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The infant daughter of Jack the Ripper is witness to the brutal murder of her mother by her father. Fifteen years later she is a troubled young woman who is seemingly possessed by the spirit of her father. While in a trance she continues his murderous killing spree but has no recollection of the events afterwards. A sympathetic psychiatrist takes her in and is convinced he can cure her condition. Soon, however, he regrets his decision. Written by
Kevin Steinhauer <K.Steinhauer@BoM.GOV.AU>
While just a young child, Anna (Angharad Rees) witnesses the brutal murder of her mother by father Jack the Ripper'. Fifteen years later she begins to enter trances and appears to be possessed by the Ripper himself. A friendly psychiatrist, Dr. Pritchard (Eric Porter), unaware of her past and believing her problems to be purely in the mind takes Anna in while he attempts to cure her. However, he soon regrets his decision.
Hands of the Ripper' is a rather underrated and enjoyable Hammer film. The film is slow, methodical and story based which may not appeal to those who like lots of `action' in their flicks, but anyone who likes classic horror wonderfully entwined with a near-gripping thriller should find something enjoyable in Hands of the Ripper'. Director Peter Sasdy does well in building the tension and ensuring that the audience remains enthralled throughout the slower paced thriller aspects. Peter Sasdy does his best in making the most of the screenplay and adds some wonderful touches to the visuals of the film which really stand out and help to make the movie what it is. The sporadic flashback sequences may not be entirely original in horror but few are quite as effective. Some beautiful and often despairingly solemn musical arrangements accompany the film and induce the necessary mood in the viewer in order to fully appreciate this interesting piece of cinema.
The film is made all that better by some great performances from Eric Porter, Angharad Rees and Derek Godfrey in the short role of Dysart. Unfortunately, while one expects a certain degree of camp from a hammer movie, there did seem to be a slight overabundance of camp or hammy performances from some of the cast. However, one can take solace in knowing that the majority of these moments were towards the beginning of the film. Sadly, the poor performances were not the only thing that damaged this movie. There was an occasional lack in useful dialogue which lead to some of the scenes seeming distracted or unbelievable. This was accompanied by a couple of scenes which seemed bizarre and incoherent in their reasoning of the characters actions.
Nevertheless, the film manages to entertain and should hold the interest of fans of other Hammer films. Compared to modern day horror movies, Hands of the Ripper' is a slow moving film that probably has little appeal for the `nu-horror' fans but fans of classic horror should find the film to worthy of at least one watch. The death scenes may be a little of an anti-climax and there are some storyline problems, but Hands of the Ripper' is an entertaining movie that seems to be rather underrated. A bizarre yet enjoyable mixture of horror, thriller, period drama and the work of Sigmund Freud. My rating for Hands of the Ripper' 7/10.
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