Blu-ray Review: ‘Hands of the Ripper’ (1971)


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ripper

I didn’t know much of anything about Hammer’s Hands of the Ripper when sitting down to watch it. I knew it was Hammer’s stab at a Jack the Ripper story, but that was it, and honestly? Going in blind is probably part of the reason I got so absorbed in the film. I didn’t realize it wasn’t really a Jack the Ripper movie at all, but an unusual blend of Hammer period horror and slice-and-dice slasher with the historical Ripper only showing up briefly in a pre-credits sequence.

From there, the film follows a little girl who witnessed the murder of her mother at the hands of the Ripper, now grown (Angharad Rees), and under the care of a charlatan fortune teller. She seems sweet enough, but goes catatonic with the sight of a specific visual cue and is compelled to kill in gruesome Ripper fashion. The girl can’t help it. Eric Porter plays a psychiatrist who takes the troubled woman in, fascinated by her urges and whether or not the girl is truly evil or just broken.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Twins of Evil’ (1971)


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I can imagine in the context of the time, with Hammer Films entering its final creaky decade and with the stunt casting of twin Playboy Playmates, that Twins of Evil would’ve been received as one of Hammer’s lesser efforts. No matter; time and distance have been kind to Twins of Evil. The Collinson Twins carry none of the baggage of their time, having faded from the public eye, and Hammer’s old-fashioned gothic approach feels appropriately classic now, not as dusty as it did in the wake of eye-opening contemporaries like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist.

Synapse has brought the film to Blu-ray (in a Blu/DVD combo pack), the first time the movie has been available since the days of VHS (Synapse also did the same for Hammer’s Vampire Circus, which is a great disc, even if the feature isn’t as strong as Twins of Evil). For Hammer fans, Twins of Evil is a must-own. The HD transfer is vivid with sharp contrast and lively, organic film grain. It’s not that Twins of Evil has never looked better — it’s that no Hammer film I’ve seen has ever looked better. Synapse ups the game in the special features department by including a feature length documentary (also in anamorphic HD) that specializes on Hammer’s three-film approach to J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla story.

Shadow Cast: Vision 2 – Who Should Have Played Count Dracula in the 1950s?


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Sergio Diaz

 

There’s a hole deep in the darkest parts of South L.A. where dreams never met and talent never realized go to die. Black deaths. It’s like something out of Lovecraft. Remember the dumpster in Mulholland Drive? Yeah. Of course, no one dares look into this hole. Not for too long. That would be tatamount to diving into the bowels of Hell itself. And who’d do that, I mean really? By reaching into this dark realm, we can bring to light these visions of a past not created and explore what could have been had the stars aligned differently. Let’s call it a What If or a Who Should Have or a…Shadow Cast. That’s what the demons call it.

From Max Schreck to Gary Oldman to Klaus Kinski to Adam Sandler, hundreds of actors have put on the cowl, fixed in the fangs, and offered their best interpretation of Bram Stoker’s famed character, Count Dracula. The most famous of these is obviously Bela Lugosi in the 1931 Universal classic, probably the most iconic image of Dracula we’ve come to know. Odd then to think that he only played the character twice, and one of those times was spooking himself in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.




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