Janet Smith (Gloria Talbott) is turning twenty-one. She and her fiancé George Hastings (John Agar) go to visit Janet’s guardian Dr. Lomas (Arthur Shields). When they get to the manor home Dr. Lomas is not yet home. They are greeted by the housekeeper Mrs. Merchant (Martha Wentworth). Also there is the groundskeeper Jacob (John Dierkes) and the maid Maggie (Molly McCard). The two travelers settle in and have a bite to eat before the doctor arrives.
Once Dr. Lomas gets there they have a toast to celebrate Janet’s coming of age. Janet tells the doctor that she and George are engaged. The doctor thinks the decision is a little hasty. They assure him that they intend on taking care of themselves and will not be taking any money from him. The doctor surprises them by telling Janet that the house and everything in the estate actually belongs to her. He also tells her that he will explain everything to her the next day.
In the morning, after breakfast, Janet and George explore the house. In the attic they find a hidden room that looks like a laboratory. Dr. Lomas shows up and tells them that Janet’s father used that room for his experiments. He then asks to speak to Janet alone. He tells her that she is the daughter of Dr. Jekyll and that Jekyll’s formula turned him into a werewolf. Janet believes that the malady is hereditary so she decides to cancel the wedding. Right away Janet begins to believe that she could pass it on to her children.
That night Janet has a nightmare. In the nightmare she believes she killed someone. When she wakes she finds blood on her dress and arms. She is unsettled at breakfast not knowing what to make of it. Then Jacob comes in carrying the body of the maid, Maggie. Jacob says her throat was ripped out and that she was killed by a werewolf.
The next night Janet has another nightmare in which she kills another woman. The next day she hears that a woman from the village named Lucy (Reita Green) was murdered in the woods. Jacob accuses Janet of the murder. Now Janet fully believes she is a werewolf. She wants George to either put her away in an asylum or kill her to relieve her of the curse.
“The Daughter of Dr. Jekyll” was released in 1957 and was directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. It is a low budget horror film done by Allied Artists. The movie takes the novel “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886 and turns it sideways.
I don’t know why Dr. Jekyll was called a werewolf in the movie. I suppose since you’re taking artistic license with his condition being passed down you can go one step further and say that the formula he drank turned him into a werewolf. It still doesn’t explain why Janet could be one. Of course Janet as well as the town’s people are susceptible to the suggestion so I guess it works on some level.
The very beginning and the very ending have a little narration that is campy and kinda stupid but they are both very short so they don’t really ruin the movie that much. The movie itself is steeped in atmosphere that gives the whole story a sinister feeling. There’s lots of fog and an old creepy house and crypt. The timeline is somewhere around the early nineteen hundreds which fits in line with the story being twenty years after the death of Dr. Jekyll. That is, if Dr. Jekyll died around the time the original story was written.
The movie ended up being pretty good. There were some of the usual tropes but the acting was good and there was a nice little twist that I didn’t expect. It’s a lesser known film when you consider that Talbott, Agar and Shields are all in it. Not to mention director Ulmer. He also has a decent resume. It’s not a bad movie at all so it should be a little better known than it is.