Before we start I probably should mention that Jack the St. Ripper has nothing to do with the so-called “Jack the Stripper” killings that occurred in London during the early 1960’s. That unsolved case with its ties to organized crime, professional sports, politics, prostitution and porn would make a great film. This one though is a contemporary story about a class of potential strippers being targeted by a masked killer. I should also probably mention that it’s a class of male strippers.
With his beard, ink and bad boy looks Jack (Alexio Cohen) certainly looks like an ideal candidate for a stripper’s job. Until he turns around in the shower and its revealed he’s a bit lacking in one vital department. The other guys in the class find it amusing, Jack doesn’t see the humor in it.
Despite this the class’ instructor Fred (Fabrizio Occhipinti, Scarecrowd) gets him an audition at a club owned by Mark (Mark Thomas-Ashworth, Deep Web XXX, The Games Maker). That does not end well, much to the amusement of several onlookers. But when a black gloved killer starts stalking the members of the class and those around them, the laughing quickly stops.
Directed by George Nevada (Scarecrowd) from a script by Domiziano Cristopharo (Tales to Tell in the Dark, Nightmare Symphony) Jack the St. Ripper is a sleazier, sex switched take on films like Slashdance and Fulci’s Murder-Rock: Dancing Death with a few nods to DePalma’s Carrie such as the humiliation in the shower and an unstable, religion obsessed mother (Chiara Pavoni, Xpiation, Ill: Final Contagium) mixed in.
Obviously if male nudity and LGBTQ themes bother you you’ll want to give Jack the St. Ripper a wide berth. If, on the other hand, you prefer your eye candy to be of the male variety, you’ll have plenty to look at here. What I did find offensive about the movie was the digitally simulated tape damage added to the print. Can we please just stop with the fake grindhouse and VHS effects, especially when it’s as over used as it is here.
Despite the involvement of Domiziano Cristopharo, Jack the St. Ripper isn’t a particularly gory film, although there are several murders. They’re not bloodless but they are disappointingly far from extreme. In one scene you can tell the killer is barely tapping their victim with the hammer despite the prosthetics applied to the actor’s face. The result is comical rather than shocking.
The plot however is certainly contorted enough to satisfy giallo fans and has a final few minutes that certainly caught me off guard. There are also moments in the last act that put me in mind of Argento’s Suspiria and a shot that’s an obvious homage to Cronenberg’s Rabid. Neither of them are giallos of course, but they are classic films many of us associate with the VHS era that George Nevada is trying to recreate with Jack the St. Ripper.
While not quite what I was hoping for Jack the St. Ripper kept me entertained, and those whose tastes run to male bodies on display will undoubtedly be more entertained than I was. TetroVideo is releasing Jack the St. Ripper in a limited, slipcovered DVD edition. You can pre-order it here.