Edge of Sanity (film)

Edge of Sanity is a 1989 American horror film directed by Gérard Kikoïne and starring Anthony Perkins. It mixes elements of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with those of tales of Jack the Ripper.[1]

Edge of Sanity
Film poster
Directed byGérard Kikoïne
Produced byJacques Fiorentino
Harry Alan Towers
Written byJ.P. Félix
Ron Raley
Based onStrange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Jack the Ripper
StarringAnthony Perkins
Glynis Barber
David Lodge
Music byFrédéric Talgorn
CinematographyTony Spratling
Edited byMalcolm Cooke
Allied Vision
Distributed byMillimeter Films
Release date
14 April 1989
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$102,219


In the opening scene, Henry Jekyll, a young boy, witnesses his father committing adultery with another woman in a barn. His father catches him and violently whips Henry for spying, scarring him for life and leading to repressed sadomasochistic longings. Many years later, in late 1880s England, the adult Dr. Henry Jekyll is experimenting with the human psyche when he accidentally ingests a mix of ether and cocaine and goes insane. He transforms into the monstrous-looking Edward "Jack the Ripper" Hyde and murders a prostitute who resembles one that he previously met as a child. He begins a killing spree using the mixture that was originally meant to be an anesthetic in order to influence prostitutes and johns to torture and kill each other.[2] The murders gain the attention of a detective from Scotland Yard as well as Jekyll's wife Elisabeth, who begins to suspect where her husband is going at nights.

As "Jack" Hyde, he enlists two assistants to give out his anesthetic drug to distribute among the lower-class population of Whitechapel. One night, after he transforms, Jekyll is followed by Elisabeth to a brothel and then from there to a sadomasochistic threesome at a local abandoned warehouse where both of Hyde's partners go crazy and attempt to kill each other and her. Elisabeth subdues and kills both and gets away, but Hyde follows her back to her house. He breaks in and murders her before transforming back into Dr. Jekyll, thus getting away with everything and enabling him to continue his killing spree.



A few exterior sets were filmed in London. Vincent Canby stated that he thinks the film looks "19th-century atmospheric".[1] While the film is for the most part clearly set in the Victorian era, some of the wardrobe seems deliberately anachronistic and modern, adding to the film's suurealistic ambience.

Alain Silver compared the style of the film to those directed by Ken Russell, based on the way that the films incorporate the supernatural, psychology, and sexual imagery. He also said that the prostitutes "further unsettle the preconceptions of the audience".[2]

The book Marked Women: Prostitutes and Prostitution in the Cinema uses the film as an example of sexual brutality against women in films.[3]


Vincent Canby wrote in The New York Times that Anthony Perkins "gives a good, funny, if somewhat lopsided performance as the madman of medicine".[1]

TV Guide reviewed the film, giving it 1 out of 4 stars and saying, "EDGE OF SANITY obviously isn't meant to be taken seriously, despite its expensive production values and surrealistic photography—both surprisingly good. But the rest of EDGE OF SANITY (shot mostly in Budapest with some English exteriors) doesn't measure up to its technical proficiency."[4] Leonard Maltin described the film as "Tasteless, pointless, and unpleasant".[5]


  1. Canby, Vincent (14 April 1989). "Edge of Sanity (1989) Review/Film; Anthony Perkins Plays a Modern Jekyll and Hyde". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  2. Silver, Alain (1994). More Things Than Are Dreamt of. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 83–84. ISBN 9781617802232. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  3. Campbell, Russell (2006). Marked Women: Prostitutes and Prostitution in the Cinema. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 374. ISBN 9780299212537. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  4. "Edge of Sanity: Review". TV Guide. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  5. Maltin, Leonard (2009). Leonard Maltin's 2010 Movie Guide. Penguin. ISBN 9781101108765. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
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