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.
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.
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!