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Conrado San Martín,
A Swiss-German horror film with Klaus Kinski as the notorious Jack the Ripper. A respected doctor by day, Kinski dismembers London prostitutes by night, until the local Inspector's girlfriend (Josephine Chaplin) goes undercover to catch him. Written by
The royal coat of arms shown outside Scotland Yard bears the letters ER - presumably for the current Queen: Elizabeth Regina. In 1888 when Jack the Ripper was loose Victoria was on the throne and the letters would have been VR: Victoria Regina. See more »
In several respects, this movie seems to be a little untypical for a Franco movie. Since Franco proposed the subject himself, the film seems to be a rather personal project. Nevertheless, it is one of his most conventional movies. One could say that it is a rather tame slasher movie.
Sexual perversion is still a subject, but in "Jack the Ripper" it is confined to the madmen and is not the general background. There is also some gore which - at least on some occasions - would have better been left out.
What is equally untypical for a Franco movie are the production values. One can see that Franco worked on a higher budget. The film plays most of the time during the night, and the night photography is carried out in an excellent way. The scene when Lina Romay is killed in a foggy park is certainly one of the best Franco has ever filmed. A funny fact here is that apart from a few exteriors (like Big Ben), all the movie was shot in Zuerich Switzerland. It is much fun to see how Franco has transformed this into London (especially if you know the places in Zuerich Franco used). The interiors are also nice and colourful, and this is complemented by the costumes. Finally, the great plus of the movie is that is has Klaus Kinsky in it. Kinsky was one of the few actors who could create a certain ambiance by their mere presence. Of course, Kinsky's acting is also very subtle. Especially, his transformations from philanthrop into madman and back.
The only thing which spoiled my viewing of "Jack the Ripper" a bit where some stupid beginner's mistakes by Franco. The two most obvious ones are: 1) Klaus Kinsky standing at the wrong side of the car when he "meets" the inspector's girl friend; 2) When Lina Romay is killed, the puppet used for the (cheap looking) gore effect is lit in a completely false color (maybe this is the producer's fault who might have insisted on including some gore). One less obvious mistake occurs at the beginning: The first hooker which is killed walks (on her way home!) back half the way she came.
All in all, "Jack the Ripper" is an atmospheric, unpretentious, and well directed slasher movie with a formidable Klaus Kinsky as the madman.
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