February 15, 2011

Quick Review: From Hell (2001)

We can't really have a month spotlighting Serial Killers without at least one movie tackling the most infamous of them all; Jack the Ripper.

Directed by filmmakers extraordinaire The Hughes Brothers, and starring Johnny Depp, Heather Graham and Ian Holm, From Hell is one hell of a great movie.

It's 1888 in London's Whitechapel District, and ole' Jack is out and about killing hookers, because that's his thing. He kills them ruddy 'ores all messy like, and mutilates them post mortem, which makes it all the more creepy. Really, he's doing god's work, or must think he is at any rate. After all, there's a certain amount of ego that goes along with being a prolific Serial Killer.

Saucy Jack.
All is going well with Jack's urban cleansing project when along comes psychic police inspector Johnny Depp, who sees a deeper pattern in the murders that screams high-level conspiracy. To complicate things further, he falls in love with a smoking hot bangtail named Mary Kelly (played by a smoking hot bangtail named Heather Graham), which makes things all the more sweet for we, the audience. Really, the movie could have been 90 minutes of her running around naked and talking in a cockney accent, and it would have been perfect.

Good lord...
The interesting thing about From Hell, is the way it twists the Ripper's legend a bit; his eyes go black when he kills, he's got a definite connection to the Freemasons (who were mysterious and creepy in their own right), and he utters one of the best fictional line I've ever heard with "One day, men will look back and say that I gave birth to the 20th Century." God that's a great line. It's so great, I wish it had been a real quote of Jack the Ripper, but his quotes and letters tended to be misspelled and a bit low brow.

Depp is deep.
The Hughes Brothers are great directors. From Menace II Society to the gone-way-too-soon TV show Touching Evil, they always manage to make their projects compelling and dark, and visually pleasing. Johnny Depp... well, he's just Johnny Depp. He could read the phone book for 90 minutes and make it interesting. Heather Graham is not only a good actress, but she's hot as sin and has one of the top 5 racks in Hollywood history. She's Rollergirl for the love of Pete, so how can we not love her to pieces? Ian Holm, Bilbo Baggins himself, if quite the accomplished actor as well, and he keeps pace with Depp throughout this one, and makes a sinister villain indeed. If you like serial killer flicks, Heather Graham's boobs, Great Britain at the turn of the 20th century, or just have an unnatural curiosity/obsession about Saucy Jack himself, then you will dig this movie. It's stylish, creepy enough, and has some great actors giving great performances.

Always knew he was a stoner.
All in all, this is a fun and engaging (if not a completely historically accurate) telling of the Ripper's tale, and it deserves its place in the serial killer pantheon of celluloid greats.



Heather Graham is an all-time volcanic eruption of sexiness. It's a shame that she doesn't star in more Horror flicks... A true Bangtail indeed.

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