Horror On TV: The Veil Episode 11 “Jack the Ripper” (dir by David MacDonald)


For our final episode of The Veil, we have a look at one of the most infamous real world monsters of all time, Jack the Ripper.

In this atmospheric episode, a London clairvoyant (Niall MacGinnis) is haunted by visions of the Whitechapel murders.  Unfortunately, his attempts to help the police only leads to them treating him like a suspect!  Each episode of The Veil was usually described as being “based on a true story.”  In this case, it’s actually true.  A medium named Robert Lees — renamed Walter in this episode — actually did go to the police with claims that he had seen the murders and could identify the killer.

This is the only episode of The Veil in which Boris Karloff acts only as host.  That’s because this episode was not originally made for the series.  Instead, it was intended for an unrelated British anthology show.  The producers of the Veil later bought the episode and tacked on an introduction by Boris Karloff.  Of course, because The Veil itself never actually aired on television as a result of the production company running into financial problems, Jack the Ripper never aired in the U.S.  It was, however, later included in an anthology film that was put together using four episodes of The Veil.

Enjoy!  That’s it for The Veil.  Tomorrow, we start a whole new series!

Horror On TV: Thriller 1.28 — Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper (dir by Ray Milland)


Since I reviewed Robert Bloch’s novel, The Night of the Ripper, earlier today, it seems only appropriate that tonight’s excursion into televised horror should be based on another Robert Bloch story about Jack the Ripper!

Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper is a classic episode of the 60s anthology series, Thiller.  This episode aired on April 11th, 1961 and it was directed by the Oscar-winning actor, Ray Milland!

Enjoy!

 

Horror Scenes That I Love: The Jack The Ripper Scene From Pandora’s Box


Since I reviewed Robert Bloch’s Night of the Ripper earlier today, it only seems appropriate that Jack the Ripper should play a role in today’s horror scene that I love.

In the 1929 silent German film, Pandora’s Box, Louise Brooks plays Lulu who, through a series of misfortunes, goes from being the mistress of an upper middle class newspaper publisher to living in squalor in London.  Reduced to working as a prostitute, Lulu picks up her first client on Christmas Eve.  Little does she know that her client is actually the infamous murderer known as Jack the Ripper.  At first, Jack attempts to resist his urges by throwing away his knife but once they reach Lulu’s apartment, he discovers another.

This scene, which served as the film’s finale, was considered to be so controversial in 1929 that it was edited out of some prints, which had the effect of turning a tragic story about a woman forced into prostitution into a story about a woman who, following some bad luck, moves to London and is redeemed by volunteering for the Salvation Army.

Here is the original conclusion of Pandora’s Box:

 

 

 

Book Review: Night of the Ripper by Robert Bloch


As you might guess from the title, Night of the Ripper is set in London in 1888.  A shadowy figure is haunting the foggy alleyways of Whitechapel, savagely murdering prostitutes, terrifying the public, and leaving the police baffled.  In the taunting letters that he writes to the authorities, he says that his name is Jack.

Jack the Ripper, to be exact.

With both high and low society demanding an end to the murders, can the respected and determined Inspector Abberline discover the true identity of Jack the Ripper and bring his reign of terror to an end?  Helping him out will be an American doctor named Mark Robinson.  Robinson is an expert in a developing science called psychology but will that be enough?

*sigh*

This 1984 novel from Robert Bloch is an unfortunate misfire.  I say that as someone who has spent a countless amount of time reading about the murders and all of the identified suspects.  (Back in March, when Jeff and I were in London, we went on one of those Jack the Ripper walking tours.  It was wonderfully creepy!)  A century after his crimes, Jack the Ripper continues to fascinate us because, not only was he the first widely identified serial killer, but it also appears that he got away with it.  The police may have speculated that Jack was a disgraced lawyer who committed suicide after the murder of Mary Kelly but they never actually presented any evidence to back that up.  Over the last 130 years, countless people have been accused of being Jack the Ripper, everyone from an anonymous Russian doctor to Lewis Carroll to the son of Queen Victoria.  Solely based on the fact that she didn’t care much for his paintings, Patricia Cornwell wrote an entire book arguing that the artist Walter Sickert was the murderer.  In all probability, Jack the Ripper was an anonymous nobody but he’s become such a huge figure in the popular imagination that it’s difficult for many to accept that he was probably just a sexually dysfunctional loser who hated women.  Instead, elaborate conspiracy theories are pursued and films like Murder by Decree and From Hell are produced.

Bloch’s novel features plenty of prominent Victorians, though none of them are identified as suspects.  Oscar Wilde, Joseph Merrick, Conan Doyle, and Robert Lees all show up and then quickly disappear from the story.  When Bloch does eventually reveal the identity of Jack the Ripper, he turns out to be a minor character who was first introduced just a few chapters previously.  It’s a bit of a letdown.

Actually, the whole book is a letdown.  It comes across as if it was written in haste and Bloch’s attempt to give the story some gravitas by opening the final few chapters be describing ancient torture methods doesn’t really have the effect that I presume he was going for.  It’s a disappointment because, after all, this is Robert Bloch that we’re talking about.  Bloch not only wrote Psycho but he also wrote Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper, one of the best short stories ever written about Jack.

Read the short story but avoid the novel.  And if you ever get a chance to take a Jack the Ripper walking tour, do it!

Horror Film Review: From Hell (dir by The Hughes Brothers)


Who was Jack the Ripper?

That’s a question that people have been asking for 129 years.  Arguably the world’s first famous serial killer, Jack the Ripper killed at least five prostitutes in the Whitechapel section of London.  Some claim that he killed as many as twenty.  He may have also written several taunting letters to the police.  Again, some say that the letters are authentic and some say that they were hoaxes.  Hell, there’s even some people who say that Jack the Ripper himself is a myth and the five murders attributed to him were actually five unconnected crimes.  It was speculated that Jack the Ripper was a butcher, a surgeon, or maybe a midwife.  Just as suddenly as the murders began, they ended.  The London police claimed that he had committed suicide by jumping into the Thames.  Few people believed them then and even less now.

The reason that there is so much uncertainty is because Jack the Ripper was never caught.  He was never identified.  There were stories of confessions, though many of them came from the mentally infirm or they were heard by someone who was a friend of someone who claimed to be the Butcher of Whitechapel.  At one point, there was even a claim that Jack’s diary had been found.

As a horror fan, a true crime fanatic, and a lover of history, I’ve read quite a few theories about who Jack the Ripper was.  Nearly every prominent (or, at the very least, remembered) Victorian has been accused of having been Jack the Ripper.  Oscar Wilde has been accused of hiding a confession in The Picture of Dorian Gray.  Various members of the Royal Family have been fingered as the culprit.  Even Lewis Carroll could not escape accusation.  The true crime author Patricia Cornwell wrote an entire book where she (wrongly) accused the painter Walter Sickert.  Cornwell’s case could basically be summed up as follows: “Walter Sicket’s paintings were weird.  Walter Sickert must be Jack the Ripper.”  Apparently, she managed to destroy one of Sickert’s paintings while looking for clues.

The truth of the matter is that Jack the Ripper was probably some guy who no one has ever heard of, most probably one of the unknown men who lived and worked in the shadows of Whitechapel.  For all the talk of Jack being a doctor, it can be argued that the surgical precision of his murders has been overstated.  He didn’t get away with murder because he was particularly clever.  Instead, he got away with it because, in 1888, even fingerprinting was considered to be a radical science.

But, honestly, that’s not very intriguing.  For those of us who have researched the case, it’s far more interesting to speculate that Jack the Ripper was either a famous person or that the murders were all the result of a huge conspiracy.

That’s certainly the appeal of From Hell, the 2001 film from The Hughes Brothers.  Making the same basic case as Bob Clark’s Murder By Decree, From Hell argues that the Jack the Ripper murders were the result of a royal conspiracy.  In reality, that theory has been discredited but it certainly is the most cinematic of all the possibilities.

And, speaking of cinematic, it must be said that From Hell is very stylish movie.  Though the title comes from one of Jack the Ripper’s letters, From Hell also could just as easily be used to describe the film’s vision of Whitechapel.  Whitechapel is full of shadows and secrets and the blood flows freely.  If Mary Kelly (Heather Graham) isn’t killed by Jack the Ripper, it’s just as likely she’ll be killed by one of her clients.  Even as the murders are committed, life and business in Whitechapel goes on.  What other choice is there?  It’s either risk being killed or starve.

It falls to Frederick Abberline (Johnny Depp) to solve the murders.  The real-life Abberline was an almost legendary detective who lived for decades after the final Jack the Ripper murder.  The movie’s Abberline is an opium addict who always seems to be on the verge of a breakdown.  When he and Mary Kelly fall in love, you’re not really sure if it’s something to be happy about.  Abberline seems just as likely to go crazy as everyone else.

From Hell is an uneven and somewhat overlong movie but I like it.  Heather Graham and Johnny Depp give somewhat odd performances but the oddness fits right in with the Hughes Brothers’s vision of a world that’s been turned permanently upside down.  It’s a movie that’s full of atmosphere and the story is intriguing even if it’s never exactly convincing.  For obvious reasons, I can’t reveal who plays Jack the Ripper but I will say that he gives a very good performance.  When he says that, “One day, men will look back and say that I gave birth to the 20th century,” you believe him.

Halloween Havoc!: MAN IN THE ATTIC (20th Century Fox 1953)


cracked rear viewer

attic1

The story of notorious 19th Century serial killer Jack the Ripper has been told countless times on the screen. The case has never been officially solved, and there are probably more theories about Jack’s identity than there were victims. Author Marie Belloc Lowndes wrote “The Lodger”, a speculative fiction novel based on the Ripper murders, that was in turn made into a silent film by the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock  in 1927. The film was remade in 1932 with the same star, Ivor Novello, then again in what’s probably the most famous version, 1944’s THE LODGER , starring Laird Cregar, Merle Oberon, and George Sanders. Almost a decade later, the tale was again remade, this time with Jack Palance as the mysterious MAN IN THE ATTIC.

attic2

Fog shrouded London’s Whitechapel District is being terrorized by a fiend known in the press as Jack the Ripper. Scotland Yard is baffled, police patrols have been…

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Lisa’s Editorial Corner: On Gunnar Hansen, Jack the Ripper, Stephen King, and the SBS


What’s All This Then?

Hi there!  Well, as of my birthday yesterday, I am now officially an adult.  What does that mean for this site?  Well, for the most part, it means that I’m going to be even more aggressive about giving my opinion.  After all, I’m an adult now.  Whatever I say matters, no matter how weird or random it may be!  In fact, I’m such an adult that I’m not even going to worry about proofreading these posts anymore.  Adults don’t have to worry abut makin typos.

So, what is Lisa’s editorial corner?  Well, it’s a new weekly feature where I talk about whatever caught my eye during the previous week.  Basically, it’s a way for me to embrace my inner know-it-all.  Fear not, I’m going to keep it entertainment-related.  You don’t have to worry about me using this feature to try to convince you to vote for Gary Johnson in 2016.  (At least not yet…)

For instance, I might use this feature to talk about Gunnar Hansen…

On Gunnar Hansen and Andrew Bryniarski

On November 7th, Gunnar Hansen passed away from pancreatic cancer.  He was 68 years old.  When I first heard the news, I was out with my friends in the SBS (and I’ll explain what that stands for at a more appropriate time) and we were celebrating my upcoming birthday.  I spent the day after that with my family and then it was Monday and it actually was my birthday and … well, long story short: I’ve only now gotten a chance to write about his passing on this site.  And I feel really guilty about that because Gunnar Hansen was an iconic figure in film history.

Who was Gunnar Hansen?  Well, you probably already know.  He was Leatherface in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Beyond that, he was also a teacher, a writer, an acclaimed poet, and reportedly one of the nicest guys that you could ever hope to meet.  I never met Gunnar but every story that I’ve ever heard about him — whether it was from someone who met him at a convention or someone who knew him outside of the world of horror fandom — has been a positive one.  As well, I’ve read many interviews with Hansen about the making of Texas Chainsaw and he always came across as being a very intelligent and well-spoken individual.

And it’s often overlooked just how good a performance that Hansen gives in Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Hansen may have been cast because of his large frame and he may have had to perform underneath a mask but he still turned Leatherface into a genuine character.  It’s often overlooked that, out of the entire cannibal family, Leatherface is the only one who has any real responsibilities.  He’s just trying to prepare everyone’s dinner and he keeps getting interrupted!  No wonder he eventually ends up sitting down and slumping in frustration.

Now, upon until a few hours ago, I had absolutely no idea who Andrew Bryniarski was.  Do you know who he is?  Here’s a picture of him, with Gunnar Hansen:

Andrew and Gunnar

Gunnar is on the right.

Why are Andrew and Gunnar posing together?  Because Andrew played Leatherface in 2003 remake of Texas Chainsaw and in 2006’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.

And here is what Andrew said on Facebook after several people tagged him in posts about Gunnar’s death:

Andrew's Response

Seriously, Mr. Bryniarski?  Now, before you think that he “misspoke” or any of that, he went on to double down on his comments.  When someone pointed out that, if not for Gunnar, Bryniarski would have never played Leatherface, Bryniarski wrote back, “I played the role twice without him.”  Bryniraski then told another FB user to “suck Gunnar’s dead nutz.”

Seriously — what the Hell!?

For what it’s worth, Bryniarski has an official response to everyone who is upset with him.  You can check it out here.  As far as I can tell, it appears that he feels that, while promoting Texas Chainsaw 3D, Gunnar criticized the way that he played Leatherface.

There’s probably more to it than that but … well, it really doesn’t matter.  If you’re going to speak ill of the dead, you better have a hell of a better reason that professional jealousy. End of story.  Bryniarski’s comments and the outrage that greeted them only serve to remind us that Gunnar Hansen was a class act.

Gunnar Hansen, R.I.P.

On Jack The Ripper

Over 4 years ago, when I reviewed Murder By Decree, I wrote about my fascination with the unsolved case of Jack the Ripper.  Well, after all this time, I’m still fascinated.  So, needless to say, when I read that an Australian professor named Richard Patterson was convinced that he had figured out the identity of Jack the Ripper, I was intrigued.

Then I found out that Patterson thought that poet Francis Thompson was the murderer and I promptly yawned.

Poor Francis Thompson.

Poor Francis Thompson.

Seriously, most evidence (as opposed to the speculation of people who have seen From Hell) indicates that Saucy Jack was probably some psycho who lived on the margins of society.  He got away with his murders because he committed them in 1888, a time when just taking fingerprints was considered to be advanced forensic science.  He was never caught, he died in obscurity, and no one knows his name.

However, that’s no fun!  Why spend so much time researching Jack the Ripper if the final solution is just going to be some creep that nobody’s ever heard of!?  That’s why it seems the almost every Victorian of any sort of renown has, at some point, been accused of being the Ripper.  Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll, Francis Thompson, and the painter Walter Sickert — all of them have been accused and, amazingly, all of them have had their creative work cited as evidence of their guilt.

You have to wonder if, 100 years from now, amateur criminologists will insist that Stephen King was responsible for every unsolved murder in New England…

Speaking of Walter Sickert…

Here’s one of the infamous painting that’s always cited by people who are convinced that he was Jack The Ripper:

372sickert

By the way, this is my new Facebook cover photo:

That’s Natalie Wood rehearsing for West Side Story!

NW

Why not listen to a little music before you leave?

Hey — did you know that I have a daily music blog?  Check it out: Lisa Marie’s Song of the Day!  This is the song that I shared on my birthday because a lot of people have told me that it might as well be about me:

You know what you should do now?

Since it’s the day after my birthday and all, why not go read the first review that I ever wrote for this site?  Check out my thoughts on a strange little film called Welcome Home, Brother Charles.

Brother Charles

Wait a minute!  What does SBS stand for?

Sexy Bitch Squad, of course!  (SBS FOREVER!)

Have a great week!