The film opens in Victorian London, with a man running away from the police. He manages to escape them and returns to his apparent home, as there, his partner/wife is there to greet him with his daughter sat across the room. She tells him that Jack the Ripper has killed again, the man then pulls out a knife and stabs the woman to death, all the time his daughter is there baring witness to her own Mother's murder. Next we skip fifteen years, to a séance taking place. Once it finishes the guests leave except one; Mr Dysart, who has paid to sleep with Anna, a young orphan girl whom the medium took in and has brought up. Mr Dysart gives her a gift, a jewel of some sort, at the sight of the glistening reflection from it Anna sees flashbacks of her Mother's murder and the glistening reflection of light off the knife that killed her. This sends her into a trance state in which Mr Dysart gets angry and lashes out at her, the medium enters the room and intervenes. Whilst the medium and the man argue, Anna grabs the coal fire poker. Then we see one of the other guests; Dr Pritchard a Psychiatrist, who is outside at the time. He hears screams coming from the house and rushes back in to find Mr Dysart traumatised, Anna in a trance and the medium pinned to the door with the poker. After this there is no substantial evidence for anyone to be convicted of the grisly murder as Anna was in a trance state and therefore doesn't remember a thing, and Mr Dysart is the only one who suspicion falls upon, but Dr Pritchard covers for him and claims he saw him leave before the murder took place. After this, Dr Pritchard decides to take Anna into his care to analyse her and study her behaviour. He later discovers that light glistening off shiny objects reminds her of the shiny knife used to kill her mother and sends her into a trance state where she is almost possessed by her father; Jack the Ripper and goes about committing grisly murders.
Hands of the Ripper is a 1971 Hammer Production directed by Peter Sasdy. It stars Eric Porter as Dr Pritchard, Angharad Rees as Anna and Derek Godfrey as Mr Dysart.
My initial reaction before I knew anything about this film, before I knew the plot or even who was in it, all I knew was the title and my initial thought was “oh another Jack the Ripper film.” Now there are some rather good Jack the Ripper films out there, but I thought well how different could another Jack the Ripper tale possibly be, its a story about a man no one knows anything about. But this film really surprised me, the only part that features Jack the Ripper is the pre-credits sequence which we then see glimpses of when we see Anna's flashbacks, there after the story is all about his daughter Anna and the murders she is committing because of him. I rather enjoyed Hands of the Ripper, it had the appropriate level of violence for a Jack the Ripper tale and for that of which Hammer audiences expect of a Hammer Horror. It kept my interest right up until it's very end. It delivered, what I felt, was everything you expect from a Hammer Production, entertainment, intrigue, enjoyment and (for the time; 1971) shocking violence. This is possibly one of the best Hammer Horrors I have seen, and I would recommend it to anyone who is thinking of trying a Hammer Horror or to anyone who has already been introduced to the film series and was thinking of trying this one.
Hands of the Ripper 4/5