From Hell (2001) – Movie Review

From Hell 2001 - pic 12
 I’ve learned a new word, ‘tailbangers.’

From Hell (2001)

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

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.

From Hell 2001 - pic 2

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.

From Hell 2001 - pic 14

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.

The Raven (2012) – Movie review

The Raven pic 4

The Raven coverThe Raven (2012)
The Raven is a fictional account concerning the last days in the life of Edgar Allan Poe. On October, 7th, 1849, he was found on a park bench in Baltimore, close to death. He died a short time later. This film attempts to explain the events leading to his demise. A psychopath is stalking Baltimore, killing innocent victims and using Poe’s stories and prose as a guideline. Life imitating art. Poe is called upon by the Baltimore police to help unravel a series of clues and riddles left by the perpetrator. The killer kidnaps Poe’s love interest, Emily Hamilton, and holds her hostage – actually, he buries her alive, in a coffin – and dares Poe to unravel the mysteries he has laid out and find her.

The Pendulum scene is quite jarring as I myself began to suck in my gut as I watched every swipe of the blood splattering blade. The film portrays a thick gothic atmosphere as horse-drawn coaches race through the lamp-lit, cobblestone streets of old Baltimore, in attempts to beat the killer before the next death occurs. The Raven pic 1There are rich sets and wonderful costume portraying this period piece without being garish. John Cusack does a good job portraying the dark and egotistical drunkard, Poe, but the script never seems to take this aspect far enough. Alice Eve, as Emily, shows herself to be a solid actress, refined, and playing her part with an understated charm. All the acting is solid in this film, with equally good parts by Luke Evans, as Detective Fields and Sam Hazeldine, as Ivan. So, why isn’t this a better film?

One drawback is that much of the murders are not seen on film, which I think would have had more impact. Aside from the pendulum scene, in most cases we get to see the dead bodies but not the actual murders themselves. As far as mysteries go, this film leaves no room for the viewer to use their mind and intellect to solve the clues for themselves. Much like Poe’s stories, ‘The Raven’ must have a tragic ending. The impact of the ‘trade-off’ at the end could have been an emotional pinnacle for the film but the director failed to capitalize on it and missed a great opportunity. However, I think the biggest problem with this film is – it reminds one of just how good E.A. Poe’s stories were and makes you wish you were entrenched in one of those stories rather than this film. It is a watchable film for the Poe fan despite falling short in so many areas, but more likely for novelty reason and visual appeal rather than story.
The Raven pic 5 The Raven pic 2 The Raven

Movies I want to see in 2012

Just a few movies I am looking forward to seeing:

 I enjoy dark, brooding films. This one is a fictional story based on Edgar Allan Poe:

The Raven


Tim Burton’s stop motion figures come to life in his latest film:


A new sci-fi masterpeice by Ridley Scott? We’ll see.


Having grown up watching all the Harryhausen/Scheer fantasy movies, including Jason & the Argonauts and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, I have a nostalgic desire to see these new fantasy/mythology films:

Wrath of the Titans

Jack the Giant Killer

That’s all for now,

I’ll post some more at a later date.