To Hell and Back Again

It doesn’t take the acting chops of Johnny Depp and Heather Graham to make for an interesting story of Jack the Ripper, no matter how many times it’s told. One of the best parts of the Ripper tale is, it’s never told exactly the same way twice. This 2001 tale “From Hell” ingeniously combines all we think we know of Jack with a touch of dark romance.

The horrific gentleman of serial killers, Jack the Ripper was apparently a serial killer of whores in England’s Whitechapel in 1888. The Industrial Revolution took the terror of the murders to a whole new level as photography and other forms of scientific forensics made the mutilations more vivid for future generations.

With a series of murders unsolved in spite of the fascination through the years, there is obviously a conspiracy of some type keeping the killer’s true identity a secret. The current fascination with the FreeMasons is incorporated into the film as well as the scandalous offspring of the British royal line, and even scavengers of the street are presented as possibilities, although this film resolves with a certainty not to be found in reality.

The macabre theme of this film is enough to make it Halloween worthy, but the darkness of shadows and murky settings and costumes evokes a spiritual recoiling not to be found in more modern serial killer movies. Although this should be on all horror film favorites lists for mature audiences, squeemish and young viewers should stay clear.

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