Hands of the Ripper
Aida Young for Hammer
directed by Peter Sasdy
starring Eric Porter, Angharad Rees, Jane Merrow, Keith Bell, Derek Godfrey, Dora Bryan, Marjorie Rhodes, Lynda Baron, Marjie Lawrence, Margaret Rawlings, Elizabeth MacLennan, Barry Lowe, A.J.Brown, April Wilding, Anne Clune, Vicki Woolf, Katya Wyeth, Beulah Hughes, Tallulah Miller, Peter Munt, Philip Ryan, Molly Weir, Charles Lamb, Norman Bird, Ann Way
screenplay by L.W.Davidson, based on a story by Edward Spencer Shew, music by Christopher Gunning, musical direction by Philip Martell, special effects by Cliff Culley
Jack the Ripper
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Years ago, young Anna (Angharad Rees) has seen her father, who was also
Jack the Ripper, slaughter her mother. Now Anna works at medium Mrs
Golding's (Dora Bryan), providing the voices of the dead at her seances.
However, Mrs Golding is a greedy little woman, and at times she also has
Anna visited by gentleman-customers against money, if you catch my drift,
gentleman-customers like Dysart (Derek Godfrey), by day a respectable
politician, by night ... well.
Anyways, Dysart triggers something in the girl that makes her kill Mrs
Golding in a trance. Rather by chance, Doctor Pritchard (Eric Porter) sees
Dysart leave the house and finds Mrs Golding's body, but at the police, he
claims he can't identify Dysart - the logical suspect in the murder case
-, and sees to it that Anna is put in his care.
Why ? Simply because Pritchard is an early psychotherapist of the
Freudian school and he thinks the girl did indeed kill the older woman
(which she did of course), and now he wants to study her, believing she
suffers from schizophrenia. However, studying the girl soon leads to more
killings, including Pritchard's maid (Marjie Lawrence), a street hooker
(Lynda Baron) and a clairvoyant (Margaret Rawlings) - the last one killed
before Pritchard's very eyes -, who all had one thing in common, they
embraced and kissed Anna while some light was flickering, exactly like it
was when daddy killed mommy ...
But even though he has now seen her kill someone with his very eyes,
Pritchard doesn't give up trying to cure Anna - until he embraces and
kisses her while some light is flickering - ouch. Anna doesn't succeed in
quite killing Pritchard though, and he goes after her while she has hooked
up with Pritchard's daughter-in-law-to-be, blind Laura (Jane Merrow), and
the two have climbed to the gallery of Saint Paul's cathedral, when Anna
suddenly feels the urge to kill Laura - but with his dieing breath Doc
Pritchard calls up to her from down below, makes her see reason - and
causes her to jump down to her death ...
Interesting and slightly unusual Hammer film: While it's on one
hand the typical period piece set in the Victorian era, the film tries on
the other a vastly different approach by dabbling into Freudian psychology
(if only rather superficially) instead of going for the usual supernatural
approach (which unfortunately is given up in the finale when the girl's
state is rather unnecessarily blamed on possession than schizophrenia
after all), which makes this one a rather intelligent shocker. Add to this
the stylish direction, the convincing period sets, costumes and props and
the more than competent actors and actresses one has come to expect from a
Hammer film, and you've got quite an interesting film, done in a
period when Hammer's output in general rather deteriorated.