FROM HELL

Released: 2001
Genre: crime, thriller
Starring: Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Jason Flemyng, Robbie Coltrane, Lesley Sharp
Directed by The Hughes Brothers
Written by Terry Hayes, Rafael Yglesias based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell
Rated: R for strong violence/gore/sexuality/language/drug use
Running time: 115 minutes

Most mystery and crime thriller fans are well aware of the Jack the Ripper tale. An unknown/unseen madman slices his way through several prostitutes in the Whitechapel district of London and is never apprehended. He may be the first serial killer of our time. He may have had an accomplice. He may have been part of a conspiracy. No one knows for certain what or who he really was. Only theories abound. There are numerous theories, some more believable than others are. That's probably why this gruesome tale continues to haunt and attract the attention of crime buffs throughout the years.

In this rendition, nothing new is brought to the screen. The dark visual effects of the photography are atmospheric and set a proper mood, but the casting is uninspired. The delivery is uninspired. And the pacing is very slow. It's not the worst version of the Ripper tale, by far. It's just not above average. Which is disappointing. Chopping off at least twenty minutes might have helped, but the wouldn't have pushed the film out of the "it's okay..." category.

Having lovely costuming and sets isn't enough to bring the terror of this story alive. Graphically displaying the mutilated corpses of the victims doesn't add to the suspense or sense of terror either. And focusing on the victims before they became victims isn't new either. There are so many different versions of Jack the Ripper available on television and videotape, some good, some downright silly, that I wonder why the Hughes brothers brought us such a mediocre rendition?

I know that "From Hell" and other recent versions of the tale purport to be based on the real evidence and re-interpretations of the evidence, rather than fanciful gossip and conjecture...but that doesn't mean they've told an interesting story.

For my money, I still prefer the 1988 TV version titled "Jack the Ripper" starring Michael Cain as Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline, Armand Assante as Richard Mansfield, and Jane Seymour as Emma Prentiss. Unfortunately, I don't think this version is available on videotape. It does play fairly frequently, however, on television.

My other favorite Jack the Ripper tale is Murder by Decree, a 1979 version where Sherlock Holmes investigates the Ripper murders and the conspiracy to protect the killer. Murder by Decree starred Christopher Plummer as Sherlock Holmes, James Mason as Dr. John Watson, and Susan Clark as Mary Kelly.

Copyright © 2001 Over My Dead Body! All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Over My Dead Body! is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!

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Copyright 2002 Over My Dead Body! All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Over My Dead Body! is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!