Jacqueline Hyde (2005) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Just call me Rip Van Winkle. It seems I watched this film after having slept for many years.

You see, it's a story about a mousy, overweight telemarketer who discovers her grandfather's Jekyll/Hyde formula, That turns out to be a very potent concoction which allows her to transform herself into anything - a gorgeous supermodel, a lithe dancer, even a hunky guy. The film stars Gabriella Hall.

Now what does that have to do with Rip Van Winkle? Well, I would have expected Gabriella Hall to play the "after", but she plays the "before" - she's the frumpy, lonely chunky-monkey. I guess I probably should have set the alarm for 1996 when I took that long nap. Either that, or I should have paid my cable bill. I guess the Cinemax world kind of passed me by.

I read a few ugly pans of this film from the online reviewers linked at IMDb. Filmcritic.com went so far as to say, "The film is so badly made it's hysterical." I don't agree with that at all. The film does have some serious lighting issues, and that is certainly an important point in evaluating it, but I think director Rolfe Kanefsky did a lot of things quite competently in this film, given the obvious budgetary constraints.

(1) He found an architecturally unusual mansion to be his primary filming location, and that choice lent the film a unique look and gave it plenty of detail and texture. The mansion's interior, complete with a full range of gags and gimmicks, and decorated with vintage posters and showbiz memorabilia, seemed totally appropriate as the former home of a professional magician - because it really was a magician's home! Kanefsky rewrote parts of the script after he found the location.

(2) In general, I like what he did with the placement and movement of the camera. With few exceptions, the storyboarding is smooth and coherent.

(3) The music blends well with the visuals to accentuate the appropriate moods.

Of course, it is also possible to draw up a list of criticisms. With any B movie, Santa's "nice" list is always balanced off in full or part by the "naughty" list, because there are always compromises when money is tight. Some of the acting is good, some isn't so good. Some of the special effects are shaky. I expect those sorts of things in a low budget movie, so I brush them away mentally. The only important thing on my "naughty" list is the lighting, which really poisoned the cinematography. The exterior daylight shots in this film are quite good, and some of the daytime interiors look fine, but just about all of the evening and night activity needed a few more lightbulbs. That's a critical flaw because the film features gore effects and pretty girls en deshabille, and those elements don't serve much purpose if you can't see them! 

Excluding the lighting, however, I think Kanefsky delivered a pretty good bang for the buck in terms of production values. Unfortunately, I don't think the film has an audience. It is a reasonably interesting interpretation of the Jekyll/Hyde story, but in the final analysis, it is a genre film without a genre.

  • It isn't really scary enough to be a balls-out horror film.
  • There isn't enough gore to please the gorehounds.
  • There isn't enough nudity to please the Cinemax crowd, but there is too much sexual content for the film to work as a studio-style Halloween release. I watched the unrated version, and it is definitely a hard R or NC-17, but without much clear nudity, and no lower body frontal nudity at all. The lead character is obsessed with sex, there are numerous sex scenes, and there are various self-induced orgasms, but there is simply not much nudity, and the sex scenes have not been shot to feature the nudity. Too much editing; too few light bulbs.

The tame nudity, even in the unrated version and the deleted scenes, is surprising because Kanefsky has delivered some pretty good soft-core films in the past. We know he can do it right, so he must have been deliberately trying to avoid going in the direction of erotica. A quick peek at the most recent films in Kanefsky's IMDb filmography seems to confirm that he wants to move away from sex films in order to become a horror film director. The following "official summary" indicates that he hopes Jacqueline Hyde can be taken seriously as a psychological horror drama:

"A lonely and shy young woman inherits a house and stumbles upon a secret formula that enables her to transform her body in any way she wants. Each time she takes on a different form, she loses parts of her own personality until she doesn't know where her real self ends and her new alter-ego begins. The struggle between her new found abilities and her own conscience lead up to a climax where she will have to recapture her old life or give in to her desires."

Frankly, this film is not going to please the literary people who want to see their favorite Stevenson story re-interpreted. So who is going to be pleased with this film? Not the splatter/slasher crowd. Not the people interested in sexual titillation. I don't know of an audience. I honestly think Kanefsky could have been on to something with Jacqueline Hyde if he had simply thought in advance, "Who is my audience? How am I going to deliver a kick-ass film for that audience?"

Rolfe Kanefsky made a pretty good film when he was only 21 years old - the rough but promising There's Nothing Out There, a self-referential precursor to "Scream." Fifteen years later, that is still his highest-rated film at IMDb ...

Just as Jacqueline Hyde is a genre film looking for a genre, Kanefsky is a director searching for a niche to match his abilities and interests.

Maybe next time. 



  • Feature-length commentary by the director and the two female stars
  • "making of " featurette
  • deleted and extended scenes
  • stills gallery
  • the transfer is widescreen, but letterboxed, not anamorphically enhanced for 16x9 screens



  • No lower body frontal nudity.
  • Breasts from: Gabriella Hall, Eva Derrek, Sara Hayes-Marshall
  • Breasts and buns from: Blythe Metz and Rebekah Ellis

The Critics Vote ...

  • Straight-to-vid. No major reviews online

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a D, a genre film stranded without a genre.

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