“‘O God!’ I screamed, and ‘O God!’ again and again; for there before my eyes–pale and shaken, and half fainting, and groping before him with his hands, like a man restored from death–there stood Henry Jekyll!”
– Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
With Halloween quickly approaching thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies are looking to all things scary to get their fix. Local haunted houses like the infamous Scarehouse in Etna are bursting with homicidal maniacs, blood thirsty evil doers, and rooms meant to induce lunacy, madness and mental and emotional breakdown. Then there are the movies, pumping horror fans with films like “The Thing” remake and “Paranormal Activity 3,” [Come on people, the first one was great, lets leave it at that.] full of haunts and homicide from the comfort of a theater.
But what of the classic horror genre? What happened to a great story that plays with your mind and startles the senses? What happened to the good old days in film and further more literature, when creativity was king and the true horror masters knew how to twist reality and tingle the psyche? One classic tale that comes to mind when thinking of the evil in all of us and how a little science fiction and a little fear of the unknown can go a long way in the imagination is The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the story of Dr. Henry Jekyll, his experiments and his mysterious acquaintance, Mr. Hyde, as told by a friend. The story spans a time frame of approximately 2 years through the changes in Jekyll’s personality and his friendship and the strange comings and goings of the even stranger Mr. Hyde. It is hard to say much more of the story with out giving it away, but it is sufficient to say that the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that you think you know is not the story you’ll find when picking up Stevenson’s original. It is written with a skill reader’s have seen in Stevenson’s other works, and paints mysterious and grotesque picture of not only science but humanity that leaves the reader with chills in their spine and questioning the action of even their closest kin.
In fact, “There are dozens of stage and film adaptations of the novella; over 123 film versions alone, not including stage and radio versions,” states Wikipedia.com, as well as a smattering of book adaptations. From at early as 1887 (the book was written in 1886) fans of the story have been claiming it and changing it, leaving little of the original story behind. Even the immortal Bugs Bunny has had a turn at playing the part. And it is so strange that with rich plot and illuminating details the novella possesses not one adaptation had been able to capture the story as it was originally told. Perhaps it is part of the mystery of the story, or perhaps it is just too strange a story to retell.