Once a upon a time in the early ’80s there was a show on ABC called Fridays. It appeared every Friday at midnight as a rival to NBC’s Saturday Night Live which, at the time, was suffering from low ratings. What made Fridays different was that it concentrated more on drug jokes.
During the post-disco / post-Vietnam War era of the early 80’s, the notorious drug-of-choice was cocaine. Some cast members of SNL were known coke users, but I’m not sure about the members of Fridays (although they did feature a sketch in their 1980 season that showed a hand puppet snorting a line of coke). Regardless of actual nose-candy usage, Mark Blankfield was very famous for his crazy pharmacist “Drugs ‘R’ Us” sketches that appeared on Fridays. The “Drugs ‘R’ Us” sketch was one of the most, or perhaps the most popular sketch in 1980-1981. This was the peak of success for Fridays as their ratings soared higher than SNL‘s. Then, around early 1982, ABC executives decided to pull the plug.
Fast forward a few months —
8-tracks were still in fashion. Hall & Oates had some hit songs on the radio. People were trying to figure out the Rubik’s Cube. And — People were snorting cocaine like they were buying Thriller albums. It probably seemed like a really groovy idea to put Mark Blankfield in a starring role to capitalize on his drug related Fridays sketches. I can imagine it: The three writers of Jekyll and Hyde Together Again hanging out in Studio 54, snorting fat lines, and thinking “Hey, let’s make a movie based on uh… snoooort, that Robert Louis Stevenson novel, and uh… snoooort, glorifying cocaine use, and uh… snoooort Mark Blankfield!”
Enter Jekyll and Hyde Together Again.
I first heard about this movie while watching old ’80s commercials taped off a local cult (and now defunct) Bay Area TV station, KBHK Channel 44. Following the cheesy OP clothing commercial, the A&W Family Restaurant Burger commercial (the one that featured “The Wuppets” promo), and the K-Tel Records commercial, came an ad for a film I couldn’t recall seeing before. It had what looked to be a young Gene Wilder as a mad scientist (people often confuse Mark Blankfield with Gene Wilder, most likely because of their similar physical comedy style and curly ’80s afro perm). There was a girl, Krista Errickson (from Hello, Larry), playing Pac-Man while this Gene Wilder lookalike yells in her ear, “I AM THE DOCTOR!!!!!!!”
After watching that commercial I thought to myself: “What the hell was that?! Ooooh, what did I just see?!” Luckily, I had just gotten a Betamax VCR (with the woodgrain), so I obtained a copy of this film.
Watching this on Betamax adds to the nostalgia factor, for sure. There’s even a really funny synopsis on the back of the Betamax tape box that says:
Nodding off one day, Dr. Jekyll (Mark Blankfield) accidentally snorts a sampling of the snuff which quickly transforms this shy, sensitive man into a wild, wide-eyed disco deviant with New Wave tendencies. To the shock of his boss, Dr. Carew (Michael McGuire), and Jekyll’s fiancee, Mary (Bess Armstrong), spoiled daughter of the head doctor, Hyde takes over by taking to nymph chasing and disco blazing.
But the richest and sickest patient in the world is admitted and needs Jekyll to survive. Will Jekyll show up? Or will he go on to discover more perverse pleasures hidden in his Hyde?
Ha ha ha, love it!
This film takes the early ’80s style screwball sex humor of Porky’s, the drug humor of Nice Dreams (which was released a year prior to this and coincidentally also has a funny scene in a Chinese restaurant), the mad doctor humor of the original Nutty Professor, the spoofiness of Airplane, and rolls it all into one. This is definitely an ’80s cocaine film. Even during the opening credits the main title is snorted. I do not condone the use of hard drugs, but it does make for some good laughs.
It’s sad that not a lot of people remember this film. Blankfield should have blown up big with it. This is definitely his epic comic tour de force. He was known for his great physical comedy on Fridays. One of the show’s creators even remarked that he was the ’80s version of Buster Keaton. This was Jim Carrey before Jim Carrey.
So this film needs a bigger cult following. Let’s make it happen! Major props to this chicken sushi hawkin’, classy pantyhose coke snortin’, politically incorrect, disco dancing screwball of a sexploitation comedy flick!
My next review will be:
The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981) on Betamax
HAVE A NICE NIGHT AND A PLEASANT TOMORROW
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