Blu-ray Review: JACK THE RIPPER (1959)

JACK THE RIPPER was produced and directed by Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman from a screenply written by Hammer Films’ legendary Jimmy Sangster and stars Eddie ByrneLee Patterson, John Le Mesurier, Betty McDowall and Ewen Solon.

In 1959, legendary showman Joseph E. Levine unleashed this grisly UK thriller on American moviegoers. But when audiences were horrified by the film’s startling violence, graphic nudity and bloody Technicolor climax, it became one of Levine’s most notorious failures. Today – in its notorious UK cut and the American version with a brassy new score – it remains among the most underappreciated and provocative shockers of its time. 

This psychological thriller takes place in the late 1800’s and follows Sam Lowry (Lee Patterson), a New York City detective who teams up with British Inspector O’Neill (Eddie Byrne) to solve a unique murder mystery. There’s a killer on the loose that the press has nicknamed “Jack the Ripper” who’s going around murdering women (mostly prostitutes) on the dark streets of London. The killer appears to be looking for one particular person because he always asks if they’re her. But why? Well, this mysterious figure is on a mission to get revenge for a tragedy that happened to someone close to him.

The men team up with Anne Ford (Betty McDowall), a charity hospital worker who happens to work for Dr. Tranter (John Le Mesurier) but he doesn’t approve of her being attached to this case or her new friend from America. What happens is, their investigation keeps getting them closer to the serial killer who continues to elude his pursuers and prowl the streets looking for this woman. The killer does eventually eliminate his main target but he gets reckless in his pursuit and coverup so in the end he finally gets a brutal dose of karma. Sadly, the people investigating this case were never able to find out who the killer really was.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, some images and list of special features. This Severin release comes in a black keepcase which helps it stand out from the others. The Blu-ray disc also features some matching artwork. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The video has grain and scratches throughout the watch and there is some light hissing in the audio but considering the age and obscurity of this old classic I really didn’t have a major problem with it. The U.S. version got a new 2K scan and is the cleaner of the two and it has a few extra minutes of footage. Severin Films did a good job with what they had to work with.

Bottom line is, Jack the Ripper ended up being another first time watch and I enjoyed watching this classic slasher from yesteryear. In fact, I guess you can call this movie the original slasher. Right? We’ve gotten a number of big screen and small screen incarnations about this infamous serial killer over the years but this is the one that started it all. The only thing that bugs me is that lot of older movies like this sometimes remind me of stage plays because that’s where a lot of the actors came from back in the day. Have you ever noticed the over acting in classic cinema? Anyway, I enjoyed Jack the Ripper because it plays like a suspenseful whodunnit that centers around this frightening figure who was never actually identified. The movie itself is a character driven murder mystery that’s heavy on suspense and light on the blood and gore. Actually, all of the murders are simulated so the viewer never gets to see any carnage. Can you imagine them showing that stuff back in the day? It’s a really good watch even if it is a bit rough at times and it has an ending that gets surprisingly colorful – if you get my drift. Jack the Ripper is now available on Blu-ray.

Distributor: Severin Films

Run Time: US Version (1.25:04) / UK Version (1:21:05) Region Free

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition – US (1.66:1) / UK (1.33:1) Region Free

Blu-ray Audio: English LPCM 2.0

Subtitles: English

Special Features: The extras include some audio commentary, alternate takes, an interview, character featurette, trailer and still gallery.

  • Audio Commentary With Co-Director/Co-Producer/Co-Cinematographer Robert S. Baker, Screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, Assistant Director Peter Manley, Moderated By British Horror Historian Marcus Hearn
  • Alternate Continental Takes (10:56)
  • Interview With Denis Meikle, Author of “Jack The Ripper: The Murders And The Movies” (10:33)
  • Gentleman Jack – The Whitechapel Murders Revisited (13:31)
  • Theatrical Trailer (02:28)
  • Poster & Still Gallery (04:11)
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