From Hell

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By Mark Ramsey | 2001/10/21

It’s London, 1888, and in the foul Whitechapel district there’s just one prostitute with a perfect complexion, pristine teeth, and hair sprouting only from places the good Lord intended, and that’s Heather Graham.

When they’re not too busy selling Mr. Scrooge’s bed curtains, Heather’s prostitution workgroup gathers at the local pub. In all of London, you see, it’s only Heather and her working girl friends that Jack the Ripper is out to cut.

Naturally, Inspector Johnny Depp zeroes in on Heather because her push-up bra is tuned to vibrate his name whenever he’s near. You might think Johnny would steer clear of a trouble-magnet, but this is the guy who dated Kate Moss, after all!

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Jack the Ripper lurks and hovers and creeps like a Victorian Count Jackula. Every few minutes, somebody bursts from the shadows and the dissonant music blares, meaning either Jack’s gonna kill the girl or Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic just galloped by and a bunch of instruments tumbled off the carriage. One or the other.

Johnny has visions whenever he smokes opium or drinks absinthe dribbled with laudanum. In his head he’s seeing the murders as they occur – or maybe he’s watching a Mudvayne video. Who can tell?

Who is Jack the Ripper, anyway? Unlike the real life one, this one leaves behind every clue but a trail of bread crumbs to his doorstep. Connect the dots between the murder locations and you have – voila! – a freemason insignia! Spot the arrangement of trinkets at the murder site and – voila! – freemason again! Note the grapes coincidentally gripped in the hands of every victim and – voila! – “the official produce item of freemasons!” Could the killer be…a freemason? Search the area for a lodge and whimsical headgear!

“If I were you,” advises a respected doctor, “I’d look for someone with a thorough knowledge of human anatomy – someone like Charlie Sheen.”

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“Can you identify this knife?” Johnny asks the doctor, as he draws an image that resembles less a tool to cut prostitutes and more one to flip hamburgers. “This ain’t killing for profit,” concludes Johnny, “this is ritual.” A ritual barbeque, perhaps. Who wants a white hot?

The Jack presumed guilty in this movie is part of a preposterous conspiracy involving the highest powers in England. You’d think the Her Royal Highness would take out the ancestors of the Spice Girls before she offs a bunch of streetwalkers, but that assumes she can distinguish between the two.

When we finally get a look at Jack’s face we know he’s nuts because his pupils are enormous. Forget an expert in human anatomy, Johnny, look for the guy who photographs with a bad case of red-eye!

Directed by the Hughes brothers, whose corporation is best known for the 70′s hit “Rock the Boat,” From Hell is exceptionally well-made. But there’s more art in the frame than on the page, I’m afraid.

Save your money and download the screensaver.


Photos Copyright ©2001 20th Century Fox

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