JESS FRANCO MONTH: Jack the Ripper (1976)

EDITOR’S NOTE: When this was written back on March 2, 2019, I had not yet embraced the evil world of Jess Franco. That has seemingly changed. I mean, we’re doing an entire month of his movies.

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!

At the time I watched this, I hadn’t liked any of Francos’s movies other than Vampyros Lesbos. But I still found some nice things to 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.

This was, at the time, 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.

The important thing about loving movies is giving more than one chance. While I don’t love everything Franco made, I’ve learned which products are great and which ones have, well, acquired taste.

*I’d say Venus in Furs is much better, if asked.

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