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Dr. Jekyll to Hunt Jack the Ripper in New Adaptation

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An upcoming movie featuring Dr. Jekyll and his evil alter ego Mr. Hyde, which uses Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella as a leaping-off point, has acquired a new screenwriter. According to The Wrap, Albert Torres (“Henry Poole Is Here,” the upcoming “Akira”) is rewriting the script for the film based on the Cole Haddon-penned Dark Horse comic book series, “The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde.” Haddon was initially hired to adapt his comic.

In Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Dr. Jekyll commits suicide and is found in the contorted body of Mr. Hyde, in which monstrous simian form he had conducted his depredations in Victorian London.

Jekyll’s death didn’t deter Haddon and artist M.S. Corley, however, when they launched their four-part comic in April 2011. In Haddon’s tale, Jekyll, located in prison, teams up — “Silence of the Lambs”-style — with Inspector Thomas Ayde of Scotland Yard to track down Jack the Ripper. The five serial killings ascribed to Jack took place in 1888, but the fictional Adye (known as Colonel Adye in H.G. Wells’s “The Invisible Man” where he originated) captured the wrong man. Jack, who uses an improved version of Jekyll’s transformative serum, is still on the loose. Manacled and guarded (like a prototype for Hannibal Lecter), Jekyll lends a friendly hand, revealing new secrets about himself as he does so.

The movie is being produced by Dark Horse Entertainment, Skydance Productions, and the Mark Gordon Company. It’s unlikely any announcements will be made regarding the choice of director or casting until the script is in shape.

Corley admits to being greatly influenced by the Universal horror films of the 1930s and ’40s, though the genre updates produced by the British company Hammer in the 1950s and ’60s were a specific influence on “The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde.”

“They had a huge impact,” he told The Toonari Post. “In fact, there is a Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee cameo in the [comic book] series if you look very carefully. It was always the intention to draw inspiration from the films that had such an impact on me as a child, to somehow reintroduce that feeling, that love of Gothic horror to a reader who might not be all that familiar with it.”

Corley also drew on Warner Bros.’s 3D Vincent Price vehicle “House of Wax” (1953) and said he goes “all the way back to Michael Curtiz’s ‘Mystery of the Wax Museum’ [1933] – which is an old, two-color inspiration for the ‘House of Wax.’”

“Because [our] film goes hand-in-hand with the comic book,” he noted, “it was important that there were set pieces that people would recognize and would be exciting to see on the screen, and Madame Tussauds was one of those just for what it offered in terms of action, in terms of being able to actually have a visual representation of what the popular idea of what Hyde is.”

When the Mr. Hyde movie was announced in July 2010, prior to the comic’s unveiling at Comic-Con, Haddon said, “Mr. Hyde is one of my favorite literary villains, but he hasn’t been given his due on the big screen for the better part of a century.”  Read my less gloomy assessment on adaptations of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and Stevenson’s other work here.

Images from top: Cole Haddon and M.S. Corley’s Dr. Jekyll, comicsgrinder.com; Robert Louis Stevenson, Wikipedia

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