From Hell (2001) – Movie Review

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 I’ve learned a new word, ‘tailbangers.’

From Hell (2001)

Directed by Allen Hughes, Albert Hughes
Story by Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell

Starring:
Johnny Depp
Heather Graham
Ian Holm
Robbie Coltrane
Ian Richardson
Jason Flemyng

There comes a time in the life of any creative person that they become intrigued with the mystery and violent history of Jack the Ripper. There’s plenty of information out there but no answers. He, his motives, and his actions remains an enigma. The story of Jack the Ripper has had its theories and speculations. This film takes the theory of an intelligent man with medical knowledge to its most extreme tethered ends of conspiracy ideas and wild unabridged speculation. Somehow this film makes the most sense out of any avenues I’ve discovered by reading or watching numerous television specials.

The film is loosely based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore, who detests the film so strongly that he disavowed all film contracts for any of his wFrom Hell 2001 - posterorks in the future. However, I personally like the film and have never seen the graphic novel myself. I get the feeling that this could be much like Stephen King’ s disliking of The Shining despite wide public acceptance of the Kubrick film version.

The film was directed by the Hughes Brothers and is complex enough to prohibit my detail of it without making it sound detached. What you can expect is a highly intellectual film that is part whodunit, with gothic visuals and horrific murder scenes, though only shown in strobe-like flashes. Johnny Depp plays detective Frederick Abberline, an Absinthe and Opium addicted investigator that relies as much upon his psychic visions as he does his own intelligent fact finding. Heather Graham plays a fine part as Mary Kelly, one of the rough and tumble tailbangers (the word for prostitute in that day) whose group is being stalked and systematically wiped off the earth. Abberline’s clues lead him into conflict with the Freemasons and suspicions that lead to top officials in the British Monarchy.

I have to admit, the first time I watched this I didn’t quite follow it and turned it off before half way. I was expecting something more along the lines of straight horror than mystery and conspiracy. But I gave my full attention the next time and was glad I stuck with it. The actors offer fantastic portrayals, everyone of them, and the visual aspect is just as arresting. It has an ending that is both triumphant and tragic, which is not an easy feat by any means. It is an interesting film that will entertain your mind.

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A tale of mystery, conspiracy and intrigue combined with a horror thriller makes this an entertaining pick for those looking for an intellectually stimulating story.

I give it 4.2 nasty slashes of a shiny blade upon the blood drenched cobblestones of the dismal London death scale.

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Fun facts:

In the Graphic Novel version, the narration follows the killer throughout the story, not the investigation. So you can surmise that the film was substantially rewritten.

Great care for detail was put into the films set up of the crime scenes and the wound patterns on the victims. Photos of the actual murdered victims were used to set up the scenes. The photos can be seen hanging on the walls at the police station in the film. The only murder that they did not reproduce in accurate detail was the last (believed to be Mary Kelly in real life) because it was so violent and graphic the directors feared an X-rating on the film.

The real letter from Jack the Ripper sent to Police Headquarters in 1888 started with the heading, From Hell…thus the title of the film.
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Horns (2014) – movie review

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Horns (2014)Horns poster

Directed by Alexandre Aja

Starring:
Daniel Radcliffe
Max Minghella
Joe Anderson
Juno Temple
Heather Graham

(slight spoilers)
I usually like movies based on a good book, even if some aspects are different. I realize the events of a book that takes over a month to read are not going to fit into a two hour film. I know that inner thoughts from the main character are not going to be translated well to the screen and little asides that add depth to characters will not work well in a film. Things will be changed to visual aspects of story telling and some parts will be left out. This film is adapted from the book of the same name by Joe Hill.

Iggy Parrish wakes up one day to find his girlfriend, the love of his life, was murdered. He is accused of killing her, but evidence Horns pic 8is lost making prosecution near impossible. He then wakes with horns growing out of his head which gives everyone he meets the desire to confess their greatest sins to him. He has gained some powers of the devil, where he can lead people into temptation among other things. It’s kinda’ like the opposite of Bruce Almighty 🙂

This is not a typical horror film. Despite the strange, horror-like occurrences in the story, the real horrors are the true to life aspects. The break-up in the diner was a scenario we’ve probably all lived through. I once had a situation where everyone thought I did something wrong (something went missing in the store I worked at) and no matter what I said, no one believed me. I was later vindicated but too many bad things were said and it had cost me several relationships. There are other aspects to this film that are excruciating but lean more toward drama, the horror of real lifeHorns pic 2 or in the classical sense, the comedy, which in early opera and plays meant the painful irony of life. Iggy is laughed at, scoffed at, and wrongly accused in this film. False accusations and ridicule are painful parts of life many of us have probably dealt with in our own existence.

It’s not until the third act that this film (and the book) resembles a true horror story. Ig sharpens his horns (so to speak) and the horrors begins. The ending is dismal but there is also a reconciliation aspect to it. In the book, the final showdown between Iggy and his best friend, Lee, is much bigger. I do think Alexandre Aja delivered a good adaptation of the book. I’m not sure if that translates to a good watch for those who have not read the book. I’m sure some of my enjoyment came from re-living parts of the book I liked so much. It’s not a frightening story. It is a great horror story nevertheless, one that I think can be enjoyed by not only horror fans, but a wider general audience.

Horns pic 16

A tragic story that keeps you glued to the screen for its mystery and murder aspects and mesmerized by the strange affliction of the main character, Iggy Parrish.

I give it 4.0 sinful confessions out of 5 on the scale of guilty, gluttonous lies for selfish deeds and self preservation needs

Read my book review here: Joe Hill – Horns