Blu-ray Review “Hands of the Ripper”

Actors: Eric Porter, Angharad Rees, Jane Merrow, Keith Bell
Directors: Peter Sasdy
MPAA Rated: Not Rated
Studio: Synapse Films
DVD Release Date: July 9, 2013
Run Time: 85 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Something about Jack the Ripper has always fascinated me. I think I am not the only one either. The mystery behind this character has been reproduced in cinema for many many years and it never gets old. Hammer delivered yet another Gothic and very brutal, while still unique approach to the character in this film. This film has also been noted as being one of the most gruesome Hammer horror films ever made and that is not an exaggeration. This Blu-ray also features footage never before seen and is completely uncut. So that should make fans very happy. Synapse Films has been behind releasing these classic films on Blu-ray with fantastic transfer and a wealth of special features. Keep them coming guys! A must purchase for any fans of Hammer.

Official Premise: An infant girl watches in horror as her father, the infamous Jack the Ripper, brutally murders her mother. Years later, young Anna (Angharad Rees) is now under the care of a fake psychic and has been forced into prostitution. At the end of a séance one evening, a woman is mysteriously killed. Dr. John Pritchard (Eric Porter) suspects Anna is the murderer but cannot understand how she could do this unspeakable act. Using new Freudian psychoanalysis techniques, Pritchard experiments on Anna and discovers a shocking secret. The spirit of the Ripper is alive and well, and may be possessing his own daughter! Can this evil be stopped before it’s too late?

Synapse Films is releasing “Hands of the Ripper” as part of their Hammer Horror Collection and as a Blu-ray + DVD combo pack. The film has been completely restored in high-definition and released uncut for the first time on Blu-ray in the U.S. The 1080p transfer looks stunning with its widescreen (1.66:1) presentation. There is a fantastic DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track included as well, which complements every scream and the film’s amazing score.

The special features are not too bad and worth checking out for Hammer fans. There is a great featurette in “The Devil’s Bloody Plaything: Possessed by Hands of the Ripper”, it clocks in just short of 30 minutes and packs some interesting interviews. “Slaughter of Innocence: The Evolution of Hammer Gore” is a neat motion still gallery. There is the U.S. television introduction and original theatrical trailer and TV spots. But the real score of this release for myself is the isolated music and effects audio tracks included. I would highly recommend that for any true Hammer fan!

Blu-ray Review "Ripper Street: Series 1"

Actors: Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn, Adam Rothenberg, Amanda Hale, MyAnna Buring
Directors: Andy Wilson
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Run Time: 480 minutes

Series: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

When I saw the trailer for “Ripper Street” on BBC America, I was immediately hooked.  A crime drama based around the killings of Jack the Ripper…where do I sign up?  This new series includes eight episodes which are each more incredibly gripping than the last. The show also boasts a very sharp cast including Matthew Macfadyen (“Anna Karenina”), Jerome Flynn (“Game of Thrones”), Adam Rothenberg (“Alcatraz”) and MyAnna Buring (“Downton Abbey”, “The Twilight Saga”).  The series is very character driven. This works perfectly since from the very first episode, you really find yourself loving this cast. I wish the series was longer, but at least we have something to look forward to since the series was already renewed. BBC American is bringing this show back in early 2014 with another eight episode series. Count me in! Until then be sure to pick this up and play catch-up with this.

Official Premise: BBC America’s compelling crime drama Ripper Street set in the seething backstreets of Victorian London comes to Blu-ray! Haunted by the failure to catch London’s most evil killer Jack the Ripper Inspector Edmund Reid now heads up the notorious H Division – the toughest police district in the East End. Charged with keeping order in the blood-stained streets of Whitechapel Reid and his men find themselves fighting to uphold justice and the rule of law; but always in the background lurks the fear of the Ripper is he back for another reign of terror? Rich episodic storylines meld with the intrigue of a criminal underworld festering on the hard streets of Victorian London following the battle of the men whose job it is to bring the law to the lawless

The Blu-ray presentation is decent but nothing special.  The episodes are presented in 1080i, which still looks sharp but could have been given the little extra effort that was required to make it a full HD Blu-ray. Same goes for the audio, which is an DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 surround track.  This works well with the show, since it is very dialogue driven.  Also the score is blended nicely here as well. I just would have like to seen them go the extra step to upgrade to the 5.1 track. The special features are decent as well for this release, though no commentary tracks.  There are three “Inside Looks” from the cast and production team. “London Calling: Whitechapel” is a tour of the Dublin, Ireland transformed into London’s East End during 1889. “Jack the Ripper: Prime Suspect” is a look into modern forensic science and its part in solving the case of Jack the Ripper.  Lastly there are some character profiles included.