Originally released in 1971 as Dr. Jekyll y el Hombre Lobo, Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf is the sixth film featuring the werewolf Count Waldemar Daninsky, played by the incomparable Paul Naschy. Although this movie suffers from a low budget, Naschy’s script is quite clever. Hardcore monsterhounds will really dig some of the ideas presented in the movie, although their execution suffers from mediocre special effects.
The story kicks off with Imre Kosta (Jose Marco) and his luscious wife Justine (Shirley Corrigan) discussing plans to visit Transylvania, Kosta’s birthplace. The couple drive out to Transylvania, where Kosta learns from a local barkeep (Bernabe Barta Barri) that the cemetery where Kosta’s parents are buried is considered haunted, as a nearby castle is supposedly owned by a witch. Kosta ignores the stories and, with Justine in tow, visits the cemetery.
It is while in the cemetery that a trio of thugs attempts to steal Kosta’s Jaguar. Kosta confronts the bandits, who proceed to stab him to death. The men then try to rap Justine, but she is saved by barrel-chested Daninsky (Naschy), who takes her to his castle, where he lives with its sole remaining female servant and a deformed man. While the “witch” attends to Justine, Otvos (Luis Induni) plots to raid Daninsky’s castle, thus killing the witch and taking the treasure he believes is hidden in the dungeon. Otvos manages to stir the local villagers into a frenzy, namely by decapitating the poor female servant, and the men start up the torches. However, it is a full moon and Daninsky happens to be a werewolf. Some carnage takes place, with the werewolf doing its thing, but Daninsky realizes that he must flee Transylvania.
Having now fallen for Daninsky, Justin yearns to help him. She locates her old friend Dr. Henry Jekyll (Jack Taylor), the grandson of the infamous doctor. Jekyll believes that he can cure Daninsky in a most novel way. Jekyll proposes to use the “Hyde Formula” on Daninsky. Hyde’s personality is so strong that it will overcome and destroy the werewolf personality. Once this personality is destroyed, Jekyll then plans to inject Daninsky with an antidote that will destroy the Hyde personality, leaving Daninsky free of both afflictions.
Although the formulas work and Daninsky is free, he is free for only a few minutes. The problem arises when Jekyll’s assistant Sandra (the vampiric-looking Mirta Miller) grows jealous of what she perceives as a relationship between Jekyll and Justine. She murders Jekyll and injects the Hyde Formula into Daninsky again, so that he can cause chaos throughout London. As the Hyde and werewolf personalities battle for supremacy, Justine prepares for a final battle, her revolver loaded with silver bullets.
Horror fans that enjoy monsters will really enjoy Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf. Although the makeup for Naschy’s werewolf is a little spotty, his makeup for Mr. Hyde is supreme, with Naschy’s physique ideally suited for the villain. Naschy’s acting is also of import, as his Daninsky character continues to reflect the personality of a meek Larry Talbot while his performance of Hyde is inspired, particularly his crazed facial expressions. Jack Taylor does not have much to do, but he turns in a respectable performance as Jekyll. The supporting cast are also good, particularly the females who really drive the bulk of the plot.
Director Leon Klimovsky does a really good job throughout the film, overcoming the low budget with some clever filmmaking. For example, Klimovsky handles the transformation scenes by using quick cuts, as well as strobe effects. The music by Anton Garcia Abril is a bit too jazzy and catchy for the atmosphere needed for a horror film, but it does work well during the nightclub sequence in which Naschy turns into a werewolf. Although there are onscreen kills, gore is kept minimal. There is some blood, as well as flesh in the mouth of the werewolf after some of his kills.
Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf was preceded by Fury of the Wolfman and followed on by Curse of the Devil. All these films have their merits, but Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf brings with it some nice twists to the monster genre that will impress many fans. It is a pity that Naschy and his company had to work with low budgets, but those with strong imaginations will find much to relish in Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf.