Blu-ray Review: Jack the Ripper (1959)

February 2, 2019

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Scotland Yard Inspector O’Neill (Eddie Byrne) is hella pissed due in no small part to his department’s stunning failure in clappin’ some irons on ol’ Saucy Jack (Jack the Ripper to you boils n’ ghouls). To help solve the case O’Neill calls for his old chum, New York City Detective Sam Lowry (Lee Patterson, sporting a 1950’s pompadour that must have been all the rage in 1888). Soon the Dublin Dynamo and…Sam…are balls deep in red herrings and sinister suspects, all of whom could potentially be the horrific hooker hacker. While this is going on, our man Sam gets a case of the hornies for Anne Ford (Betty McDowall), the ward of tight-ass A-number one…namely Dr. Tranter (John Le Mesurier), which goes over with the good Doctor like a rather large turd in a perfectly good punch bowl. Anyway, will our heroes save the day and discover who is behind the murder biz, or will Jack slip silently into the Whitechapel fog?

Dripping with heaps of atmosphere, loverly ladies, and grim goings-on, Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman’s Jack the Ripper is an effective Victorian Era pot-boiler with plenty of melodrama and suspense to spare. Written by legendary Hammer scribe Jimmy Sangster  (Horror of Dracula, Curse of Frankenstein) this film could have fit in nicely with the output of that aforementioned studio given it’s period setting (realized entirely on sound stages with some impressive vistas of grimy streets and alleys  filled with citizenry driven to mob mentality by the horror biz at hand), ghoulish goings-on, and comely actresses…all that’s missing is either Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing, and that famous vivid color palette (if you hadn’t guessed, this is a black and white production). Speaking of which…

Along with the British version of the film, the U.S. version is contained on this Blu-ray release as well. While adding a bombastic Jazz influenced score and a new voice over (performed by the insanely talented and prolific actor Paul Frees in an uncredited role) asking the audience to solve the case…the most ridiculous thing added has to be the full color insert scene of blood (though it did exist in a sequence excised from the original cut, though in black and white)…you’ll know it when you see it, and will doubtless whisper a “What the fuckity fuck fuck?” just as your’s cruelly did.

Along with both versions of Jack the Ripper (sourced from the best available prints of both, so don’t go bitchin’ and whining about that one…Severin always does a kick ass job giving us the grizzly goods, and only a complete fart of a fright fan would moan about some “grain”), this release also includes an archival commentary from 2005 featuring Baker, Sangster, and assistant director Peter Manley (moderated by film historian Marcus Hearn) which provides plenty of info on the film’s creation. Along with that we get a series of alternate “continental” takes (think bare boobs n’ blood), an interview with Denis Meikle, author of Jack the Ripper: The Murders and the Movies, which gives an overview of the killer’s early cinematic appearances, and a look at Jack the Ripper‘s production, and a piece on the actual Whitechapel murders that inspired the film. Also included are the film’s trailer and a stills gallery.

If you’re into murder, mayhem, and a sketchy grasp on historical events, Jack the Ripper…which also brings fog enshrouded streets, a solid sense of mystery and suspense, and fine acting…will tickle your putrid pickle like a pro!




Share This Article

You May Also Like…