on 14 November 2006
Welcome to Hammer's outstanding "Hands of the Ripper", one of the studio's last movies and one of their best. Previously only available as a box set with two far inferior British 70's horror movies "The Monster" and "The Uncanny", it is high time this film was decreed worthy of a stand alone release.
The story tells of Anna, a young girl who is actually Jack the Ripper's daughter, and who was traumatised as a toddler by witnessing a vicious killing (seen in the prologue). Now an adult, she is prone to murderous seizures which provide the many grisly highlights of the film. It sounds rather lurid, but the film takes the subject seriously, and as a whole, the plot is tremendously engaging. Anna's rages are only triggered by a specific set of circumstances, and the script creates a surprising and clever staging for each one, following on every time with a suitably gory slaughter. The film features great performances from its prestigious cast, particularly Angharad Rees who is luminously beautiful as Anna, and Eric Porter as the doctor who realises her identity but is compelled to try and cure her rather than turn her in (as well as falling for her charms, as she has no recollection of what she does when she goes into a trance). Of course, he also wants to be the person who makes the medical breakthrough in curing her, and it is this ego trip as much as anything that prolongs the mayhem before Anna is stopped. The murder scenes are all very well done, and quite gruesome too, especially the dazzling broken mirror murder and then there's the hatpins...(ouch!)
But even though Anna is essentially innocent, in the movies such a situation can only end in tragedy, and the climax of the story is quite downbeat and very effective. The period London setting, the photography and the directing all fall perfectly into place, and "Hands of the Ripper" can be judged as one of Hammer's greatest acheivements.
Sadly I can't comment on the Newtork DVD as I bought the Carlton one that I got from a split box set (it has a very good picture by the way), but I hear they have done a good job with it. A commentary by Angharad Rees has been added, which sounds great, along with stills and a trailer, plus an episode of the old TV show "Thriller", also starring Rees, though it is not connected with the film itself.
The quality of the film is supposed to be better too, and although the Carlton DVD is perfectly good, I might even upgrade and get it for the extras, and it certainly has a much better sleeve - the Carlton one is dire! If you haven't owned this film before, I would suggest that now is the time to buy a copy.
on 25 July 2008
'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.
Hands of the Ripper is a shockingly neglected and obscure little atmospheric masterpiece from Hammer Studios. It's a veritable showcase of classic horror at its best, with several somewhat bloody scenes thrown in for good measure. Beautifully shot and scored, the film simply oozes the aura of Victorian London, and the cinematography of the final shot is, ahem, to die for. The entire cast is wonderful, particularly Eric Porter and Angharad Rees, the latter being a delightful young actress I had never encountered before.
I know you're probably wondering if the film is about Jack the Ripper. Well, yes and no. The story is ostensibly about his daughter. You can imagine how screwed up in the head a daughter of Saucy Jack might be; now imagine that this little girl saw her father murder her mother right in front of her eyes. Freud would have wet himself over such a poor, young thing. Now a young lady, we find Anna working as a fraudulent medium's secret little helper. The madam isn't above selling Anna's body to certain gentlemen, either. Following a "séance" attended by the good Dr. Pritchard (Eric Porter) and others, no less than a man of Parliament (Derek Godfrey) stays behind to indulge in some special favors. A scream later, Pritchard has run back into the house (encountering the fleeing Parliamentarian at the door) to find Anna in a somewhat catatonic state and the medium quite dead. You would think Pritchard would accuse the man he saw fleeing the house at the time of the murder, but he has plans of his own. Having grown fascinated with the breakthrough work of Freud in Vienna, Pritchard thinks he can cure the girl (if she does turn out to be the murderer) and, at the same time, finally acquire the answers as to why people commit murder in the first place.
Having brought Anna home with him, Pritchard finds her to be the meekest of creatures, a veritable delight to be around. If it weren't for her bad habit of killing people for no good reason, she would be a beacon of female virtue. In her defense, she is quite unaware of her murderous actions, as she falls into something of a trance each time the violence rises up in her. Pritchard, not yet knowing the facts of her childhood, believes her to be schizophrenic, but more than one character ultimately voices the opinion that Jack the Ripper himself possesses her body whenever a certain stimulus causes her to break with reality. Either way, Dr. Pritchard has bought himself some trouble - and just days away from his son's marriage, too.
OK, the plot is a little less than perfect, but I loved this movie. You just can't beat Hammer Studios when it comes to producing old school horror films heavy on suspense and characterization. Those looking for quick bloody thrills should probably look elsewhere, as this film's rather limited gore is sprinkled here and there throughout the film, but those who appreciate horror in all its facets should be particularly impressed with this overlooked 1971 Hammer Studios gem.
on 22 August 2014
A Decent enough transfer. I also have the original Network DVD. Watching one after the other the difference in the sharpness of the image is very noticeable, and while there is a fair amount of grain in the Blu ray image, I would much rather have this than cartoonish levels of DNR.
I haven't got a great sound system around my TV but it appears to sound better than the DVD.
It is not the best Blu ray transfer I have ever seen but it is certainly an upgrade on the DVD in my opinion. I have noticed no lip sync errors anywhere with a bit of a skip through.
on 11 November 2015
Another classic Hammer production, not one of the most well known, but easily one of the studio's best, with a very interesting and unique take on the Jack The Ripper formula, with a concept never done before or since, like Hammer's 'Dr Jekyll And Sister Hyde' another timeless classic with the late-great Ralph Bates, also 'Blood From The Mummy's Tomb' with the very beautiful & attractive Valerie Leon, what happened to her?, also the wonderfully sinister James Villiers, the point being that like those other classic Hammer film's, Hands Of The Ripper', the studio produced a fascinating, unique, innovative and refreshingly new take on a traditional story done time and time again, but this is an individual spin on Jack The Ripper, Hammer at it's most classic and it's best, you can't fault it, great film, price and all, this is why Hammer is such a legend!
on 20 August 2014
Oh this is a good release, not only have Network released a terrific looking blu ray of a favorite Hammer film of mine but they've added a great episode of Thriller (Once the Killing Starts staring Angharad Rees) on the disc as well. It's like staying up late on a Friday night in the '70's all over again. I hope this trend will continue in their horror releases. Nice one Network.
on 24 August 2014
I owned the Carlton DVD release & despite what a couple of people say this is an improvement. There is some grain but that is to be expected of a film 43 year's old, some people seem to expect the picture quality of a film released at the cinema today. Very happy and looking forward to Networks releases of 'Countess Dracula' & 'Twins of Evil' in a couple of weeks, hopefully 'Vampire Circus' to come!
on 2 October 2009
Hammer films usually divide audiences, there are those who dismiss them as purile rubbish and those who appreciate how much detail and care went into making their finest films. Yes they made some dire movies but the classics - The Quatermass Xperiment, Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein, The Mummy and The Devil Rides Out are now all widely regarded as perfect examples of the genre. Add to this list Hands of the Ripper, probably the last really exceptional film the studio made - it's my personal favourite Hammer film. I've had this on VHS for over 15 years recorded from a BBC showing late one night and it's one of the few times it was shown uncut on television (ITV screened it a few years ago and it took up 80 minutes in the schedule including adverts, very bad for a film running at 85 minutes). Other reviewers have mentioned the story so I'll not go over it again only to say that the acting is perfect, Anghared Rees beautiful and in a role unlike her other work and the atmosphere fully encapsulates the period. The deaths are extremely gory even by Hammer standards and the music is outstanding. This is probably the best film Hammer made in the seventies and it still stands up today, the enduring fascination of Jack the Ripper and Victorian London make this film as fresh as the day it was released. Superb.
Hands of the Ripper is directed by Peter Sasdy and written by L.W. Davidson and Edward Spencer Shew. It stars Eric Porter, Angharad Rees, Jane Merrow, Keith Bell, Derek Godfrey, Dora Bryan and Marjorie Rhodes. Music is by Christopher Gunning and cinematography by Kenneth Talbot.
The infant daughter of Jack the Ripper witnesses the brutal murder of her mother by her father. Now a young woman she is deeply troubled and seems to have inherited her father's murderous instincts. An eminent psychiatrist takes her in to his own home in the belief he can benefit medical science by studying her at close quarters...
A nifty late horror entry from Hammer Film Productions, Hands of the Ripper boasts the usual period delights and a on form cast doing justice to the intriguing twist on Ripper lore. The murders are delightfully gruesome in that colourful Hammer way, the Freudian beats penetrative and spicy and the suspense is well orchestrated by old pro Sasdy. Sasdy also has a keen eye for fluid camera techniques, and with Talbot making good use of shadows and light, it's an all round well constructed production that looks higher on monetary value than it actually was.
Naturally full of improbabilities and cliché contrivance, Hands of the Ripper is still a horror film of considerable substance. From the attention grabbing opening sequence as Jolly Jack returns home from his work, to the breath holding finale set at St Paul's Cathedral, it delivers many treats for fans of Hammer Horror. 7.5/10
on 4 January 2008
Plenty has been said about the movie itself, so I'll comment on the quality of the DVD. I was disappointed in the mastering job. The first 25 minutes looked very good, but starting about minute 25 until minute 33, and periodically thereafter, there was a white speckling of the film. It looked as though parts of the image were badly scratched, most visible about every third frame during this 8 minutes. Same defect appeared in the Thriller episode.
After my initial review, I tried the disk on a still newer player, which was set to interlaced scan, and the disk played perfectly. So, had a problem with a fairly new Pioneer player, and no problem with a newer LG recorder/player. You may have no problem with this disk. Consider this review a five star for the film, and four stars for possible disk problems.