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Jack's Back (1988)

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A serial killer in Los Angeles celebrates Jack the Ripper's 100th birthday by committing similar murders and only one has a chance of stopping him.

Director:

Rowdy Herrington
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Spader ... John / Rick Wesford
Cynthia Gibb ... Chris Moscari
Jim Haynie ... Sgt. Gabriel
Robert Picardo ... Dr. Carlos Battera
Rod Loomis ... Dr. Sidney Tannerson
Rex Ryon Rex Ryon ... Jack Pendler
Chris Mulkey ... Scott Morofsky
Wendell Wright Wendell Wright ... Capt. Walter Prentis
John Wesley ... Sam Hilliard
Bobby Hosea ... Tom Dellerton
Danitza Kingsley ... Denise Johnson
Anne Betancourt ... Mary
Diane Erickson Diane Erickson ... Andrea Banks
Sis Greenspon Sis Greenspon ... Martha
Graham Timbes Graham Timbes ... Surgeon
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Storyline

A young doctor is suspected when a series of Jack the Ripper copycat killings is committed. However, when the doctor himself is murdered, his identical twin brother claims to have seen visions of the true killer. Written by Alexander Lum <aj_lum@bigpond.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

One hundred years ago, in the city of London, in the East-End slum of Whitechapel, a man shocked the world by murdering, raping and mutilating five women. He was never caught. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 May 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Red Rain See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$492,519
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Rowdy Harrington originally wanted the movie to be titled "Red Rain" and Peter Gabriel's song of the same name was meant to play at the opening credits. Since this was a low budget film, he couldn't get the rights to the song, so he hired Paul Saax to compose the song "Red Harvest" instead. Shortly before the movie release, the studio felt that the title "Red Rain" had no relation to the plot so they decided to change to a more appealing title, "Jack's Back". See more »

Goofs

Identical twins do not have the same fingerprints. See more »

Quotes

Sam Hilliard: This is an emergency. May we come in?
Chris Moscari: I'm not really dressed.
Scott Morofsky: It's okay, we're police officers.
See more »

Connections

References The Twilight Zone (1959) See more »

Soundtracks

My Way
Words and Music by Paul Anka, Jacques Revaux, Claude François and Gilles Thibaut
Published by Publishers Management Agency / Music Publishing Inc.
Rerecorded by Rod Loomis
See more »

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User Reviews

Surprisingly good thriller with a terrific lead in Spader.
5 May 2003 | by Li-1See all my reviews

Rating: *** out of ****

Despite having one of the worst titles I've ever heard, Jack's Back is actually a nifty little thriller, a true hidden gem if I ever saw one. I happened to come across the film at a used video store (like the title, the cover box is pretty awful, too) (makes you wonder if the trailers and TV promos were also just as lame), and being a James Spader fan, decided to give it a look. Nice to see this turned out to be one of the better impulse buys I've made in a while.

The title refers to Jack the Ripper, or more specifically, a copycat who's committing similar murders in Los Angeles on the same days on the hundredth anniversary of when the original killings occurred. Without giving anything away, I'll simply say that James Spader and Cynthia Gibb are the protagonists who are searching for the killer, even though Spader himself might be the one.

Despite a plot that plays somewhat like a routine thriller, the story is still fairly enjoyable for what it is. There are a few plot twists and turns, some unpredictable, some which are fairly obvious. Fans of whodunnits (and let's face it, I think everyone enjoys a good whodunnit every once in a while) will find just enough intriguing detail to make this at least an average viewing.

But what sets this apart from many thrillers, particularly those of the late 80's, is the emphasis on characters. Writer/director Rowdy Herrington probably spends even more time developing the lead protagonists than he does fueling the main plot (I can actually see how this might somewhat disappoint whodunnit fans hoping for a very convoluted plot, or slasher fans expecting more, well, slashing). Consequently, the suspense is ratcheted up a few notches and we find ourselves caring about the outcome.

Most of the credit for this should go to Spader, who delivers a terrifically charismatic and extremely likable performance. He plays a man who's hardly a saint, but realistic in that he's flawed, and simultaneously more than capable of showing a genuine conscience. Cynthia Gibb (who's very cute) works well with Spader, she's charmingly convincing and adorable. The rest of the cast isn't really worth mentioning except for maybe Robert Picardo as a thoughtful police psychologist (who happens to live in a mansion, no less). Everybody else is mostly present to act as suspects or people who are simply in Spader's way.

Herrington's direction is quite good, setting up a creepy atmosphere, nicely accompanied with an equally creepy score. It's Herrington's storytelling that could use more work. While many details are set up well, the finale stumbles due to a rather large leap in logic. To some, the film's conclusion might also seem rather abrupt, without quite enough explanation for all that transpired. If Herrington had tightened up his story, he might have had a great thriller on his hands. As it is, this is merely a good movie that rates well above average. But I shouldn't be complaining. Jack's Back is a pleasant surprise, even moreso for a movie with such an awful title.


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