07 July 2015

FROM HELL

FROM HELL

Working Title:
Jack

USA, 2001
Directors: The Hughes Brothers

8/10









Although I've always been interested in famous serial killers, especially in my younger years, I have hardly seen any movies about Jack the Ripper. Reasons: my then true-crime-obsessed mother had various books about the infamous Whitechapel-killer which I've all read with great passion + during my Morrissey-phase, I checked out lots of information about Jack, thanks to Mozza's fantastic b-side tune "Jack The Ripper" (from the "Certain People I Know" single),
which, oddly, is much better known in its live version from the "Beethoven Was Deaf" live-album.

In a nutshell: whenever I had the chance to see a Ripper-film, I passed because I thought I already knew enough about this case which somehow gave me hardly any interest in checking out any fictionalizations - until a few weeks ago when my girlfriend persuaded me to finally check out "From Hell", the 2001 adaptation of Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell's graphic novel of the same name, following a troubled, drug-using London-based police detective who investigates a series of brutal prostitute-killings in the district of Whitechapel.


"From Hell" is an unexpectedly fun ride through the dark, filthy, dirty slums of London, combining real facts of the Jack the Ripper case with fictitious events and characters, resulting in a wonderful whodunit-thriller, that delivers on all levels, be it tense horror, intriguing romance or light entertainment. The movie obviously isn't for everyone, especially not for fans of the original graphic novel (it differs a lot from the source material), or 'Ripperologists'. This is more something for fans of contemporary gothic horror, like "The Raven", "Sleepy Hollow" or "Stonehearst Asylum". The Hughes Brothers, who kickstarted their career with non-horror films like "Menace II Society" or "Dead Presidents", wonderfully surprise with a visually brilliant and fabulously paced film full of gore, chills, drama and emotion, based on a very solid script by Terry Hayes ("Mad Max 2+3") and Rafael Yglesias ("Death and the Maiden"), a film that is so different from their previous efforts, it's hard to accept the fact that it's really them who made the movie - which says
a lot about their talent.


Although the majority of "From Hell" was filmed in the Czech Republic, it thoroughly looks and feels as British as possible and provides the viewer with a excellently morbid atmosphere that makes you think the Hughes Brothers time-travelled back to 1888 and shot the movie on location; kudos to everyone who was repsonsible for making the settings and costumes look so damn gorgeous. The stylish cinematography and top-notch camera work by Peter Deming ("Evil Dead II", "Mulholland Drive"), as well as the stunning score by Trevor Jones ("Angel Heart", "Arachnophobia") which is part violin-driven, part psychedelic, add to the overall beauty of the movie.

Johnny Depp is as great as always (um, as great as he was before he 'decided' to spend the rest of his career playing annoyingly silly dorks...). His Cockney accent might be not exactly perfect, but his performance is simply spot-on. Yet, the great Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus in "Harry Potter") and the even greater Ian Holm (Bilbo in "Lord of the Rings") both deliver the movie's best performances. Coltrane is terrifically amusing as dry-humored police officer who loves to quote Shakespeare ("Once more unto the breach, dear friends." / "Good night, sweet prince." ...), while Holm gives a powerful, flawless performance as retired surgeon [SPOILER] who seems to be a nice guy, although he's actually a psychopathic dirtbag.


Overall, a fabulous movie that delivers on all levels. I guess it's time for me to check out some more Ripper-flicks...

6 comments:

  1. this film is a masterpiece! I love how big the twist was and it all built up to that reveal.

    Plus, gory killings! Yum~

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    Replies
    1. I had a feeling that you would like it :)

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  2. Oh, I loved this, it's time for a re-watch I think.

    If you want to check out more, here are two of my favourites...

    'The Lodger' (1927) (Hitchcock) which has been remade a few times since.

    'Pandora's Box' (1929) which stars the gorgeous Louise Brooks.

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    Replies
    1. Big thanks for the recommendations, Yvonne! *thumbs up*

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  3. A very good movie that got kind of overlooked when it was released. But it sets its world up and tells a good story within it. I would also recommend a TV movie miniseries with Michael Caine. It's called Jack the Ripper, in a surprising bit of title madness.

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    Replies
    1. Overlooked indeed, but over the years, it founds its audience, thank goodness. Thanks for the recommendation. Yeah, what an insane title ;))))

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