10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
'Jack's Back' !,
This review is from: Hands Of The Ripper  [DVD] (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 is a VERY sympathetic 'monster'; this is no unthinking fiend from the murk and fog, but a vulnerable and frightened young girl called Anna. Traumatized by an unspeakable horror from her childhood; conditioned by years of abuse, then finally 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 also believes he can help her using 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, 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 what's 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 undertones, 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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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Jul 2009 15:16:20 BDT
R. Martin says:
Is it possible to get an uncut version of this film. The poker scene is still cut.
In reply to an earlier post on 2 Aug 2013 15:54:41 BDT
A. Woodrow says:
It is not currently possible to buy no, and barring someone finding the long since missing footage, it looks like what we have currently, is all that can ever be released. IMO Hammer - who now quite happily point their fingers of blame at the censors of that era, now that they are after UNCUT kudos for their films - are the main culprits as they didn't keep any of the footage that either they, the directors or the BBFC cut. Which is as criminal as the BBC's wiping of classic archive material.
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