Saturday, July 27, 2013


We Yanks have been in a breathless tizzy over British new arrivals lately, and I’m no exception: Out on Blu-Ray this month is a Hammer horror picture I had never seen before!

It’s Hands of the Ripper, from 1971, and it concerns the daughter of Saucy Jacky himself. In the grim prologue, the poor kid witnesses Jack murder his wife from her crib, after which he comes over and gives her a kiss on the cheek. Years later, as a guileless young thing (Angharad Rees), now working as an aide to a fake medium (Dora Bryan), she’s given to murderous outbursts herself whenever she is similarly smooched.

She’s taken in by a rationalist Doctor (Eric Porter) who wants to try out the techniques that this Viennese fellow Freud has been talking about on her. But the Doc’s something of a head-case himself; he obviously has a Freudian thing for his young charity case, and he starts covering up, Norman Bates style, for her monkeyshines.

Directed by Peter Sasdy (Taste the Blood of Dracula), Hands is like most of the Hammers—silly, and unsavory, but somehow also irresistible, especially if you grew up on the studio’s product. As the story progresses, the circumstances leading to the right psychological trigger for another murder become more and more laughably contrived, but the movie culminates in a strangely subdued and tragic climax at the Whispering Gallery in St. Paul’s.

Porter tries hard to give a serious performance, and he’s impressive right up until he catches a sword in the side, toward the end. After that, the best actor in the Empire—Olivier, Richardson, Gielgud, or whoever you pick—couldn’t have kept his dignity.


  1. Obviously should be paired with that new film Stoker!

  2. Haven't seen it yet, but I love the title!