Read More about Blu-ray Review: ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ makes a foundation for cinematic horror
During the silent era, the reinvention of visual horror allowed filmmakers and producers to experiment in film techniques that would become a mainstay in the genre’s mode of expression. Many of these relied heavily on makeup (Frankenstein, Dracula) or early pioneering special effects (The Haunted Castle, The Phantom Carriage), but some relied on more human sensibilities. Mere movement and facial expressions dominate the horrific tone in F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, Max Schreck’s grotesque, almost Korinian features have remained a cornerstone of vampiric imagery for nearly a century. In the same vein, John Barrymore has managed a horror portrait in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that has left John S. Robertson’s vision of the Robert Louis Stevenson story a target for restoration and preservation against countless other Jekyll remakes. Barrymore’s future star power is present in his depiction of the familiar transformation scene — overacting by today’s standards perhaps, but the contortions and physical limits he is willing to break in order to make the change memorable has itself solidified Robertson’s interpretation as a milestone in early horror.