Director – Peter Sasdy
Cast – Eric Porter, Angharad Rees, Jane Merrow, Keith Bell, Derek Godfrey, Dorah Bryan, Marjorie Rhodes, Lynda Baron, Marjie Lawrence, Margaret Rawlings
Release Year – 1971
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Hammer films are well-known throughout the horror genre because of the cheap yet great films they gave us throughout the 60s and 70s, and Hands of the Ripper is one of my favorite Hammer films. With awesome direction and a great story, this is an older and lesser-known watch that has an uncanny ability to keep you glued to the screen.
Hands of the Ripper centers on the daughter of Jack The Ripper, Anna, who as a young child, witnessed her father brutally slay her mother in front of her. 15 years later she is adopted from an orphanage and used as a spiritual medium, but when something triggers her haunting experience she experienced as a child, the kills vehemently, and is left with no recollection of what she just did. This grabs the attention of Dr. John Pritchard(Eric Porter), who believes she is merely suffering a mental disease and not possession by her father’s evil spirit as his colleague suggests. Dr. Pritchard takes Anna into his home, who despite the generosity of the doctor, leaves a blood-stained memory Dr. Pritchard will soon regret.
Jack The Ripper is a very well-known figure in nearly all cultures and societies, yet surprisingly we do not get many films involving this awesome slasher in the horror genre. When I saw that this film involved his daughter, it sparked my interest because I had yet to see such an idea used in a film, and it worked great. Fans of anything having to do with psychology should find joy in this watch due to us seeing first-hand how a traumatic event that occurred during childhood can affect you later on in life. I really enjoyed watching the character of Anna as she was plunged into psychotic murderous rages when something minute would trigger her memory of what happened long ago, sending her into the same mindset as her murderous father. I must say though, that Dr. Pritchard was my favorite character to watch, mostly because of the fantastic performance from Eric Porter. He expertly delivers the horrors and concerns Dr. Pritchard faces as he comes across Anna and begins to seek a logical cure for what he believes is a logical and non-supernatural condition she is facing.
Director Peter Sasdy(Taste The Blood of Dracula, Countess Dracula) does a fantastic job executing this flick and bringing it to screen. The visuals are fantastic for such a low-budget watch, with awesome sets and camerawork that is simple, but works perfectly in selling the film to the viewer. As I mentioned earlier, he gets great performances from his actors, including some very admirable acting from Eric Porter. What really surprised me the most about this film was the gruesome nature of the kills. For a low-budget 70s flick I really did not expect to see any graphic kills, just simple ones. Well, I was very wrong, and very glad about it. We get some sweet and pretty gory kills for such a film, and they come with perfect execution from Peter Sasdy in his camerawork, the acting, and the bloody nature of the kills. Don’t you love it when films surprise you?
Overall, this is a fantastic and very under-appreciated Hammer flick that delivers a cool story, great performances, slick direction, and some sweet gory kills to lick your lips over. Check this one out.