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Underrated Hammer Gem
I am an enthusiastic fan of the Hammer Studios, and my admiration for this brilliant Production Company gets greater with each film I see. The Hammer Studios are most famous for their films made in the late 50s and 60s, most prominently for the (awesome) "Dracula" and "Frankenstein" series. As far as I am considered, however, some of Hammer's films from the early 70s are just as brilliant as their older successes. One of their greatest and my personal favorite of their films, the brilliant "Vampire Circus" was made in 1972, for example, and the early 70s also brought a variety of other classics, such as "Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde" or "Scars Of Dracula", which is easily the nastiest entry to Hammer's Dracula series. "Hands Of The Ripper" of 1971 is yet another great Hammer production that is immensely atmospheric, genuinely creepy, well-acted and stunningly suspenseful, and an absolute must-see for every Horror-fan.

As a toddler, little Anna has to witness the murder of her mother by her own father - none other than the notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper himself. At the age of seventeen, Anna (Angharad Rees) lives at the house of an elderly lady, a phony medium who is perfectly willing to leave her 'granddaughter' to rich 'gentlemen' for money. After this 'grandmother' is brutally murdered, the rich doctor John Pritchard (Eric Porter), a humanist and follower of Siegmund Freud, decides to take custody of poor Anna, both out of sympathy and for research reasons...

"Hands Of The Ripper" is a vastly underrated Hammer gem that is ingenious in many aspects. The film is immensely creepy and scary, with a suspense level that is higher than in most Hammer flicks, and the murders are brutal and very bloody. The atmosphere is eerie and tense and, as usual for Hammer, the film is shot in great Gothic locations. The performances are great. Eric Porter delivers an excellent performance as Dr. Pritchard, and Angharad Rees deserves special praise for her outstanding performance in the role of Anna. All said, this is a shamefully underrated film. Creepy, stylish, excellently acted and stunningly suspenseful from the beginning to the end "Hands Of The Ripper" is a great gem from Hammer that no lover of Horror can afford to miss!
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Interesting period Hammer production.
capkronos25 February 2004
Orphaned teenager Anna (innocent-looking Angharad Rees) is placed under the care of the awful Mrs. Golding (Dora Bryan), a fake medium who uses her in moneymaking schemes and pimps her out to customers, which leads to her murder. Anna is adopted by Dr. John Pritchard (Eric Porter), an early follower of Freudian philosophy, who tries to help Anna when it's revealed she's the daughter of Jack the Ripper with homicidal tendencies of her own after seeing dear old dad murder mum as a child. Dr. Pritchard is so obsessed with Anna and his research that he isn't above covering up the murders that follow.

The performances are first-rate, the turn-of-the-century London flavor is accurately captured, the murders are pretty bloody for the time and there's a great, subdued ending at the "Gallery of Whispers." Fine period horror from Hammer Studios, originally shown on a double bill with TWINS OF EVIL.

Score: 7 out of 10
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One of the most interesting Hammer movies.
Infofreak9 November 2002
'Hands Of The Ripper' is one of the most interesting Hammer movies. An odd mixture of Edwardian costume drama, pop psychology and proto-slasher gore, which may not be 100% successful, but it does make for some fascinating viewing. Eric Porter (who some may remember from the 60s TV series 'The Forsyte Saga') is perfectly cast as the detached and driven Dr John Pritchard who unexpectedly encounters Jack The Ripper's daughter Anna (the lovely Angharad Rees). She has no idea of her background and is working for a fraudulent medium that Pritchard and his son visit. After Anna is implicated in a brutal and bloody murder he "adopts" her, and hopes to unlock her secrets using the new fangled theories of one Sigmund Freud. Can he help this confused and potentially lethal young woman before she kills again? I leave it up to you to find out. While I don't rate this one quite as highly as many, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it is yet another example of just how most of Hammer's output has been largely underrated over the years.
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Jacqueline The Ripper!
Coventry18 January 2007
Particularly all the sour people, who continuously claim that the Hammer Studio ran out of inspiration and professionalism during the early 1970's, should view "Hands of the Rippers", as this is still a highly inventive and marvelously put together period piece. The basic premise of this film is perhaps one of the most ingenious ones ever to come out of the legendary British studios and director Peter Sasdy presents the wholesome with great emphasis on both suspense AND gory bloodshed! The French version's title (which I own) literally translates as "The Ripper's Daughter" and this sums up the synopsis much better than the official title ever could. During the opening sequence, the notorious late 19th Century London serial killer Jack the Ripper is identified by his own wife and their little girl – Anna – painfully witness how her mother too gets slaughtered by her father the monster. Years later, the shy and introvert girl is under the custody of a phony spiritual medium/female pimp but her traumatic memories come to the surface and force her hands to kill as well. Dr. John Pritchard, an early follower of Sigmund Freud, takes Anna in his house and hopes to cure her disturbed behavior by using therapy. However, since he doesn't know what exactly inflicts Anna's murderous rage, several more people (even inside Pritchard's household) are killed. "Hands of the Ripper" lacks a bit of star-power (no Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee in the cast), but the film is fast-paced and the originality of the plot results in multiple tense sequences. Moreover, the setting of London during the turn of the century is greatly captured, with people slowly recovering from the actual Jack the Ripper murder case and reverting too easily to fear & hysteria when it seems there's a new maniac on the loose in the city. The murders are sensational and really, really gruesome and they're extra shocking since nearly all victims (all but one, actually) are sympathetic characters you didn't wish this cruel fate for. This is also one of more intelligent Hammer films, as the screenplay efficiently blends together historical horror with accurate psychological theories and yet still manages to throw in some pure camp and typical Hammer-brutality! The climax, set in the St.Paul Cathedral's gallery of whispers, is breathtaking and almost hauntingly poetic. Truly one of Hammer's most underrated and sadly forgotten horror-highlights.
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Underrated Hammer film.
Snake-66618 January 2004
While just a young child, Anna (Angharad Rees) witnesses the brutal murder of her mother by father ‘Jack the Ripper'. Fifteen years later she begins to enter trances and appears to be possessed by the Ripper himself. A friendly psychiatrist, Dr. Pritchard (Eric Porter), unaware of her past and believing her problems to be purely in the mind takes Anna in while he attempts to cure her. However, he soon regrets his decision.

‘Hands of the Ripper' is a rather underrated and enjoyable Hammer film. The film is slow, methodical and story based which may not appeal to those who like lots of `action' in their flicks, but anyone who likes classic horror wonderfully entwined with a near-gripping thriller should find something enjoyable in ‘Hands of the Ripper'. Director Peter Sasdy does well in building the tension and ensuring that the audience remains enthralled throughout the slower paced thriller aspects. Peter Sasdy does his best in making the most of the screenplay and adds some wonderful touches to the visuals of the film which really stand out and help to make the movie what it is. The sporadic flashback sequences may not be entirely original in horror but few are quite as effective. Some beautiful and often despairingly solemn musical arrangements accompany the film and induce the necessary mood in the viewer in order to fully appreciate this interesting piece of cinema.

The film is made all that better by some great performances from Eric Porter, Angharad Rees and Derek Godfrey in the short role of Dysart. Unfortunately, while one expects a certain degree of camp from a hammer movie, there did seem to be a slight overabundance of camp or hammy performances from some of the cast. However, one can take solace in knowing that the majority of these moments were towards the beginning of the film. Sadly, the poor performances were not the only thing that damaged this movie. There was an occasional lack in useful dialogue which lead to some of the scenes seeming distracted or unbelievable. This was accompanied by a couple of scenes which seemed bizarre and incoherent in their reasoning of the characters actions.

Nevertheless, the film manages to entertain and should hold the interest of fans of other Hammer films. Compared to modern day horror movies, ‘Hands of the Ripper' is a slow moving film that probably has little appeal for the `nu-horror' fans but fans of classic horror should find the film to worthy of at least one watch. The death scenes may be a little of an anti-climax and there are some storyline problems, but ‘Hands of the Ripper' is an entertaining movie that seems to be rather underrated. A bizarre yet enjoyable mixture of horror, thriller, period drama and the work of Sigmund Freud. My rating for ‘Hands of the Ripper' – 7/10.
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A flickering light leads to the kiss of death.
lost-in-limbo20 June 2006
Jack the Ripper's young daughter Anna; witness the grisly murder that her father committed against her mother. Many years have past and she been adopted by an old lady who fakes being a medium with the help of the girl. But one night these traumatic memories of her mother's death and her father kissing her cause to enter a trance because of a glittering light and she murders whoever decides to kiss her. A psychiatrist - Dr John Pritchard is an idealist that decides to take her in, as he believes he can discover and eventually cure the girl's unstable condition.

Like father… daughter will follow. Well, the voices in her head made sure. After watching this - I couldn't believe director Peter Sasdy went from this credible Hammer flick to the ridiculously monstrous "I Don't Want to Born" that I watched only a fortnight ago. Um, "Hand of the Ripper" is quite a big step up. "Taste the blood of Dracula" is even better. This Hammer production takes on the Jack the Ripper legend with a quite different and cerebral angle. Amongst psychological edge -- there's even a slasher touch about it. But those looking for high camp might be slightly disappointed. The skillful direction by Sasdy conjures up some flair, outlandishly violent deaths and a hauntingly, harrowing conclusion. The workman like production injects a very detailed and quite realistic backdrop of the grimy period. The empowering, but professionally orchestrated score is hard to shake as it works around with the moods effectively. Acting from the cast was very solid even if they had somewhat stilted characters. Eric Porter gave a strong performance as the determined doctor who has his own personal agenda and the ravishing Angharad Rees is naturally good as (daddy's little girl) Anna. Now onto the weakest points. The muddled story is fuelled by many ideas, but still it has some illogical aspects and certain reasoning's that just don't rub off. The script probably does ponder on with some unusual turns, being flooded with scientific jargon and unconvincing relationships that don't really lead anywhere. For some the pacing could be quite slow and while; I didn't find it spectacular and filled with such excitement, but there was enough going on to keep me watching.

Hammer's latter day effort is a above-average and polished presentation that receives more ticks than crosses.
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Another excellent film from Hammer!
The_Void3 April 2005
I'm a big fan of Hammer Horror; their inventive camp styling puts their output above the majority of other horror studios. Adding to that is the fact that when you watch a Hammer film, you know that you're in for a good time. While Hands of the Ripper isn't the best film to come out of the studio, it still represents another success for the studio and it's a film that will no doubt delight their fans. The great plot line follows the daughter of the infamous murderer; Jack the Ripper. After witnessing her father kill her mother, the young girl is permanently scarred and now, years later, her past is beginning to surface. The film finds a space between a psychological thriller and the familiar 'slasher' sub-genre (and it's yet another film in this style that pre-dates Halloween), and it blends brilliantly. The first thing you will notice about this movie is the way that the murders are done - stylishly, brutally and extremely camp! They're extremely over the top and a great treat for the horror fanatic.

Eric Porter stars as a psychiatrist who takes our heroine in after she murdered the woman who was looking after. Porter gives a fine performance as the good doctor, and keeps in with the style of the older leading male that Hammer have created. The film is noteworthy for it's excellent creation of the period in which the film is set, and that too adds to the delight of the film. One thing that I have noticed about Hammer's product as they entered the seventies is that the films lost that colourful camp edge that epitomised the earlier films and it had been replaced by a more European style. Captain Kronos is the prime example of that change, but luckily Hands of the Ripper is more like the Hammer films of yore. Not as colourful, but it still has that Hammer charm that us fans love so much. As usual, the film isn't quite perfect; it's dogged by a less than perfect script, and at times the psychological elements of the film ground down to walking pace, which makes the film boring; but generally this is a lovely piece of kitsch and Hammer fans won't be disappointed!
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The Hands That Rock the Cradle
BaronBl00d29 July 2001
Not your typical Hammer vehicle starring Eric Porter as a doctor, influenced by the work of Sigmund Freud, who wants to study a young 17 year-old girl he knows to be a murderer. Porter thinks by analyzing her past he can find out why people murder and maybe prevent the act of murder in the human race in the process. The film is interesting in its objectives yet is a bit uneven in its execution. Directed by Peter Sasdy, who has obvious talent and directed Taste the Blood of Dracula nd Countess Dracula, the film works very hard at focussing on the relationship of childhood memories with adult behaviour, but at the same time wants to incorporate typical Hammer stuff such as big bosoms busting through stretched corsets and lots of blood and bizarre deaths. Angharad Rees plays the murderous daughter of the Whitechapel killer who as a child saw her mother brutally killed and then was orphaned. She does a good job as do all the actors. My biggest problem is with Porter, not his performance, but his character's motivation. I find it a little difficult to believe that a man supposedly intelligent would be so amoral, for he definitely seems to think that he is doing nothing wrong. The film is not all talk. There are several murders, all fairly brutal in their execution(no pun intended). The most ridiculous of these has to be a woman killed by her pince-nez glasses...but I'll let you decide if murder by pince-nez is realistic or not. There are some wonderful scenes too and the climatic one in St. Pauls is extremely powerful.
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A fine film that deserves more recognition in the Hammer oeuvre
weho9006911 December 2002
Warning: Spoilers

HANDS OF THE RIPPER is a well crafted, entertaining dose of period-Victorian horror in which a comely but spiritually lost girl, the daughter of Jack the Ripper (Angharad Rees), has tragically and unknowingly inherited her father's penchant for killing -- she goes into a murderous trance whenever kissed on the cheek!

Angharad Rees acquits herself well in the role of amnesiac Anna. Her performance arouses pity for her character, a true victim of her own unfortunate birth and of circumstances-which-are-beyond-her-control. Eric Porter is a fine choice for "Dr. John", Anna's self appointed patron, and seems packed with ambition as well as interesting character flaws. An interesting touch: the fiancee of Porter's son (Jane Merrow) is blind, and Porter appears to despise her for a variety of reasons, ranging from her obvious clumsiness to the old "she's-not-good-enough-for-my-son" notion, to the thought that she will take over the position his late wife held in the household. Here we have a bit more depth to the characters than one might expect from a later Hammer effort, and it is most welcome.

Once it's established that young Anna is bound to go on killing spree after spree (before she is ultimately restrained), we get to settle back and relish the creative flair brought to each of the killings, and suspense abounds prior to each of the gristly murders. Entranced, Anna appears to be accomplished at improvising, grabbing nearby, everyday items, and turning them into weapons of destruction. This is truly chilling! To illustrate: fake medium Dora Bryan is impaled with a common fireplace poker onto a door (hoisted on her own deceitful petard!)...a handful of innocuous hatpins are thrust into the eye of a streetwalker...and a shattered hand-mirror almost unbelievably forms a makeshift dagger with which Anna disposes of her maid. The deaths are all very clever, stylish, and colorful set-pieces.

The big finale, with Eric Porter coaxing Ms Rees into a spectacular deathfall from the uppermost ("Whispering") gallery of St. Paul's cathedral seems operatic in its grandeur and effect, yet solemn and touching as well.

There is a wholly appropriate surfeit of melancholy throughout this production that some might argue is distasteful, but I believe it adds significantly to the tragic cause. Contributing greatly to this is Christopher Gunning's score which stands out as one of Hammer's best. Gunning captures the introspective mood, childlike innocence, and sad beauty of Anna. [This "main theme" sounds as though it might have been composed by the great Erik Satie.] The tumultuous, horrific eruptions of Jack the Ripper which surface any time Anna is kissed come through in whirling orchestral frissons.

This is probably the high point in director Peter Sasdy's career (the lowpoint being, arguably, a tawdry but entertainingly dreadful excursion known as THE LONELY LADY (1982) which was supposed to be a rocket-to-stardom vehicle for Pia Zadora, but which remains highly regarded as one of cinema's biggest forays into bad taste. HANDS OF THE RIPPER, on the other hand, is an achievement of which Sasdy has every right to be very, very proud.

Beware of TV versions that Universal purchased, re-edited, and spoiled by adding footage featuring two doctors in a library discussing Anna's case. It's wholly unnecessary garbage, and detracts greatly from the deliberate unfolding of the story. Universal did similar butchery on its TV print of TWINS OF EVIL, the box office counterpart to HANDS OF THE RIPPER. One can only imagine how terrific a double feature those two films would have made at the time (sadly, I was too young to receive my parents permission to see these films theatrically).

Hopefully HANDS OF THE RIPPER will be a Hammer horror to arrive soon on DVD, complete, and well handled. With so much hooplah made about Hammer's most famous projects (HORROR OF DRACULA, CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, et.al.), it's a shame HANDS OF THE RIPPER often gets overlooked by fans, and therefore by the public as well.

For a late-Hammer effort, HANDS OF THE RIPPER is among the company's best efforts.
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HANDS OF THE RIPPER (Peter Sasdy, 1971) ***
Bunuel197619 October 2008
This is one of four Peter Sasdy films shown on local TV in the early 1980s when we still owned a black-and-white set and I was too young to be allowed to see them! Over the years, I managed to catch up with three of them: the film under review itself while in London in September 2002, TASTE THE BLOOD OF Dracula (1970) fairly recently on DivX and NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT (1972) just last week on DVD-R; the only one still eluding me is, reportedly, also the weakest of the bunch, I DON'T WANT TO BE BORN aka MONSTER (1975)…

This is arguably Sasdy's best work for Hammer and I guess overall, too; similarly, Eric Porter's excellent performance is very underrated and among the best given in the studio's entire output. The film contains two very well-directed sequences: the slow build-up to the revelation of the first murder and the very last scene featuring the fatal leap off the balcony at the Whispering Corridors. The sleazy MP character (Derek Godfrey) and the opportunistic protector/medium (Dora Bryan) are two other well-rounded characterizations; on the other hand, those of Porter's son and blind fiancée (a wasted Jane Merrow) are bland and one-dimensional. In spite of its importance in establishing the girl's true identity, the doctor's second visit to a medium could perhaps have been altered to a different profession so that it does not seem reminiscent of the opening séance. Curiously enough, Hammer visited similar Jack The Ripper territory that same year in Roy Ward Baker's DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE; besides, while the murder of the proverbial kind-hearted whore is again well-staged, the generally clichéd portrayal of them borders on caricature.

The Network SE DVD features an Audio Commentary (which I've yet to listen to) and an episode of the 1970s THRILLER TV series featuring HANDS OF THE RIPPER's co-star Angharad Rees whose good and innocent looks are effectively deployed in the blank stare of the entranced protagonist.
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Watchable but somewhat glum Hammer Horror
Prichards1234520 July 2014
Hands of The Ripper is a well made but slow-paced 1971 offering from Hammer. Some nice acting from Eric Porter and Angharad Rees offers some compensation for a rather lugubrious tale of Jack The Ripper's daughter, who, when subjected to sparkly flashes of light followed by a kiss (which happens about five times in the movie, straining credulity to breaking point) is psychically possessed by the spirit of her old Dad, dispatching all and sundry in variously nasty ways.

As a take on the Ripper story, this doesn't really work. As usual the prostitutes on display here are mainly glamour types with little attention to veracity (a few matronly ladies do make it into the mix) and Eric Porter's Freudian Doctor is surely the most misguided psychoanalyst ever put on screen, even disposing of the bodies when Anna kills.

Horror movies were soon to descend to body count status and this is a kind of prototype. We get Dora Bryan impaled on a poker, Marji Lawerence's throat gorily slashed and Lynda Byron with hat pins stuck in her eye. Squelch! The main trouble with Hammer at this point is that they were making too many horror films - haven't counted exactly but about 12 in 1970/71 alone. They flooded the market and diminished audience interest. Still, on it's own Hands of The Ripper is not a bad little film. Earnest and rather glum, with an effective ending set in St Paul's Whispering Gallery.
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the things to notice
samhill521521 June 2014
TCM just aired this and like all the other Hammer films I enjoyed it a great deal. They're not cinematic achievements but they are fun and that's one of film's aspects I really appreciate. I also tend to look at technical aspects and the first thing that struck me is how fake the moustaches looked. The beards looked better but now I wonder. The second, I'm embarrassed to write, was Marjie Lawrence's cleavage which may not be how she would like to be remembered given her extensive body of work. Did they really dress like that in Victorian England? I'd also never seen Angharad Rees before nor had I even heard of her but then I found out this was her first co-starring and second film role and I was intrigued. And, incidentally, that's another thing I like about Hammer: they find and highlight young talent. Anyway lots of good talent here, a lot from TV, presumably because they come cheaper. Some goofs like when Rees begins to sit while her host invites her to do so. But I'm getting technical again. Eric Porter is great. He manages to save the day even skewered by a cavalry sabre. Which brings up another goof: the thing must be five feet long but you can't see the other end sticking out of Porter's body. Good final scene, good score, worth a viewing.
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Wonderful Ripper film
rose-29428 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Saucy Jack has a possessed daughter who kills people in Edwardian London. No, this is not your typical slasher. The film looks fantastic, beautiful but atmospheric - actually, the visuals are a total antithesis of that sleazy and cheap period when it was made - and the characters are sympathetic and interesting. Angelic purity and innocence of psychotic Anna who does not know she is used by Jack to murder other people gives a nice contrast to her dangerousness. The sour but sympathetic psychiatrist who takes Anna to his family to study her and the impulses of murderers means well - and pays the ultimate price for it. Another great Hammer film and certainly much, much better than the average IMDb rating claims.
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Nice premise, shame about the execution
DPMay5 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The title of this early 1970s horror film from the fondly-remembered Hammer studio might lead one to believe this is a film primarily about the exploits of real-life 19th Century serial killer Jack The Ripper. Indeed, the film opens with the Ripper fleeing the scene of his latest murder. Whilst a dollop of accuracy is supplied in the use of the name Berner Street (one of the actual murder sites), but all attempts at adhering to fact would appear to end there, for the Ripper is yet again portrayed in the stereotypical, but ludicrous, image of top hat and flowing cape, with his modus operandi taking the form of savage, frenzied stabbing rather than the more calculated throat-cutting and mutilation that were the hallmarks of the actual murders.

This Jack arrives home and suddenly decides it would be a good idea to murder his wife too, watched by his infant daughter. So ends the set-up, and after the credits the story moves forward 15 years or so.

We never find out what happened to Jack, but his daughter, Anna, has now grown up and is the ward of the uncaring Mrs Golding who uses Anna not only to assist with the fake séances she holds to gain money from the gullible, but also to force Anna into prostitution.

However, Anna has a habit of falling into a trance, whereupon she savagely murders the nearest person. It is all a little vague as to whether she is possessed by her late father's spirit or whether this has just come about because of the trauma of witnessing her mother's brutal murder.

Mrs Golding falls prey to this murderous behaviour, at which point Dr John Pritchard takes custody of Anna. He has heard from the only witness to Mrs Golding's murder, Dysart, how Anna kills and is keen to study the minds of murderers so that he can identify precisely what makes them kill and, perhaps, effect a cure. This obsession of his leads him to protect Anna from the police after she kills one of his maids, a prostitute, and a medium.

Whilst there are some interesting concepts, the whole films lurches from one gory killing to another without much sense of direction or progression. Anna, we are expected to believe, kills somebody every time she is kissed. If, indeed, this is the case, it seems very far fetched that her murders have never attracted attention before.

Dr Pritchard seems a very unsympathetic character, showing absolutely no remorse when one of his servants is killed or taking any steps to safeguard his other staff, friends, family or anybody else. We don't see very much of his attempting to find the reason for Anna's homicidal mania, he actually finds out more about her from a royal spiritualist with whom he and Anna had an appointment not of his making. When Anna kills this spiritualist he just takes her away, apparently without any worry that they will be obvious suspects for this crime! Thrown into the mix is Pritchard's son and his fiancé Laura, who is blind. Laura's blindness serves very little purpose in the plot, though it would appear that most of the other characters suffer a degree of blindness too: the police fail to take notice of the sudden spate of murders, nobody seems to notice when Anna is in one of her trances, Anna herself doesn't seem to question her blackouts...

Ultimately Pritchard himself falls victim to Anna's violence, having a sword plunged through him. We assume this staunches the bleeding, since there is surprisingly little sign of blood, so being a medical man he pulls the sword out again (probably the worst thing you could do). He then miraculously has the strength to get all the way to St Paul's where Laura has taken Anna for a rousing climax in the inspired backdrop of the cathedral's whispering gallery.

Too many plot threads are just forgotten about or don't go anywhere. Why was Pritchard at the fake séance at the start of the film? Why does police interest cease after the first murder rather than increasing with each successive one? Why does Pritchard wisely start using restraints on Anna, then stop again? Ultimately this film might have been more tense if there was a feeling that the net was closing in around Pritchard, and that both he and Anna were wrestling with their own consciences but there is none of this, and the ending subsequently feels rather inconsequential. On the plus side the period setting looks very good (if a little clichéd at times - why must all vigilante mobs carry flaming torches?) and there are some reliable actors at work here, not least Eric Porter in the main role of Pritchard. It's not a poor film, but the plot is more lightweight than it should have been given the premise, and relies on the shock-factor of its killings to maintain interest.
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Ripping Yarn
Ali_John_Catterall15 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
From Hitchcock's The Lodger to Murder By Decree, Time After Time and From Hell, the legend of Jack the Ripper has provided cinema-goers with plenty of ripping yarns over the years. Among the better efforts is Hands Of The Ripper (originally screened in a double-bill alongside Twins Of Evil), an absorbing melodrama in the Hands Of Orlac-mode from Hammer at their most experimental.

Angharad Rees stars as Anna, who as a toddler witnessed her mother's murder at the hands of her father, Jack the Ripper. Raised in near-feral isolation by her aunt, the phoney medium-cum-brothel keeper Mrs Golding (Bryan), the first indication of her troubled past comes when she slaughters her guardian by pinning her to a door with a poker.

Dysart (Godfrey), Anna's aborted trick, and an oily but influential MP, believes she's possessed. "If she wasn't, how could she manage, a frail girl, to drive a poker through the flesh and bone of a human body plus an inch-and-a-half oak door?" Recently bereaved physician and nascent Freudian Dr John Pritchard (Porter) isn't so sure. "The hysteria accompanying certain mental disorders can produce great strength," he muses and, blackmailing Dysart, Pritchard (whom Anna amusingly calls "Dr John") takes the hairy-handed girl into his patronage with a view to getting to the root of her psychopathic tendencies.

"'Pygmalion' with blood," a reviewer called it at the time. It soon transpires that a particular chain of events makes Anna go ape; either by accidentally being put into a trance-like, highly-suggestible state by a proximity to glittering lights (resembling the flickering fireplace her father slaughtered her mother in front of) - or kissed (just as daddy Jack did to her, before fleeing into the night).

Thus, the plot is driven along by shoehorning any such occurrence into the film at regular and grisly intervals, all but prompting viewers, panto-fashion, to yell at Anna's would-be victims to hide their sparkly necklaces under a roll-neck sweater or proffer a handshake instead. "Miss Anna," coos Pritchard's maid Dolly, draping a twinkling locket round her neck, "you look just like a little doll, all done up to meet the Queen," seconds before she has her throat slashed. And stabbed - can't be too careful.

"Rest and care," thinks the irresponsible Pritchard, privately disposing of the body. After all, what price a dead maid or prostitute when ranged against the great Freud? "Don't you see?" he berates a highly unimpressed Dysart, "I'm on the way to a discovery that might change the whole perception of crime and punishment." "The only cure for her," comes the blunt retort, "is a length of rope." It's like a column-off between the 'Guardian' and the 'Daily Mail'.

A visit to esteemed psychic Madame Bullard (Rawlings) finally uncovers Anna's parentage, if not her father's identity: "I can't tell you who Jack the Ripper is," she trembles. "But I warn you, the violence of that man is still in this girl. She is, what I would call, possessed..."

Directed by Peter Sasdy, who'd go on to direct cult items Doomwatch and Nigel Kneale's The Stone Tape, Hands Of The Ripper - based on a short story by Edward Spencer Shew - remains a laudable attempt by Hammer to try something a little different. Suffused with a sense of melancholy throughout, it ranks among the studio's greatest achievements, owing to its combination of terrific scripting, nuanced performances (Porter's being stand-out) and a superior score from Christopher Gunning, along with its particularly gruesome and inventive set-pieces (censored by the BBFC at the time, and later restored).

Its recreation of turn-of-the-century London is highly convincing (the credited gallery of 'Cell Whores' and 'Pub Whores' give some indication of its flavour), while the climactic fall from St Paul's Cathedral's Whispering Gallery is justly celebrated as one of the most moving and poetic climaxes in the genre; not bad going for a low-budget horror flick.

It has its flaws, certainly: if Hammer hoped to provide fuel for the nature v nurture debate, the 'Freudian' reasoning behind Anna's condition seems a little pat, and there are some unintentionally comic moments; everyone seems to take Anna's catatonic trances for granted, burbling away to her as if they haven't noticed she's started to attract woodworm.

Jack's whispered refrain of "Annnaaa..." in her ear every time she's kissed is hammier than a pig farm, while the 'will-he-won't-he-kiss-her' subtext between Anna and Pritchard is distracting. The subplot, featuring Pritchard's son and his blind fiancée is also a transparent contrivance - their inclusion, an over-indulged set-up for the finale.

Nevertheless, Hammer must be applauded for jettisoning the usual supernatural suspects in favour of psychology, yet there's even a subtly suggested ambiguity about that too. Is Anna simply traumatised or genuinely possessed?

Dysart and Pritchard's sparring might be seen as a microcosm for the superficially opposed dialectics of spiritualism and science then galavanising the nation, until the psychic fall-out from the Great War tipped some of our most enquiring minds headlong into reactionary occultism.

In fact, the most chilling moment in Hands Of The Ripper doesn't concern itself with the murders at all. It's when Jack the Ripper talks to his daughter, hopelessly lost in her own head: "What are dreams, and what's real, Anna? I never know."
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The Sceptic Proved Wrong
JamesHitchcock15 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The sceptic-who-is-proved-wrong is a familiar figure in horror films. As soon as we hear the words "I don't believe in ghosts/witches/vampires/whatever" we know that retribution is lurking just around the corner. In some films this retribution will take no more serious form than the humiliation of being forced to eat one's words, but in others the forces of the supernatural will take bloody revenge on those who wrong them by doubting their existence.

"Hands of the Ripper" brings a new twist to this theme. Dr. John Pritchard is an eminent psychiatrist in Edwardian London who brings one of his patients, a young woman named Anna, into his home. This might seem a risky thing to do, as Pritchard is well aware (although the police are not) that Anna is not only mentally unstable but also a murderess. Pritchard, however, is an enthusiastic Freudian who believes that the new science of psychoanalysis will enable him not only to find out the cause of her murderous impulses but also to cure them.

Pritchard's theory is that Anna is suffering from a psychiatric illness caused by the subconscious memory of some childhood trauma. Given what the audience knows about Anna, this is in fact a pretty shrewd guess. She is the daughter of none other than Jack the Ripper. The Ripper's precise identity is never made clear, but it would appear that he is a gentleman of some wealth and social position. (Unlike some other Ripper films, this one does not try and blame the killings on the Duke of Clarence or anyone else connected with the Royal Family). As a child Anna witnessed her father killing her mother, who had guessed that her husband was the Ripper.

This being a Hammer film, however, there has to be a more complex explanation for Anna's criminality. Although Pritchard as a scientific rationalist would disdain any supernatural explanation for evil, it transpires that Anna is possessed by her father's spirit and that he is using her as a vehicle to carry out further murders from beyond the grave. Pritchard is guilty of the sin of hubris- the hubris of believing that his scientific methods can cure her- and he therefore has to accept the moral responsibility when Anna, contrary to his confident predictions, does indeed kill again.

Eric Porter was an actor I often associated with portrayals of rather stiff, middle-aged middle-class gentlemen like Soames Forsyte in the famous BBC adaptation of "The Forsyte Saga" or Karenin in "Anna Karenina", and Dr. Pritchard is such another such character, a respectable pillar of the Edwardian bourgeoisie who finds it difficult to show emotion or to comprehend that there may be matters in heaven and earth not dreamed of in his tidy, rational philosophy. Anna is played by Angharad Rees, an actress who was later to find fame in another BBC serial, "Poldark", which was responsible for a brief surge in the popularity of the baptismal names "Angharad" and "Demelza" (the name of her character) throughout Britain in the mid-seventies. To be honest, Angharad was never the most expressive of actresses, even in "Poldark", but that does not really matter in this film, as there appears to have been a deliberate intention to play Anna as wooden and emotionless in order to emphasise the fact that she is under the control of an exterior force.

"Hands of the Ripper" is at times over-the-top and melodramatic, although if it weren't it would hardly be a Hammer film. Some of the attempts at humour seem a bit forced (such as the fake séance conducted by Anna's guardian, the fraudulent medium Mrs Golding) and some of the death scenes might seem unintentionally humorous by modern standards. Overall, however, this is one of the more inventive and original entries in the Hammer canon- certainly more original than a lot of their standard vampire fare- and can make for enjoyable late-night watching. 6/10
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I actually quite liked this one...
poolandrews9 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Hands of the Ripper starts in Victorian London at Berner Street Whitechappel where the infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper has struck again, as the Rippers young child named Anna watches on she witnesses the brutal murder of her Mother by her Father after she discovers that he is the Ripper... Jump forward several years later & Anna (Angharad Rees) is now a beautiful teenage girl who has been adopted by fake spiritualist Mrs. Golding (Dora Bryan), one night after a organised séance Mrs. Golding accepts money from a minister named Dysart (Derek Godfrey) who wants to have underage sex with her. To try & calm her down Dysart gives her a necklace which gleams in the light, unfortunately this bright light brings back the memory of her Father murdering her Mother & she becomes possessed by her Father's spirit at which point she kills Mrs. Golding. Outside a respected scientist named Dr. John Pritchard (Eric Porter) hears the screams & rushes to investigate, he discovers Mrs. Goldings body & realise Anna must have been responsible but instead of turning her over to the police he takes her in in an attempt to discover the motivations behind a murderer & to try & 'cure' her. However, Anna can't stop killing as her Father continues to possess her under the right circumstances...

This English production was directed by Peter Sasdy & was presumably an attempt by Hammer studios to try something different from it's well know Dracula & Frankenstein series of films, personally I really liked it for what it was even though I know it's not that well known or thought of that highly which is a shame. The script by L.W. Davidson was based on a short printed story by Edward Spencer Shew & seems to take itself very seriously which I thought it just about got away with, the basic concept is rather far fetched & silly but I thought it worked quite well & was something a bit different even if it unfolds in a slightly predictable & linear way. Some of the character's are a bit underdeveloped & some of them are a bit dull but that's probably how people behaved in Victorian London. The film moves along at a nice pace & is never boring plus it has a nice ending which seemed very fitting. The only thing which didn't really work for me was that it didn't take much for Anna to go into here trance & be possessed & since it was so easy why had it never happened before? Oh & I personally wouldn't let a person who had just slit my maids throat in cold blood walk around my house & do whatever she wanted especially while my family was there!

Director Sasdy does a nice job, I personally love these period horror films & Hammer did 'em as well as anyone. I love the Victorian setting, the sets, the costumes which display plenty of cleavage, the mannerisms, the horse drawn carriage's, the dialogue & decor, Hands of the Ripper is dripping with atmosphere & it looks great throughout. There's some decent gore in Hands of the Ripper too, someone is impaled with a poker, people are stabbed with swords & hat pins, there's more blood than in the usual Hammer film from the period & a great scene when Anna slits someone's throat & sticks the knife in there as well for good measure.

Technically Hands of the Ripper is good, it's well made with nice production values, photography & music. The acting was very good by all involved & I actually think it helps the film that none of the Hammer regulars were used like Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing.

Hands of the Ripper is one of Hammers lesser known, lesser liked films I believe. Well, that's nonsense because it's a fine film that I enjoyed watching on various levels. In my humble opinion Hands of the Ripper is one of Hammers better films, definitely worth watching especially if you like horror or Hammer.
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Hands of the Ripper
Scarecrow-8811 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
A doctor attempts to cure the daughter of Jack the Ripper through Freudian psychology, but can not keep her from following in father's footsteps, her mania triggered by light reflected from glass(..mostly a diamond of some sort) and a kiss to the cheek.

The film opens with the Ripper fleeing the authorities and a mob of locals into his home, killing his wife after she discovers he's the serial killer, with his daughter, Anna, experiencing the whole ordeal from her crib. Years later, Anna(Angharad Rees) is assisting a con-artist who claims to communicate with the dead, while also used as a prostitute for wealthy members of society. Her first violent outburst leads to the murder of her guardian, in front of a member of Parliament, Dysart(Derek Godfrey). Dysart exits from the building while Dr. John Pritchard(Eric Porter)follows the scream noticing him in the process, soon discovering Anna in paralyzed state, as if lost mentally to her surroundings. Pritchard doesn't implicate Dysart, using his pull to search the background history of Anna, hoping to uncover her past. Pritchard wishes to understand the state of mine of a killer..why does she kill? Anna will be his example, guinea pig, and this will come with a price. Anna will continue to kill as long as the Ripper inside holds a power in her subconscious, and Pritchard's attempts to cover up her crimes will soon cost him dearly. Pritchard will be aided by the testimony of a medium who sees the incident after "previewing the memories of that very night" from Anna's mind, her in a state of hypnosis, resulting in a disconcerting situation when Jack is triggered once again accidentally.

Startlingly violent Hammer film, again mines the mythos of Jack the Ripper, this time using the possibility of a daughter who may've experienced his murderous tendencies, effected psychologically to the point that she's an unwilling tool for his continued mayhem. You can actually hear his voice whispering for her to kill. Most of the time, a woman casts a friendly kiss to Anna's cheek, her face freezing into a blank stare, resulting in some sort of sharp blade killing them. A maid is sliced across the throat. A prostitute offers her a place to rest, resulting in her face being stabbed by hair pins(..this grisly scene has the poor woman attempting to shield her face by her hand, the pins going through it and into her eye!). Another victim is actually penetrated through the body with a sword(..in a awe-inspiring moment, the victim uses a door handle to remove it). Keith Bell is Pritchard's son, Michael. Jane Merrow is Michael's blind fiancé, Laura(..she's the potential victim in the harrowing climax set in the whispering hall). Director Peter Sasdy was one of the luckier Hammer directors allowed a bit of freedom to present his subject matter in a more elaborate, explicit way. While you don't have much in the way of nudity(..just a bit of Anna bathing in a tub), the violence even shocked me. This is the kind of film that might receive a cult following if it got a proper DVD release which would lift it from obscurity. Giving a unique way for crazy Jack to continue his work through his daughter is quite a fascinating premise. Tragic, incredibly powerful ending. Again, Hammer successfully transports us back to this period in London. Great performances from all involved. A real sleeper.
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Kiss of Death.
hitchcockthelegend4 August 2013
Hands of the Ripper is directed by Peter Sasdy and written by L.W. Davidson and Edward Spencer Shew. It stars Eric Porter, Angharad Rees, Jane Merrow, Keith Bell, Derek Godfrey, Dora Bryan and Marjorie Rhodes. Music is by Christopher Gunning and cinematography by Kenneth Talbot.

The infant daughter of Jack the Ripper witnesses the brutal murder of her mother by her father. Now a young woman she is deeply troubled and seems to have inherited her father's murderous instincts. An eminent psychiatrist takes her in to his own home in the belief he can benefit medical science by studying her at close quarters...

A nifty late horror entry from Hammer Film Productions, Hands of the Ripper boasts the usual period delights and a on form cast doing justice to the intriguing twist on Ripper lore. The murders are delightfully gruesome in that colourful Hammer way, the Freudian beats penetrative and spicy and the suspense is well orchestrated by old pro Sasdy. Sasdy also has a keen eye for fluid camera techniques, and with Talbot making good use of shadows and light, it's an all round well constructed production that looks higher on monetary value than it actually was.

Naturally full of improbabilities and cliché contrivance, Hands of the Ripper is still a horror film of considerable substance. From the attention grabbing opening sequence as Jolly Jack returns home from his work, to the breath holding finale set at St Paul's Cathedral, it delivers many treats for fans of Hammer Horror. 7.5/10
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Ripping Yarns? Ho ho ho. Aren't I a one?
The_Secretive_Bus1 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Quite a classy little feature, this one. It's not perfect, and I'll discuss its flaws readily, but it has a lot going for it.

I'll get one thing out of the way immediately - "Hands of the Ripper" is blighted by a dodgy title that makes it sound like a second-rate slasher flick when it's actually a rather good and sometimes moving little film about a doctor, played superbly by Eric Porter (who I'm sure I've seen in a film before, but he's alas not in any other film I currently own), who takes it upon himself to try and find the cause of why a young girl should want to kill other people, seemingly against her own will. I'm also not sure about the hamfisted way that Jack the ripper gets shoehorned into this in what I can only imagine was a way to generate more interest about the film in advertising at the time - the basic premise is that the young daughter of Jack sees him do in her mother, and is so emotionally traumatised that later in life she occasionally goes into a trance and kills people herself (none of this is a spoiler by the way, it's all in the first two minutes). This would have worked far better if it had been the daughter of an anonymous killer, as one immediately finds oneself trying to swallow the idea of Jack the Ripper having a daughter; "Like father, like daughter," perhaps. It's just a bit silly. The said opening scenes would also be far more emotional and affecting if we didn't have the credits playing over them. Sigh.

The first few murders of the film are rather unconvincing as well, which some judicious editing would have compromised for (as those seen later in the film show, less is infinitely more), and Dora Bryan, playing the most unconvincing medium I've ever seen in a film, meets a grizzly fate in the first 10 minutes that reminded me of the unicorn scene from "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" (there's a reference that'll fly over your heads, I'm sure), just with less humour. In fact, the whole film is terribly serious, with little camp at all, and is all the better for it. In fact, when the only things I can criticise about a film are a few seconds of dodgy editing and some namedropping, then all is well. The cast are all fantastic (and spot Lynda Baron making an appearance as a prostitute later on - an image I'm sure none of us wanted), and there's a wonderfully haunting musical score to boot. It's a very lavish and well made film, with some fantastic Victorian sets. And there's a few genuinely surprising twists that do actually seem to arise naturally out of the plot. Even the murderer herself gains viewer sympathy, and that's quite hard to achieve.

It's all rather down-beat admittedly, and certainly won't leave you in the happiest of moods, but it's an extremely good feature that shows what Hammer could do when it was actually trying.

"Hands of the Ripper": rubbish title, great film. Oh yes.
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Good acting and strong violence
preppy-320 October 2009
Anna sees her father (Jack the Ripper) stab her mother to death when she's a little girl. Twenty years later she's been adopted and knows nothing about her past--but she kills people when she flashes back to seeing her mother killed. Dr. John Pritchard (Eric Porter) knows she does this but wants to try to find out why and cure her while the bodies pile up.

Interesting Hammer horror that mixes psychology with extreme violence. I originally caught this on network TV ages ago where all the violence was cut out. There's not a lot of it but what there is is VERY strong and incredibly gruesome. Even the R rated version released here in the US is edited! I finally saw it uncut on a Portuguese DVD. The color is a little faded and the end credits stop abruptly but it's letter-boxed and complete. The story is a little slowly paced but I was never bored and the violence shocked me--and I'm a hardened horror movie fan! The acting was excellent by Porter and Angharad Rees (playing the unfortunate Anna). The psychology is a little bit silly but the movie is strong and well-done. If you can see this uncut I recommend it.
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"Excellent late offering from Hammer."
jamesraeburn200320 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers

A young girl called Anna (Angharad Rees) turns out to be the daughter of the infamous Whitechapel murderer Jack The Ripper and even more sinister she is possessed by his evil spirit! Excellent late offering from Hammer with good direction by Peter Sasdy who made his successful feature-film debut with the company's TASTE THE BLOOD OF Dracula (1970). The lighting of Ken Talbot is exemplary as is the art direction of Roy Stannard. HANDS OF THE RIPPER is one of Hammer's goriest films and the shock sequences are handled with skill and economy and achieve their object - to horrify! Good performances too especially from Rees as the possessed Anna, Eric Porter as Dr Pritchard, the medical man who tries to cure her and Dora Bryan is amusing in a cameo as a phony medium. All these virtues succeed admirably in papering over the indifferent development of the plot.
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From (Movie) Hell
TwittingOnTrender21 July 2019
A lot of Hammer stuff can be excused on the grounds of "so bad it's good" or "at least there was some cleavage". This, although it features an amazing turn from Dolly the Housemaid's cleavage, is dire. Thoroughly unenjoyable - miserable and dull, compared to the gleefully silly later efforts like Lust for a Vampire or Twins (!) of Evil. It's only 81 minutes long, but Lord, does it feel longer. The climactic scene drags, and drags, and features a totally underwhelming pay-off. We 're supposed to believe that the confluence of Ms the Ripper receiving a kiss while looking at a shiny jewel (the combination that sets her off) happens so often that she leaves the set cluttered with bodies...even for a fantasy horror/thriller, even for Hammer, this is too much of a stretch. Avoid as you would a top-hatted gentleman in Whitechapel.
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Innocent by the reason of insanity?
minamurray28 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Classy, elegant and atmospheric Gothic thriller, based on excellent script by L.W.Davidson and Edward Spencer Shew. Jack the Ripper's daughter murders people in Edwardian London. Sets and colours are rich and gorgeous in true, cozy Hammer Gothic style, and psychotic Anna is fascinating and even sympathetic character: so sweet, so innocent ... and oh, so lethal. There is also nice - and definitely unintended - irony: slimy, hypocritical politician tries to violently rape insane Anna and later yells how only gallows can cure her from criminal insanity. At least Anna is mentally ill. What is HIS excuse? Murders are nasty, but they are genuinely horrifying instead of disgusting and sleazy.
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Straight-faced psychobabble
Shinwa2 November 2000
Strained and humorless (especially in light of its rather dubious psychology), but well-paced and comfortably lurid, this genteel body count movie highlights the unusually hypnotic presence of Angharad Rees as a young woman periodically possessed by Jack the Ripper, thus allowing for some nasty gore effects amidst the Edwardian propriety. It's all pretty standard stuff for Hammer, but is handled with a good deal of visual elan, even if the central relationship, between psychoanalyst Porter and Rees, drives the narrative without ever being satisfactorily explained.
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