HANDS OF THE RIPPER (BLU-RAY)
Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
What's it about
In the 19th century, a Freud-studying doctor (Eric Porter) takes interest in a young girl named Anna (Angharad Rees). Anna hasn't had the easiest go of things. Her evil sort of step-grandmother uses her as a front for her phony business of talking to the dead. As if that wasn't bad enough, the reason she's in orphan care is because she saw her father off her own mom..because her pops was Jack the Ripper! One way or another, the family tendencies are starting to shine through- Anna is beginning to show some awfully familiar traits. Is she evil, or has she been taken over by the Hands of the Ripper?
Is it good movie?
Taking a "sins of the father" approach, Hands of the Ripper presents a
colorful, violent flick that is among a small few of the classic Hammer
horror flicks I've gotten to watch. Unfortunately, it's a bit off in
its logic and doesn't totally make sense. The idea here is that we're
not supposed to know whether or not the girl is the daughter of Jack
the Ripper, or if she's acting on her own tendencies or actually
possessed. It doesn't totally work, because it makes the doctor look
like a bit of a fool who actually is so irresponsible that he kind of
causes the death of a lot of folks in the flick (and blatantly covers
them up, how amoral can you be?).
See, the age of this film unquestionably shows and ultimately it all
feels a little silly. Anna's body is sold to a loaded politician named
Dysart, who's among the first to send Anna into a frenzy. Anna's
murderous rage tends to be triggered by kisses on the cheek and a
pattern of light (almost any kind really) being shone into her eyes.
Almost all of the flick's nasty bits involve Anna looking blankly into
the ether and wiping people out with some pretty decent brutality
(especially in this, the uncut version).
There's definitely some good stuff going on here. The acting is
actually pretty great. Our doctor Eric Porter is actually quite capable
in the role, pulling off some pretty intense scenes without going way
over the top. On the contrary, this role is acted with the proper
amount of conviction. Anna as played by Angharad Rees was also pretty
good. Unfortunately a lot of the movie doesn't let us learn a lot about
the true character, but her presence is fragile and against type for a
film like this. On top of that, the film wasn't filmed on a crappy
cheap set, but rather on location at Pinewood studios using established
Sherlock Holmes sets. This is a nice, almost classy looking film in
So, this one's a bit bereft of logic and certainly not one of the best
known Hammer films, but I had a good time with it. It's an early
attempt at pseudo-psychological horror and it doesn't fire on every
cylinder but some good performances, great deaths and good scenery make
it a great classic horror choice.
Video / Audio
Video: The 1.66:1 widescreen format/1080p transfer
is pretty top notch. The colors look great, the picture us sharp and
detail levels are high. Hard to believe this picture is so old!
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio, 2.0 mono.. it's
too bad that surround technology didn't exist back then, but this audio
track is perfectly fine.
The Devil's Bloody Plaything:
Possessed by the Hands of the Ripper is a behind the scenes look
back at this film, running about a half hour long. It grabs a bunch of
Hammer historians who provide context, trivia and commentary about the
creation of this film. It's not super exhaustive, but it's really well
done. Great companion piece.
Slaughter of the Innocence: The
Evolution of Hammer Gore is a series of snapshots that show you
gore from various Hammer films. Neat addition.
Want some Trailers? TV spots? They're here! Another still gallery? You're in luck!
An interesting inclusion is the US TV
introduction, which was mostly lost in a fire. Here you get the
audio of someone introducing the film as if they were a psychiatrist.
If you're into it, you can turn on an isolated
music and effects track.
A DVD of the film is also
Sure, it isn't perfect but Hands of the Ripper has been given great
treatment from Synapse films. If you're into the preservation of
classic horror, this one should easily fit into your collection.