Jack the Ripper (1976)

I’ve made it through plenty of Jack the Ripper movies by now and I can point out all of their cliches: a foggy dark night, a man in a cape and a hat, ladies of ill repute singing and screaming “Want some love, guv’nor” and a flash of the blade. Then Jess Franco shows up and makes a movie that has absolutely nothing to do with reality but hey — Klaus Kinski!

Unfortunately, I haven’t had much luck enjoying Franco’s films, other than Vampyros Lesbos. None of his work really speaks to me. There are others that love his work and that’s just fine for you all.

What nice things can I say? The color is particularly nice here, that rich 1970’s European kind of color that movies just don’t have anymore. Klaus Kinski is as creepy as ever as Jack the Ripper. And hey — it’s the first Ripper movie I’ve watched all week where he cut off a woman’s breast in full view, much less Franco’s muse, Lina Romay.

That said, this is the most professional looking of Franco’s films that I’ve seen. The scene of the fishermen finding the severed hand has a poetic grace to them that is usually lacking from his work. But if you’re looking for a historic Jack the Ripper film, know that this ends up with him arrested and the reason for his killing spree being that he’s murdering women who look like his mother, who was a prostitute.

While I want to love Franco’s films and revel in their excesses, they just seem silly when they should be boundary-shattering exercises. I’ll keep looking for one that I like, because I’m willing to give chance after chance to find the bloody needle in the haystack.

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