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Drive-In Double Feature: The Jekyll & Hyde Portfolio/A Clockwork Blue

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    Ian Jane
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  • Drive-In Collection: The Jekyll & Hyde Portfolio/A Clockwork Blue (DVD & Blu-ray Review)



    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: April 8th, 2014.
    Director: Eric Jeffrey Haims
    Cast: Rene Bond, Suzanne Fields, Maria Arnold, Ric Lutze
    Year: 1971/1972
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movies:

    Vinegar Syndrome unleashes two exploitation rarities from the filmography of Eric Jeffrey Haims, shot in the early seventies and with a few familiar faces in the casts of both pictures. Here's a look…

    The Jekyll & Hyde Portfolio:

    The first feature is a period piece that starts off with some fantastic opening credits in which blood runs down weird hand drawn portraits of famous murderers through the ages. From there we kick into a scene in which a pretty brunette plays alone on a swing in the countryside. As she yelps out 'WEEEEEEEEEEE' over and over again and some weird circus music swells up on the soundtrack someone off camera wields a pitchfork. Before you know it, the unfortunate young woman is dead, fake blood poured sloppily across her torso, her ample bosom exposed for the camera.

    It turns out that this woman was a student at the Florence Nightingale Institute, a nursing school. We learn in the next scene that the man in charge, Dr. Dorian Cabala (Sebastian Brook), insists that his students were specific gowns with absolutely no undergarments underneath. Hear nurse Hettie (Casey Larrain) explains all of this in no uncertain terms to a new student who she leers at. Is Hettie a lesbian? You know it. If this were a woman's prison, she'd be the head warden. She has that vibe about her. At any rate, Detective Lieutenant John Kinkaid (Donn Greeg) is on the case with some help from Sargent Martin Wolf (Gray Daniels). This crime fighting duo interrogate some of the students (one of whom is the lovely Rene Bond), the creepy cleaver loving cook and an instructor named Dr. Carter (John Terry) who loves to dissect frogs but they can't quite figure out who the killer is. Of course, soon enough another body appears and everyone starts to wonder if the hunchbacked handyman Moss (played by someone credited as Hump Hardy!) might be the culprit. After all, he hangs out in the basement where it's all creepy and stuff.

    A half hour or so of more fake blood and exposed breasts later, our top cops start to close in… but will they catch the killer before he or she strikes again? And what of the strange V-shaped pattern evident on the torsos of all of the killer's victims?

    Notoriously hard to see and nuttier than a fruitcake, The Jekyll & Hyde Portfolio will deservedly draw comparisons to the no budget gothic sex and blood soaked soap operas of Andy Milligan and to be sure, he and Haims share a similar cheap, trashy aesthetic. Where Milligan had a penchant for melodrama, however, Haims shows a knack for veiled attempts at suspense. They won't really work, but you get the impression that he's trying to create some scares here. The movie starts off great, that opening murder set piece is ridiculous, but it slows down a bit in the middle. We get a few nude scenes to keep things interesting, including one from Amazonian blonde Nora Wieternik, but some tighter editing might have helped too. The payoff though? The last twenty minutes or so brings things back to Whatthefucksville in a pretty serious way. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, mind you, but it's fun once we get there.

    In addition to Wieternik and Rene Bond, we also get Ric Lutz and Sandy Carey in supporting roles. Bond is underused in a sense but her character is important. Casey Larrain sort of sounds like Michael Findlay when she talks, she has that sort of nasal disenchanted tone even when rubbing up on a foxy student. The two guys who play the two cops are pretty hokey but John Terry as the science teacher is nutty and fun to watch, even if the frogs he dissects are very definitely real and not entirely dead while he's working on them. All in all, if you're into low budget horror the skews towards the sleazy side, you'll appreciate this West Coast rarity for the gleefully sleazy cheapie that it is, even if those looking for a more literal take on the Jekyll & Hyde story that the picture borrows from might not.

    A Clockwork Blue:

    Made a year later, A Clockwork Blue begins when a nebbish Jewish guy and a black dude head to Heaven together. After a bit of back and forth the black guy settles down with a watermelon and the Jewish guy, named Homer, deals with his mother who speaks sort of like the teachers do in a Charlie Brown cartoon except at a faster pace and a higher pitch. With this out of the way, he uses this weird spinning wheel contraption to travel through time and observe and/or participate in erotic couplings throughout history. The black guy watches from heaven, his watermelon acting as some sort of television device? Not really sure what's going on there…

    His first stop? George Washington and his pal Paul Revere decide to enjoy some smoke and visit a house of ill repute where Betsy Ross sets down the flag she's working on to service George while Paul hops into bed with some other chick. Not a word to Martha! As the movie continues, we witness similar scenarios with Marie Antoinette and Anthony and Cleopatra. Oh and we visit some horny Vikings and equally horny Romans as well. It turns out that everyone in history was horny at some point, which is a fair enough observation when you think about it.

    If softcore bumping and grinding and groan inducingly bad comedy is your thing, A Clockwork Blue out to cure what ails you. It's a fairly horrible movie and appears to have been shot entirely on a low rent sound stage. The props are hokey, the costumes rented from a neighborhood costume shop and the dialogue, my God… the dialogue. Have you ever seen a comedy that's so unfunny that it somehow transcends all that humor is to once again become funny again? This movie occasionally does that. Someone somewhere signed off on this script but what they were thinking is anyone's guess.

    And yet despite the fact that this movie is truly awful, it's watchable enough. It has its own stupid charm and there is an endearing nativity to this mess of a picture that will appeal to a few intrepid viewers. As far as the sex goes, it's softcore but moderately well shot. Rene Bond pops up in this one as well and looks quite nice in her costume (and out of it as well) and be on the lookout for an appearance from Joe E. Tata, better known as Nat Bussichio from Beverly Hills 90210!

    Note: There is a hardcore version of the Clockwork Blue available as well by way of a limited edition Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome. Only a thousand pieces were pressed and then hand numbered releases are sold out from their website. At the time of this writing, there will be a few copies available at upcoming convention appearances yet to be determined. The plot is the same, but the sex scenes in the X-rated cut are obviously more explicit and there are some alternate shots in the feature as well. And if you scroll all the way down... you'll find some screen caps from that release.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Jekyll & Hyde Portfolio debuts on DVD in 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen in a transfer taken from the 35mm internegative. It's a grainy movie and there's some print damage evident throughout but never to the point where it takes you out of the movie. Detail is pretty good regardless and colors look nice, especially that bright, brash fake blood that is used in the murder scenes. A Clockwork Blue, on the other hand, looks pretty fantastic in 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transferred from the 35mm negative. The elements used were in excellent condition and while there is a scratch or two here and there, for the most part the transfer is as clean and as colorful as you could hope for - it looks great, the colors really pop and the detail is impressive. Of course, the AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer on the Blu-ray release is better in every way that a Blu-ray transfer should be better than a DVD transfer. there's no noise reduction and the disc's high bit rate avoids obvious compression issues. There's more depth and texture to the image as well. The second feature benefits in more obvious ways than the first as the materials were obviously in better shape but both movies transfer to high definition surprisingly well.

    Both movies get the Dolby Digital Mono treatment, in English with no alternate language options or subtitles provided. Jekyll & Hyde has some crackle and some noticeable hiss throughout but it doesn't bury the performers or anything. Levels are properly balanced and the score sounds good. A Clockwork Blue sounds better, it's cleaner and has a bit more depth to it. Audio on the Blu-ray is handled by a DTS-HD Mono track for each film and there's marginally better fidelity here than on the DVD release.

    Extras are limited to static menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Vinegar Syndrome's DVD release of Drive-In Double Feature: The Jekyll & Hyde Portfolio/A Clockwork Blue is devoid of any extras but it does offer up two ridiculously hard to find movies in pretty decent shape transferred from the best elements available. As to the merits of the films themselves? They're not the type to appeal to the masses but if you like your pictures cheap and dirty and with varying degrees of sex, blood and bad comedy, you'll get a kick out of these films.

    DVD Screen Caps!














































    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!









































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