Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Hands of the Ripper (1971)

In 1970 and 1971 Hammer Films turned out a series of remarkably interesting horror films. Countess Dracula is an interesting account of the career of the infamous Elizabeth Bathory, and it’s a reasonably good film. The Vampire Lovers, based on Sheridan le Fanu’s novella Carmilla is a very fine film indeed. Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb is one of the more intriguing of Hammer’s Mummy movies. Twins of Evil is an immensely entertaining vampire yarn. And Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde is perhaps the most interesting of the lot, and original and offbeat and very effective reworking of Stevenson’s classic novella.

Yet another noteworthy 1971 Hammer movie is Hands of the Ripper, directed by Peter Sasdy. It’s another fascinatingly original reworking of a clichéd idea, this time Jack the Ripper. It has a strong cast, headed by Eric Porter as a turn-of-the-century medico who is an early disciple of Freud and wants to use Freud’s ideas to cure violent criminals. Derek Godfrey is very good as a slightly sinister Member of Parliament who may or may not have some involvement in a violent murder. Angharad Rees plays Anna, a somewhat disturbed young woman who may also be involved somehow.

The plot is intelligent, the story moves along at a good pace, the acting is good, and there’s some excellent cinematography which towards the end even gets a bit arty and gets away with it. This is a clever and original horror movie.

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