Jess Franco has tackled many of the classic subgenres and stories especially during the mid-70’s while he always put his own unique sexually explicit, tongue dropping sense of seduction on each movie he makes, he seems to rely on classic tales and great stories of historical fiction with a hint of the fantastic. Never is this truer than in Jack the Ripper from 1976 featuring Klaus Kinski. Franco invents true evil in the form of a well meaning bad guy with a very dark side in his interpretation of this classic White Chapel bound tale. While nobody knows how Jack was for sure that only helps Franco to create his own dark world. It’s got prostitutes in various stages of murder, dismember and clothing as well as a few stragglers along the way who fall victims to homicides of necessity. Ascot Elite offers us the chance to enjoy Jack the Ripper as envisioned by Franco.
Synopsis from Ascot Elite:
The streets of London are filled with shrieks of terror in this atmospheric shocker from cult director Jess Franco (Vampyros Lesbos). Klaus Kinski (Nosferatu) stars as a respectable Victorian doctor whose nocturnal activities include the stalking and butchering of prostitutes, with Scotland Yard hot on his trail. Josephine Chaplin (The Canterbury Tales) co-stars as the innocent woman placed as bait in the Ripper’s path, with Lina Romay as one of the hapless victims.
Of the recent Ascot Elite movies I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy including Barbed Wire Dolls and Blue Rita, Jack the Ripper actually comes off rather tame. Sure it’s filled with exquisite acts of deplorable violence featuring the reddest or red blood, and long drawn out shots of murdered victims, blood still dripping from their long, ratted hair, but Jack the Ripper is a more straight forward watch. From the get go you will know who plays the killer (you guys DO know who Klaus Kinski is, correct?). You will watch as the puzzle pieces seem to fit as the police attempt to corner the killer only to have him slip through their fingers.
With a tale like Jack the Ripper, much like Frankenstein or Dracula or other classic villain of horror fiction, it’s difficult to get a fresh take without sacrificing the continuity of the canon of the character. In this instance, following Jack around, at least we have the benefit of historical ignorance and blindness to the identity of the killer which allows for reinvention and Franco’s own ingenuity. Of course, the movie seems to follow slasher movie protocol in its treatment of women and murder, but it provides alluring fantastical cityscapes, set in period. Perhaps the greatest and most wonderful of diversions from the original conception of Jack the Ripper is Klaus Kinski’s character’s name. Dennis Orloff… always an Orloff around when Franco is behind the camera. Lina Romay is also in this one; Franco’s favorite.
Jack the Ripper includes a trailer, interviews, audio commentary track, photo gallery and a restoration feature. AR: 1.78:1 1080p with English audio track DTS HD 5.1. This is a German release so the cover details and notes aren’t in English. The cover itself features a beautiful erotic portrayal of one of Orloff’s victims with Kinski moonlighting over her, crazed and bleeding form the eye. It’s my favorite cover of the Ascot Elite releases I’ve had the privilege to review so far even not including some stunning women au natural.
Fans of classic horror and early 70’s Hammer horror will most certainly appreciate this style of filming as well as the story line. It’s includes enough skin and slash to make you feel like you got your money’s worth and a slightly original twist on a beloved, infamous character. An excellent release for Franco fans.