The Ripper (1985) **
D: Christopher Lewis
C: Tom Schreier, Mona Van Pernis, Wade Tower, Tom Savini, Andrea Adams
Plot Synopsis: An old antique ring turns a college professor into a homicidal maniac when he puts it on. The ring originally belonged to Jack the Ripper and the Ripper's spirit possesses whoever wears it.
REVIEW: The Ripper has the distinction of not only being one of the first direct to video films ever made, but also the distinction of being one of the first feature length movies ever shot on video versus film. At the time of its release, it was quite successful, but as technology and the process involved in making a direct to video film (on the cheap) improved, the film was left in the dust due to it's painfully dated look.
With that said, The Ripper is more then just an early entry in the direct to video market. The story being told is actually fairly interesting. In it, a college professor finds himself possessed by a ring that originally belonged to Jack The Ripper. During these bouts of possession, a series of murders unfold that mirror those of The Ripper. As it turns out, the ring, the murders, the possession are all a means to an end so that The Ripper can achieve eternal life. What the film gets right is that it honors the original Jack the Ripper story while also trying to bring it into modern times. And while it isn't outright scary, there are suspenseful moments.
However, what it gets wrong is that the pacing is off. It runs a good ten to fifteen minutes longer then it should. While the characters are developed and thought out, they aren't terribly interesting. Over the years, special effects master Tom Savini has stated that he's embarrassed by his participation in this production, but that's an unfair statement. Sure, the film could have been shot better and the technical execution needed more finesse, but the material and foundation for what could have been a good film is there. [Not Rated] 102 minutes.
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