Blu-ray Review: Edge of Sanity

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Anthony Perkins will always be known for being Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. The role stayed with him no matter what other projects came his way. In the ’80s, Perkins returned to The Bates Motel for a series of sequels. He was once again running around with knives slicing up the customers. In the middle of the character comeback, Perkins attempted to play two famous slashers in one film. Edge of Sanity twists the story of Dr. Jekyll so that he transforms into an historical killer.

The action opens in a barn where a young Henry Jekyll is hiding in a barn’s loft watching a couple hooking up in the hay. Things go bad when the kid is noticed. The man beats him while the woman laughs. Before things get too nasty and twisted, the flashback turns out to be a dream by an older and sweaty Dr. Jekyll. He acts like he didn’t have a bad dream to his wife. He just wants to get back to his human psyche research. As he works in is lab, he doesn’t mix up the usual chemicals. He put cocaine and ether together and gives it an extra boost with a bit of heat in a glass pipe. Dr. Jekyll is freebasing like Richard Pryor. But instead of catching himself on fire, Jekyll turns into a greasy Mr. Hyde. He cruises a few dens of sin in the Whitechapel area of London. What starts as a kinky encounter ends up a homicide as he cuts up a prostitute. He’s not merely Mr. Hyde, he’s Jack the Ripper. During the day, Jekyll returns to his normal job at the hospital and his wife. But at night he goes out to party as his pal Jack. The doctor finds himself checking out Jack’s work at the morgue. How long can he live as two men?

Edge of Sanity wasn’t a hit when it was released in the spring of 1989. Those who do remember it, thought it was a TV movie. The critics hated the film since it was rather violent. Director Gérard Kikoïne was known for his erotic French movies. The movie depicts the prostitutes as if they were in one of his films until Jack’s knives show up. They were also rather snide about Anthony Perkins as they compared the character to Norman Bates.

The film has improved because there’s autobiographical elements of Anthony Perkin’s life in the tale. After his death in 1992 biographies came out about how the actor was living a double life. He was gay and did his best to not be detected. He dated Tab Hunter for years. He knew what it was like to be two different people. He went through a gay conversion therapy that involved electroshock and other experiments to make him want to be with a woman. Like Jekyll, Perkins taking medical treatments to change. There’s a scene where he gets a guy who is cruising him to hit the pipe and find himself eager to be with a woman. He seems to be sharing the conversation therapy. Perkins died of AIDS related pneumonia in 1992 which makes the scenes of Jack Hyde and his victims coated in blood rather chilling. The tales of Jack the Ripper, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde might have been repeated hundreds of times, Edge of Sanity makes them feel torn from Anthony Perkins’ life.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer is sharp so you get to see all the Victorian action and the sweat on Anthony Perkins when he’s Jack Hyde. The audio is LPCM 2.0 stereo. The horse hooves clopping come through the speakers. The movie is subtitled in English.

Audio Commentary with David Flint and Sean Hogan. The two writers enjoyed the movie. They point out a Giallo edge to the film especially in the opening barn scene. They discuss the censorship battle to get the film cleared in certain countries. They also mention the rather wild director’s cameo.

French Love (21:12) interviews director Gerard Kikoine about his career. His father owned a dubbing studio that did English tracks for French movies being exported and French tracks for American and English films. He did sound editing for the French release of Hammer’s Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde. He liked Deliverance as a kid. A majority of his films are erotic and a few were for the Playboy Channel. He ended up making a historical drama with Oliver Reed that had weird story involved.

Staying Sane (24:17) is director Gerard Kikoine giving the details on the making of Edge of Sanity. Anthony Perkins was already attached to the project when he was asked to direct. He had to fly out to Hollywood to see if Perkins wanted him to helm the production. Perkins spoke French which made things nicer until he noticed Perkins had the knife from Psycho in the room.

Edward’s Edge (12:08) meets up with producer Edward Simons. He got onto the gig when producer Harry Alan Towers. They approached Anthony Perkins because he would be perfect for the split role.

Over the Edge (26:18) has author Stephen Thrower get into Edge of Sanity. He likes how the movie blends Mr. Hyde with Jack the Ripper. He sees it as a bigger spin than most adaptations. He points out how they shot part of the movie in Budapest.

Jack, Jekyll and Other Screen Psychos (28:37) lets Dr. Clare Smith discuss the depiction of Jack the Ripper in movies. She wrote Jack the Ripper in Film and Culture. There are almost as many Jack the Ripper films as there are Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde flicks.

Theatrical Trailer (0:59) has folks know Anthony Perkins would be both characters on the “cutting edge of terror.” We’re promised “a ripping good time.”

Arrow Video presents Edge of Sanity. Directed by Gerard Kikoine. Screenplay by J.P Felix and Ron Raley. Starring Anthony Perkins, Glynis Barber, David Lodge and Sarah Maur Thorp. Running Time: 91 minutes. Rated R. Release Date: June 21, 2022.

Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.