and saturated slightly. Flesh tones are especially appealing, as are the vivid red brothel lights.

Arrow’s encode struggles against a heavier grain structure, inconsistent enough to cause artifacts. Rarely is Edge of Sanity wholly film-like, revealing the digital side, yet maintaining enough from the source to look well textured. Definition runs high, especially in close, and artifacting’s effects prove minimally invasive. A modern, reasonably high-res scan from the film stock comes from a clean print, suffering minimal damage or dirt specks.

Audio

Minimized in the mix, the score sounds oddly subdued, as if range were pinched. There’s no depth, and treble barely reaches a notable peak. Elevated dialog comes across as nearly out of place, and in addition, lightly strained.

Stereo effects often come into play though, bouncing the score around the stereos to suggest delirium. Horse drawn carriages pan to the sides in a natural motion. There’s space in this PCM track.

Extras

Commentary work comes from David Flint and Sean Hogan. Director Gerdard Kikoine is up first in the interview segments, speaking for 21-minutes, and in another, chats for an additional 24-minutes. Producer Edward Simmons comes next for 12-minutes. Author Stephen Thrower explores the film in a 26-minutes bonus. Finally, Dr. Clare Smith examines the history of split personality films in a deep look that runs 28-minutes.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Edge of Sanity
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Movie

Anthony Perkins is an evil delight in the Hammer-esque throwback Edge of Sanity, devilishly sexual and saturated by drugs.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 33 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: