Hands Of The Ripper is a gloriously melodramatic 1971 horror from Hammer Films. Peter Sasdy’s film follows Jack The Ripper’s daughter (Angharad Rees) who subconsciously murders her way across Edwardian London. Her condition is caused by a traumatic childhood (she saw her father kill her mother) and her only hope of salvation comes in the form of Eric Porter’s Freudian psychiatrist.
Sasdy’s film is pure hokum, but he gets the tone just right. Everything is played totally straight as the melodramatic moments heighten the gory camp. Hands Of The Ripper comes with some impressive performances (Porter has some well honed moments) and some very luscious visual elements. Hammer always knew how to make their limited budgets stretch on the screen and the set design is flawless. Meanwhile Christopher Gunnings score brings a certain amount of melancholy to the over dramatic horror.
Hands Of The Ripper contains some invention murders and some strong special effects. It may not be one of the studio’s top tier productions but it once again shows that Hammer films were incredibly well made pieces of horror cinema. They have a classiness and charm that a lot of other horror films of the time just didn’t have and that is why they hold up so well today.
The plot may be farfetched and overly dramatic, but Hands Of The Ripper is an engaging piece of horror cinema from one of the most influential studios in British cinema. They may have made B-movies, but they always looked like A-grade productions. This may not have made use of the studio’s more famous talent like Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth checking out. Hands Of The Ripper shows a different side to the studio, one that was making progressive horror movies and this one in particular feels like it was heavily influenced by the late ‘60s counter culture and its many mind-bending experiences.
Hands Of The Ripper Blu-ray comes with a great set of extras. Angharad Rees joins horror meisters Kim Newman and Stephen Jones for an information packed commentary. Meanwhile, there’s also a ‘70s teleplay in the Thriller series called Once the Killing Starts, which also stars Angharad Rees and a young Michael Kitchen. The disc also comes with an image gallery, trailer and a booklet. This is how you engage the horror audience. A splendid set.