Jack el destripador de Londres (1971)

a.k.a. - Seven Murders for Scotland Yard (USA)

Paul Naschy stars in a sub-par Spanish giallo set in London. Televista US R0 DVD.

The Film

In swinging London a prostitute is brutally murdered by an unseen assailant and the police discover that her organs have been surgically removed. They instantly recall the legendary Jack the Ripper murders as do the media and the killer himself starts to taunt police with letters signed from Jack. The police suspect Pedro (Paul Naschy), a crippled Spanish acrobat whose wife was among those killed. However they have nothing but intuition to attach him to the crimes and as the murders intensify, there is pressure on the police to find the killer...

Director, producer and co-writer José Luis Madrid takes obvious inspiration from the burgeoning Italian Giallo genre in this updating of the Jack the Ripper saga - the murders are carried out by an unseen black gloved killer and the film contains an 'obvious' suspect as well as a small number of peripheral characters who might also be suspects. Indeed the facsimile is so complete that the film could easily be mistaken for an Italian production and there are no noticable traces of Spanish influence in the storyline at all.

As a giallo story, Jack el destripador de Londres works well, building up a lot of mystery over the identity of the killer and working towards an effective and climactic ending that does not leave too many open questions (although an epilogue sequence does seem to have been added in to explain one apparent non-sequitar). Unfortunately the story is not well expanded into a feature length film - there is simply not enough plot to fill the runtime and the film seems extensively padded - a good 15 minutes could have been trimmed or replaced with subplots without affecting the main storyline. The end result is that a lot of the tension the giallo story could have provided, is lost as the film becomes simply tiresome.

Behind the camera, José Luis Madrid's work is generally solid and makes good use of location shooting in London (although amusingly throughout these scenes, passers-by can be seen opening looking and pointing at the camera). The editing however could have used a lot of work and the film certainly lacks the relatively slick, confident flow of Paul Naschy's own werewolf pictures - this also extends to Piero Piccioni's soundtrack which is often cut-off mid-flow and is missing in many scenes that could have used it to help build tension. The most inept element of the production is actually the film's all important stabbing scenes which use some very fake looking body parts in close up, while the long shots just show the upper half of a screaming actress with no visible blood or blades. It never convinces and ruins the impact of these key scenes.

Paul Naschy was obviously cast for marquee value here - after the success of his werewolf classic La noche de Walpurgis (1971) he was quickly becoming known as an icon of Spanish horror. Unfortunately this script does not give him a chance for any of the phyiscal monster acting at which he was already acomplished and although he would develop his straight acting in later films he is still quite wooden here. A couple of familiar faces, including Andrés Resino (who also appeared in La noche de Walpurgis) crop up, but the standard of acting is generally quite poor - most of the actors playing the British police in particular are very wooden.

Despite some good ideas, Jack el destripador de Londres is a generally quite mediocre giallo. Lacking any real Spanish character and with Naschy badly underused it cannot even be recommended as a curio.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Paul Naschy - Spanish horror star who made his name in werewolf film La noche de Walpurgis (1971)
Directed by anyone interesting? José Luis Madrid - a very little known Spanish film maker, he directed the German/Spanish Western Wer kennt Jonny R.? (1966) starring Lex Barker and forgotten Naschy horror Los crímenes de Petiot (1973)
Is it scary? No.
Any gore or violence ? Some gore in the stabbing scenes and a little blood, but very fake in appearance.
Any sex or nudity? None on this print (although the uncut print would likely have had several female topless and nude scenes) see explanation below in 'Cuts'
Who is it for? Not particularly recommended - of interest to Naschy completists only.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour.
The print has a lot of speckling and minor damage as well as frequently faded colours. Always watchable however and detail is generally good.
Audio English - sounds fine.
Subtitles None
Extras The disc includes:
  • Slide gallery - a sequence of still images from the film. As a video file
Region Region 0 (ALL) - NTSC
Other regions? None known.
Cuts? The film appears to be presented in its Spanish "clothed" version and is completely lacking in nude scenes. Most Spanish horror films of the era had sex scenes shot once for international markets and then with the actresses covered up to appease the stricter domestic censors. (Of interest, during a very brief flashback montage, footage is used from one of the unclothed scenes). It is not clear if any of gore scenes were excised in this print. Print language is English.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 4th August 2010 - uploaded as part of the Naschy Blogathon.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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