Jack the Ripper (1976)
By: David Michael Brown on March 24, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Big Sky Video (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 88 minutes
The Movie
Director: Jess Franco
Starring: Klaus Kinski, Lina Romay
Screenplay: Jess Franco
Music: Walter Baumgartner
Country: Spain
Tagline:Close your eyes and whisper his name...
Everyone's favourite Spanish pervert Jess Franco is back. His back catalogue is a weird and wonderful selection of cheap sleaze and gore that some love but many think is an inept display of the directors prurient interests. His films are often poorly acted, terribly directed and barely watchable but every so often he produces a cult classic.

He has made rubbish zombie video nasties (The Devil Hunter), sexy vampire fun (Vampyros Lesbos), historical bondage movies starring Christopher Lee (Justine) women in prison movies (Barb Wire Dolls), he even made a Ilsa film (Greta the Mad Butcher became Ilsa the Wicked Warden.) His soundtracks are often better than the films themselves, the score to Vampyros Lesbos was used in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown. He often adds hard core footage or extra gore depending on where his films are released; he is a one of a kind, has made hundreds of films and is still going strong.

The pairing of this Euro maverick and the equally "out there" actor Klaus Kinski, of Nosferatu and Fitzcarraldo fame, was always going to be a strange experience. The fact that they chose to tell the story of London's infamous East End slayer makes Jack the Ripper even weirder.

This film should have been a salacious thrill but unfortunately is a bit of a dull bore. Yes Kinski is great, yes there are a few gory moments but its all very pompous and very wordy; not good when you're hindered by a terrible script and atrocious dubbing. They're the worst cockney accents this side of Dick Van Dyke. Franco regular Lina Romay is her usual self, disrobing for a very dodgy scene with Kinski as the film shows the seedier side of the Jack the Ripper legend. In her death scene he chops her to bits but the make up effects are frankly awful leaving the film with a distasteful yet amateurish feel. A shame as the film is one of Franco's better looking efforts. The Prague locations look sensational and the colours and lighting are eye catching. He still zooms the camera far too many times but for the Spanish auteur this is almost a restrained movie.
It's quite astounding how good Jack the Ripper looks. The picture is sharp, the colours of the period costumes are vibrant and the gloomy dark candle lit streets of old London town look ominous. It makes Franco's film look closer to a million dollars than it ever has.
The sound doesn't quite live up to the visuals but is still good job considering the budget that Franco usually worked to.
Extra Features
Things kick off with a documentary on Franco and the making of Jack the Ripper. Big Sky Video's disc is a carbon copy of the original German DVD so the documentary is in German with English subtitles. The film was one of fifteen films that Franco made with Swiss producer Erwin. C. Dietrich. In one hilarious moment the films producer claims that Franco was a forerunner of Lars Von Trier's Dogma 95 manifesto, despite the fact that his poor lighting, blurred camera work and terrible acting was due to his ineptness rather than a predetermined plan to produce modern art. It's a bit dry in places but a healthy amount of clips enhances the proceedings.

We also get a report on the restoration of Jack the Ripper, which is fascinating but often repeats many of Dietrich's quotes from the making of documentary. It does, however, show how much work went into this pristine transfer.

The producer also gives a running commentary and we get a trailer and a large selection of stills and historical documents gathered together by the producer.
The Verdict
Not quite the movie that thrill seekers would expect Kinski and Franco to make on Jack the Ripper. To be frank it's a ponderous piece of Euro sleaze masquerading as an arty period piece that just doesn't work.
Movie Score
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