Lady Hyde (2022)

Rating: D+

Dir: Jason Rudy
Star: Liz Clare, Marylin Monroach, Jason Rudy, Ryan Gingery

It is important to realize going into this, that it an attempt to copy the film-making style of notorious director Jess/Jesus Franco. Rudy hosts a long-running show – as in, now into three digits of episodes – the Franco Observer Podcast, which talks about the movie-maker and his works. He said of Lady Hyde in November, “I filmed it using the Franco list and [it] is a modern update on She Killed in Ecstasy.” Said list, assembled by Rudy, is a series of tropes which crop up more or less frequently in Franco movies. It’s an interesting project, copying the style of a creator to whom you are devoted. There’s just one problem from my viewpoint. I fucking hate Jess Franco, and think he’s a massive hack, who couldn’t direct traffic.

Had I realized this was the intent, I’d probably have run screaming in the opposite direction. I was reeled in by the following synopsis: “A scientist suffers a catastrophic mental breakdown after his greedy colleagues destroy the vaccine he created. Now his wife is out for revenge.” Between that and the title, I was hoping for a fun B-movie, perhaps a female take on the Dr. Jekyll story, like Hammer’s Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde. It was only after five minutes of grating tedium that I reached for my phone, and discovered that the grating tedium was, in fact, entirely deliberate. Really: Rudy has nailed all the reasons why I despise Franco movies, from dialogue apparently written by a drunken monkey, to camerawork… well, a drunken monkey may well have been involved there too.

The story here involves Jane Graham (Clare), who has been struggling to suppress violent outbursts most of her life, but finally found happiness with medical researcher husband Jerry (Rudy). He’s on the verge of finding a COVID vaccine, when the least convincing “medical committee” in cinematic history stops him – then sends thugs to sabotage the lab, because they have their own vaccine. This causes Jerry to commit suicide, and Jane then vows to take revenge on every member of the committee, by unleashing those antisocial urges. And taking her clothes off. A lot. For one member is into auto-erotic asphyxiation, while another (Monroach) is… um, a former professional wrestler. Cue an extended cat-fight (top), while mournful classical piano music plays.

Meanwhile, the police, led by Inspector Rohan (Gingery) are investigating her killing. Very badly. To be fair, “inept cops” are #23 on the Franco list, and a lot of the stylistic approach here is also familiar from what I’ve endured of Franco films, such as the long, completely pointless scenes, of Jane wandering through a quarry. Clare is easily the best thing about this, and that’s also in line with Franco films, where the likes of Lina Romay were often the only saving grace. Fair play to Rudy: he has nailed what appears to be a barking mad love-letter to Jess. The purpose of the exercise, however, escapes me entirely: I’d rather he make his own damn movie next time. But then, I am very clearly not the target audience here…