From director William Cain, the man who brought us the classic 'Blacula', which I must re-watch and discuss with you one day, comes one of the more obscure features of the Blaxploitation era with 'Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde'. A title I guess that could be somewhat offensive considering the man's name is actually Dr. Pride and he just happens to be a black doctor, but hey… it's seventies exploitation cinema so I guess the word Black has to be somewhere in the title.
Dr. Henry Pride (Bernie Casey) is a good man doing great work in the field of biogenetics. Along with his colleague and lady love Dr. Billie Worth (the late Rosalind Cash), these two are on the cusp of a Nobel Peace Prize. But not only is Dr. Pride a good doctor, he's also good for the community. In fact, he often goes down to the free clinic / thrift shop… it's complicated… to give free treatments to the folks in the hood. In particular he's treating Linda the Prostitute (Marie O'Henry) who likes to sit in his office topless, even though it seems completely unnecessary for the treatment she is receiving.
Finally, a breakthrough. Dr. Pride has found a way to regenerate liver cells, his passion project since his mom died of liver failure. Odd thing though… the rats he tried his concoction on all turned white then murdered every other rat in the cage. Now being a bit of a scientist myself, I see that as problem and maybe this formula needs some tweaking. Dr. Pride on the other hand sees this merely as a function of physiology and that he should start human tests immediately. So after some wrangling with his colleague on the ethics of human testing and one failed human test, Dr. Pride decides to test his formula on himself… and now Mr. Hyde is born!
Now about Mr. Hyde… and might we mention that the Hyde effects were created by no less a luminary than the late, great Stan Winston… But Mr. Hyde looks like Dr. Pride only with a bigger forehead and the look of a mutant albino. However to the people in the hood, he looks
like a white guy. So when Dr. Pride shows up searching for Linda the Prostitute and asks some brothers on the street where the club is, and when they start wondering why whitey is in their neighborhood, I was a little confused. Now if they had asked why Mutie was in their neighborhood, that would've made sense to me. Mr. Hyde kicks their ass by the way. Also, Mr. Hyde goes to the club and just lays people waste, because Mr. Hyde is pretty darned confrontational and badass, then he runs out of the club with pimps and killers on his tail, but fortunately he turned back to Dr. Pride. Now yes, they look the same, and he was wearing the same clothes, but those pimps and killers are obviously dumb. Foiled again!
Dr. Pride has really taken an interest in Linda the Prostitute. They even go on a semi date kind of, where Dr. Pride takes Linda to a huge ex-whore house where his maid mother used to work. This is relevant because the scene is long as hell with Bernie Casey delivering the longest soliloquy in any movie I've ever seen him in, and also it establishes why, very soon, Mr. Hyde will go on a prostituting murdering rampage. Also, while previous Dr. Jekyll's always hated their Mr. Hyde's, Dr. Pride is completely down with his alter ego and his murdering ways it would seem.
Regardless, Mr. Hyde and his prostitute murdering, and his relentless stalking of Linda the Prostitute has to end ,and Super Cop Lt. Jackson (Ji-Tu Cumbuka) is on the case! And some other white cop, but we don't care about him because he doesn't use words like 'insalubrious' while chasing albino mutants. That's awesome, and my vocabulary has been augmented. Thanks Lt. Jackson! A King Kong styled shootout on top of the Watts Towers looms.
We have to admit that 'Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde' was one of the more staid blaxploitation horror joints we've seen, lacking the energy of say something like 'Abby' or 'J.D.'s Revenge'. Bernie Casey, as per usual, was awesome in this movie bring that stoic super hardcore cool that only he can bring to the scene, Rosalind Cash was pretty much relegated to little more than a hood ornament considering Marie O'Henry and her boobs has to do all the heavy actress lifting, and she handled it well, it's just that movie itself moved too slow and got bogged down in a lot of minutia that made it difficult to get rolled up into having any fun with it. Plus it took itself way too seriously.
But on the brighter side, my DVD came with a bunch of trailers of Blaxploitation throwaways, mostly notable due the fact that every single one of them had a pimped voice announcer that rhymed everything. A screaming Demon Rages inside, which turn him into Mr. Hyde! A monster he cannot control has taken over his very soul! His victim thinks she's tricked him, but she hasn't a prayer when he leaps through the air! Obviously, African American film goers of the 1970's didn't go see a movie unless the trailer rhymed. Anyway, as far as blaxploitation goes, and while competent, which is saying something, we have seen better. Maybe Blackenstein will be cued up next.