5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
'Jack's Back' !,
This review is from: Region 2 (UK) Hands of the Ripper [Import] (DVD)
'Hands of the Ripper' is a Hammer movie from Peter Sasdy; the same guy who directed the lamentable 'I Don't Want To Be Born' and it's in a different league.
Superior in every multitudinous way you can possibly think of, and then some...
It's a sharp, aggressive picture. A slight departure for Hammer, in that there's a VERY sympathetic 'monster'. Not an unthinking fiend from the murk and fog, but a vulnerable and frightened young girl: Anna.
Traumatized by an unspeakable horror from her childhood, conditioned by years of abuse and then hidden away. Forced to participate in her guardian's shameful exploiting of recently bereaved people in her fraudulent role as a medium.
That she snaps will come as no surprise. The trigger, something as innocent as a kiss, provokes the most horrendous violence as she becomes possessed by her father's murderous spirit and continues his trail of destruction.
Her father is none other than Victorian bogeyman Jack the Ripper. In 'HOTR's pre-credit sequence we see a hysterical Anna in her cot, witnessing her own mother's ghastly death at the hands of her scarred and blood stained father. Sowing the seeds of the inevitable carnage that follows....
Later, she's taken into the care of a kindly doctor, played excellently by old Soames himself - Eric Porter. Who, as an early advocate of Freud(the only thing he doesn't do is say "Ja ?"(!)), both suspects the evil in Anna, but thinks he can help her with psycho-analysis.
An opinion not shared by nasty politician (is there any other kind?) Dysart who believes the only cure for her is "a good, stout rope about her neck".
As it turns out, in Sasdy terms anyway, this would undoubtedly have been the wisest course of action.
There's some brilliantly unpleasant low-budget killings, including a jaw-dropping hat-pins-in-the-eye demise. and the film roars along like a leopard on fire - cramming all sorts of ideas and subversions across it's superbly compact 85 minutes.
Performances are exceptional. The fine Welsh actress Angharad Rees is marvellous as Anna, giving an understated interpretation. On one hand, ferocious, eyes-ablaze and ruthless - on the other - a child. Lost and innocent with no comprehension of whats happening to her or the devastation she's causing either in her own environment, or on the foggy, corrupt streets of Victorian London(itself a ruthless, hypocritical monster - a theme explored just as bitingly in Sasdy's previous 'Taste the Blood of Dracula').
Despite it's lurid title, this is a serious, complex thriller with many facets and is unmissable if you're in any way a fan of the Hammer ouvre in particular, or horror pictures generally.
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Initial post: Sep 12, 2008 3:10:21 PM PDT
Karen Shaub says:
Just when I thought I'd seen everything that Hammer had to offer. Guess I'll have to scrounge around and find a copy of this, won't I? Curse you, Paul Ess!
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 13, 2008 5:24:15 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 20, 2008 3:04:58 PM PDT
Paul Ess. says:
Or buy a book about Hammer so you don't get any more surprises. 'the Hammer Story' by Marcus Hearns is excellent. Big A4 hardback with a foreward by Christopher Lee. All the films-lesser and well known, travelogues, comedies, tv series and skirmishes with the censors discussed in full. Biographies of Fisher, Carreras, Cushing etc, loads of colour photos.
Very good indeed.
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