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Hands of the Ripper
Hands of the rippermp.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPeter Sasdy
Written byL.W. Davidson
Edward Spencer Shew
Produced byAida Young
StarringEric Porter
Angharad Rees
Jane Merrow
Keith Bell
Derek Godfrey
CinematographyKenneth Talbot
Edited byChris Barnes
Music byChristopher Gunning
Distributed byRank Film Distributors (U.K.)
Universal Pictures (U.S.)
Release date
3 October 1971 (U.K.)
Running time
85 minutes

Hands of the Ripper is a 1971 British horror film, directed by Peter Sasdy for Hammer Film Productions. It was written by L. W. Davidson from a story by Edward Spencer Shew, and produced by Aida Young. The film was released in the U.S. as a double feature with Twins of Evil.


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A young girl named Anna witnesses her mother’s murder at the hands of her father, revealed to be none of than Jack the Ripper. Fifteen years later, Anna is a troubled young woman suffering from repressed memories and 'emotional triggers' which cause violent outbursts whenever physical affection is shown towards her. Afterwards, Anna has no recollection of these heinous actions, crimes emulating the behavior of her infamous father. A Freudian psychiatrist named Dr. Pritchard is convinced he can cure Anna and takes her in, leading to both horrific, as well as tragic, consequences.



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The film features British actor Eric Porter as the doctor, and also stars Jane Merrow, Keith Bell and Derek Godfrey. It has an early starring role for Angharad Rees.

It was filmed at Pinewood Studios, with some location work at St. Paul's Cathedral, London.

Critical reception

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Film critic Leonard Maltin gave the film 2 1/2 out of a possible 4 stars. In his review he stated that the film had "[a] good atmosphere and solid performances, but after a good start, dissolves into a series of bloody murders."[1] The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films wrote that the film "expertly mixes the sophistication expected of Hammer's films with the gore its new audiences demanded."[2] Andy Boot considers the film "flawed, and so close to the fag end of Gothic that it could almost be a parody", but that it is "nonetheless a film well worth watching". He opines that Peter Sasdy "atoned for his appalling Countess Dracula with a much pacier handling of this story."[3] Matt Brunson ascertained “This latter-day offering from Hammer Films ratchets up the gore, but thankfully not at the expense of an engrossing plot that embeds its psychological content in a series of effective set-pieces.”[4] Dr Lenera noted: “There’s a surprising sensitivity about Hands Of The Ripper despite it also being a film where someone has to die a bloody death every twenty minutes.”[5] Tim Brayton ascribed how the film “… is quite a strange, offbeat way to go about the business of making a Jack the Ripper picture."[6] Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 88%, based on seven reviews, with a rating average of 7.1/10.[7]

Alternate Version

“Hands of the Ripper” already had a scant running time of under ninety minutes. The excising of gore scenes for broadcast television reduced the runtime so significantly, additional footage was later filmed to pad out the TV versions. The new footage featured character actor Severn Darden as a psychologist providing introductions and closings under the auspices of discussing the events in the film as a famous case. Only audio exists of these wraparounds since the footage was amongst the losses in the 2008 Universal Studios fire.[8]


  1. ^ Maltin, Leonard; Carson, Darwyn; Sader, Luke (2013). Leonard Maltin's 2014 Movie Guide. Penguin Press. p. 582. ISBN 978-0-451-41810-4.
  2. ^ Hearn & Barnes 2007, p. 147.
  3. ^ Andy Boot. Fragments of Fear: An Illustrated History of British Horror Films. London: Creation Books, 1996, pp 117-19.
  4. ^ Brunson, Matt (11 October 2020). "PRIME CUTS". Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  5. ^ Lenera, Dr (28 November 2017). "DOC'S JOURNEY INTO HAMMER FILMS #105: HANDS OF THE RIPPER [1971]". Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  6. ^ Brayton, Tim (28 October 2018). "Hammer Horror: My heart belongs to daddy". Alternate Ending. Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  7. ^ "Hands of the Ripper (1971) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  8. ^ "Review: Peter Sasdy's Hands of the Ripper on Synapse Films DVD". Slant Magazine. 17 July 2013.