While Twins of Evil ignited a certain visual style and direction as spearheaded by Hammer Horror film producer Michael Carreras, (who was also the son of the British production company’s founder, James) Hands of the Ripper, which was released as part of a double feature struggles a little under the weight of its premise.
It’s actually a pretty cool idea, presenting Angharad Rees as Anna, the daughter of the notorious Whitechapel murderer Jack The Ripper. As an infant, Anna witnesses her father’s brutal attack on her mother. Years later, we’re introduced to her again aiding a medium trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the paying customers. Unfortunately, it is also discovered that her trauma can be awakened by a flickering light followed by a kiss on her cheek, igniting a menacing steak that lies deep within and turning Anna inot a psychotic killer.
Hammer were fortunate to cast acting veteran Eric Porter in the role of John Pritchard, a doctor and psychiatrist who believes that he can cure her of her ailment, unaware of just how deep her psychological scars go. He also doesn’t anticipate how enraptured he would become with Anna, falling for her charms and in doing so, makes ill-judgement to cover up her misdeeds in the hope that he can steer her back on the path of sanity.
By the time the film’s climax comes around at the famous London landmark St. Paul’s Cathedral, we are destined for tragedy. Pritchard, already mortally wounded, rushes alongside his son Michael to rescue his son’s fiance, Laura (Jane Morrow) from the hands of evil.
It acts as a slow burn much like Director Peter Sasdy’s earlier feature Countess Dracula starring the brilliant Ingrid Pitt. Both films prove hard to connect with due to its pace, but are equally well composed and directed making them strong films as far as production is concerned, but ultimately prove hard to connect with and may turn some people off.
Of all the original features that Hammer produced though, Hands of the Ripper could easily be remade with a different lens today, if it were to immerse itself into the gothic time, place and setting.
- Saul Muerte