Gender-bending, Bette Davis, and redneck witchcraft in the 1970s

It’s back to the early 1970s, when I was just a wee child, for a threesome of films featuring female horror veterans.


You’d never expect Hammer Films to challenge the norm in one of its classic horror adaptations. But Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde could be covered in a queer film studies class for being way ahead of its time. I was only two when it was released, but I imagine it must have been much more shocking to audiences than the likes of the 1995 comedy Dr. Jekyll & Ms. Hyde.

The film could be interpreted as being about a man coming to terms with his latent homosexuality (it probably was back then), but this is much more aligned with the idea that Jekyll is coming to terms with the fact that he’s actually a heterosexual woman. I saw it as a film about a man finally embracing his transgender identity.

Jekyll is so wrapped up in his research that he has no interest in dating women, even though the young woman living in his building keeps throwing herself at him. In trying to find the elixir of life, Jekyll begins extracting female hormones from women he kills—prostitutes, because it’s quite common for Hyde to be interwoven with the real-life Jack the Ripper in horror films.

Jekyll soon determines that his potion turns males into females….so he drinks it. He likes what he sees. He likes the feel of his boobs. He can’t resist taking the drink more often. He gets Sister Hyde to do his dirty work She becomes the killer of women, almost as if Jekyll is taking out his jealousy against women who were born women.

In a queer moment, a man who is attracted to Sister Hyde runs into Jekyll on the street and asks him about his sister. Jekyll almost can’t fight the urge to identify himself as her and even sensually caresses the man’s face.

In a stunning scene, Sister Hyde seduces Jekyll’s male friend then brutally stabs him, but as she does, the friend begins seeing Jekyll instead of her. And when Jekyll comes to, he looks in the mirror and says “I must be rid of you” to his own reflection, not that of Sister Hyde. Sister Hyde is taking over the body and Jekyll can barely suppress her and her natural longings. She openly says that she is the stronger of the two and Jekyll is weak, and then realizes she must stop any love interest from enticing Jekyll to remain in control…

There’s a great stained glass window transformation scene, and not surprisingly, the film ends with a message of the woman being the weaker sex. Hey, it was still pretty groundbreaking despite that final offense, and horror and monster movie veteran Martine Beswick is awesome as Sister Hyde.

HEX (aka: Charms) (1973)

How does a western witch movie turn out to be such a psychedelic drug trip? Is every character in the movie cursed, or are they just tripping on some bad weed? I’ll never know.

Taking place in the early 1900s, this film is loaded with anachronisms, making it hard to tell what time period it actually is while adding to the feeling of being totally loopy.

A biker gang drives into a town, gets into trouble with the locals, and hides out on the farm of two sisters.

They have a lot of fun and get high, but then one dude tries to rape one of the sisters.

The other sister, played by Cristina Raines of The Sentinel and Nightmares, lets them stay, but hexes them.

Soon everyone is tripping out, being seduced, seeing things (mostly natures creatures), and dying.

Don’t take that as a positive, because there is little in the way of nudity, gore, or violence. This movie is all talk.

The cast includes Keith Carradine, Gary Busey, Dan Haggerty.

There’s also a car that I was convinced was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and was going to take flight at any minute.



This little horror thriller is pretty predictable these days, but it’s surprising that it goes where it does in the end considering the time at which it was made. I won’t give it away, but it is definitely a made-for-TV answer to a couple of shockers from the sixties, including a major hit from a famous director.

Peggy desperately needs a job, so she applies at the home of a man (Marlo Thomas’s boyfriend Donald from That Girl) and his mother, played by Bette Davis.

Bette makes it clear she doesn’t want Peggy there, while the son begins to cozy up to her due to their shared interest in creating sculptures. In fact, he has a whole studio where he makes these freakishly cool statues in blood red.

Meanwhile, Peggy becomes too involved in the family’s secret, including why Bette’s daughter left home. She also simply has to know why she has been warned to never go in the room above their garage. Uh-oh.

The film is very minor on murder (but there is murder), and there’s a ghostly female apparition roaming around the grounds to add to the eerie atmosphere, but I’m pretty sure any horror veteran will figure out where this is headed before it gets there.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at
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