The Jekyll and Hyde Portfolio (1971)

When the seemingly accidental (if bizarre) death of Janet Pender (Cathie Demille) – who apparently flew off a rope swing onto the tines of a pitchfork – is determined to be murder when an additional V-shaped mutilation is discovered by the coroner, Detective John Kinkaid (Donn Greer, ALICE IN ACIDLAND) and Sgt. Martin Wolf (Gray Daniels, GALLERY OF HORROR) descend upon the “Florence Nightingale Institute” for training nurses. Although Dr. Cabala (Sebastian Brook) scoffs at the idea of a murderer on the loose, it isn’t long before a dark figure is stalking the halls and picking off the hornier pupils – each mutilated post-mortem with the same V symbol – and there is no shortage of suspects. Dr. Cabala himself has a reputation for sexual deviance, and also requires that his students wear no undergarments beneath their uniforms. Dr. Leticia Boges (Mady Maguire, A SCREAM IN THE STREETS) carries out experiments in her lab at night and is jealous of any woman her fiancé Dr. Mark Carter (John Terry) flirts with; but she ought to be more concerned for the girls since Carter enjoys dissecting live frogs (shown in truly revolting lingering detail that might even make diehard CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST fans avert their eyes) just a bit too much. Brilliant student Judy (Rene Bond, COUNTRY CUZZINS) skulks around in a hat, cape, fake moustache, and sword cane (ostensibly for her role as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for the school play) while nympho Amber (Nora Wieternik, FLESH GORDON) is experimenting with love potions (not that she really needs them). Among the staff, housekeeper Hettie Green (Casey Larrain, A TASTE OF HONEY) – whose daughter was killed by a drunken doctor – gives kinky massages to the new nurses, subhuman handyman Moss (Hump Hardy) nabs girls in the dark, scarred cook Margaret (Terri Bond) resents the “hussies” she cooks meals for, and virile groundskeeper Josh (Ric Lutze, COUNTRY HOOKER) reads underwear magazines and is tasked with disposing of the leftovers from the anatomy lessons.

After an interminable narration by Greer’s inspector (the actor also scripted the film) about the case of Jekyll and Hyde, the film then introduces one red herring character after another and tries its damndest to implicate them to the audience. The killer’s revelation actually is a surprise, and it is the one sequence in which director Haims demonstrates some skill in blurring our perceptions as to which one of the characters in the scene is the one experiencing the dissolve-heavy psychotic episode; but that’s after an hour or so of horrid acting (particularly Brook’s Dr. Cabala), plenty of unatmospheric wanderings (despite a neat mansion setting with a circular staircase) to inappropriate library music, and sex scenes that are usually heavier on nudity than action (with the exception of one of Hettie’s massages). It is hard to determine just how explicit this film was meant to be since sex scenes cut away to other scenes as the undressing starts and then return only to go through a lot of trouble to keep the camera above the waist (even though most of the cast members have shown a lot more in other softcore and hardcore films from this era). Apparently set in England, it was obviously shot in California going by the palm trees on the grounds of the institute and the number of West Coast sex film stars (some better known than others). Production values aren’t that bad with the Andy Milligan-esque period costumes more convincing than any of the character’s seeming knowledge of science as they tinker with beakers and test tubs full of dry ice (and eviscerate poor frogs). The whole thing ends on one of the most ridiculous and technically inept double exposures ever. The film had no American VHS release, while – according to John Charles’ Video Watchdog review of the film – the British company Intervision cancelled their planned 1982 VHS release, but did ship out the units they produced to people who ordered the title outside of the country. The Intervision tape command high prices when it does show up on auction sites.