“Time spent with cats is never wasted”. Sigmund Freud
Dr. Charles Marlowe (Christopher Lee) is a psychologist in 19th century London. He is researching a new intravenous drug that he believes is capable of releasing one’s inhibitions. Dr. Marlowe believes that many mental illnesses are due to repressed inhibitions. Allowing the patient to confront these desires the patient can accept them and deal with them. He tries it on a few patients with mixed results.
He discusses his findings with some of his friends and associates, Frederick Utterson (Peter Cushing), Enfield (Mike Raven) and Dr. Hastie Lanyon (Richard Hurndall). They discuss Freud’s theories of psychoanalysis. Whether or not good and evil are inherent. Not wanting to subject his patients to excess experiments he tries the drug on himself. Marlowe’s reaction to the drug brings forth Mr. Blake. Each time he changes into Mr. Blake his physical appearance also starts to change. He is changing physically as well as personality wise. The more Marlowe takes the drug the more evil he becomes. And the more addicted to the drug.
His friend and lawyer Utterson believes Blake is a real person that is blackmailing Marlowe and taking over Marlowe's residence. Meanwhile Marlowe starts to transform to Blake without the use of the drug.
“I, Monster” was released in 1971 in the UK and 1973 in the US. It was directed by Stephen Weeks and was produced by Amicus Production. The movie is of course Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. The film has gotten a lot of flack about the script being tedious and boring and so that makes the movie tedious and boring. Perhaps there is some truth to that, however, I think that most of the problem is due to everyone being so saturated with Jekyll and Hyde movies. Just about everyone has either read the book or has seen a few of the various renditions of the movie put out by all the production companies. There have been over 40 different versions of the story on film alone from 1908 to 2017 and every variation on the theme from “The Nutty Professor” to “Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde”. Even Abbott and Costello have met them.
If you had never seen a Jekyll and Hyde movie you might have a different impression of the movie. Sir Christopher Lee plays the dynamic duo, which in this case are named, Dr. Marlowe and Mr. Blake. His performance is dazzling. As Dr. Marlowe he is uptight, prudish and somber. As Blake he is unsettlingly haunting and if you’ve never seen Lee smile, you’ll find out why. Although Cushing is not used to the extent he is capable of, the ending of the movie does have Lee and Cushing pitted against each other admirably.
Amicus has been compared a lot to Hammer Studios and usually in a somewhat positive way. Amicus has done some wonderful movies and some not so wonderful movies. Their production values are not quite as polished as Hammer, but in its hay day Amicus did manage to give Hammer a run for its money. What Amicus did well was anthologies. As for “I, Monster” I think that Amicus did a wonderful job and the first thing they did right was hire Sir Christopher Lee. If you want to enjoy this movie you need to do two things, pretend you never heard of Jekyll and Hyde and just watch Lee in action.
One other quick note, “I, Monster” was originally planned as a 3-D movie; however, the idea was abandoned.