|Index||4 reviews in total|
A bizarre yet watchable cross between a typical oater and a slasher film, KNIFE FOR THE LADIES (or better known as "Jack The Ripper Goes West" on DVD) is actually a fairly entertaining jumble of genres, aided by the one and only Jack "One-Eye" Elam as the town sheriff, a drunken, unwashed, temperamental SOB who loves his rotgut and loves to fight, all of which is exacerbated when a clean-cut private eye comes in from the big city to help the townsfolk stop an unknown murderer bumping off the women. Although the DVD version is obviously edited of some scenes, causing the story to leave gaps as big as the one in Terry-Thomas's smile,the film moves along at a good gallop until the somewhat predictable conclusion.
City private investigator Jeff Cooper travels to frontier backwater in
order to investigate the slasher murders of town matriarch Ruth Roman's
son and a gaggle of local prostitutes. Things are complicated by the
vigilante murder of a Mexican cowboy and brutish, old-school sheriff
Mildly entertaining drive-in trash, this benefits from the old low-rent sets and ancient costumes that were pretty much a sign of the times in the early seventies. You can practically smell the mothballs, though they (the set-pieces not the mothballs) make this low, low-budget western/horror flick almost look like a million bucks. The weird, very exploitative climax is fun too, as are the presences of Elam and Roman.
For a better Jack-the-ripper-goes-west story, watch the Episode of Dead Man's Gun aptly titled "The Ripper".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A Knife for the Ladies (or Jack the Ripper Goes West) is a weird mix of
genres. It's a Western with a slasher storyline running through it. A
mad killer is slashing the necks of prostitutes in the town of Mescal.
The sheriff, Jarrod (Jack Elam) seems incapable of finding the killer,
so the town's leaders bring in a private detective named Burns (Jeff
Cooper). Can Burns find the killer before Mescal's brothel is left
Overall, A Knife for the Ladies is one lousy movie. Neither the horror nor the Western elements work. Until the final scene, it's a total failure. Much of the problem comes from the fact that nothing looks real. The town is obviously a set it doesn't feel "real". The people are obviously actors playing parts. They're not "real" either. Jack Elam's old grizzled hard-drinking sheriff is so over-the-top that he's ridiculous. And Jeff Cooper's Burns is too 1970s to be authentic. A Knife for the Ladies' lone highlight comes in its finale. It's actually a nice twist that I honestly didn't see coming. I could have never guessed the killer's identity. But as nice as the ending may have been, I still can't bring myself to rate A Knife for the Ladies any higher than a 3/10 and that's being generous.
Finally, one especially annoying aspect A Knife for the Ladies is the way it tries to play the old-school sheriff against the more modern detective. But it's all talk. There's no evidence presented of any real clash between the old vs. new law enforcement techniques. It's as if someone involved with the movie's production thought this conflict would make a good storyline so they threw it into the movie without really adding it (if that makes any sense). Predictably, the old and new get into a completely unnecessary fistfight before they can work together. It's so forced it's painful.
Does this movie wanna be a western, giallo, comedy, mystery, or what?
This movie fails in every genre. If it's trying to be a western, it
fails entirely because the detective's 70s hairstyle, clothes, and
mannerisms will completely jar viewers out of the western setting. If
it's trying to be a giallo, it failed because most of the movie is
nonsensical filler that distracts from the killings. If it was trying
to be comedy, I didn't find anything intentionally funny, even by 70s
standards. If it's trying to be a mystery, it fails because the movie
gets so boring by the halfway mark that I fell asleep. I woke up
exactly when the killer was revealed, right at the end. When the killer
was revealed, I thought, "This movie is still on?" because by that
point I had lost so much interest in the movie I decided to go to bed
rather than waste time rewatching scenes I fell asleep during. In fact,
I turned it off before the credits rolled.
Boring, boring, boring, even by 70s standards. Boring characters where I didn't care who lived and who died. A western setting that is painfully obvious it's a movie set. And decided lack of tension or suspense in a movie that touts itself as a murder mystery. All in all, if you wanna fall asleep, put this crap on. If you wanna watch something even the tiniest bit memorable, don't bother with this.
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