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  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
    English - Hearing Impaired

    From Hell (Rental)

    20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 117 mins . M15+ . PAL


    1888 was not a good year to be a whore. If it wasn’t bad enough that you only made 10p for a rough shag in a dark alleyway with a fat, sweaty, smelly, ugly pig, someone called Jack the Ripper was going around slicing and dicing cheap tarts like it was going out of fashion. Nobody was ever caught for these crimes, and the murders remain one of the greatest ‘whodunnits’ in history.

    Over the years, many theories have been put forward about the possible identity and motivation behind Jack the Ripper. Many have been pooh-poohed, but some have stirred the imagination.

    One such theory was turned into a comic book called From Hell (and don’t feed me any bullshit about it being a ‘graphic novel’ and not a comic book, okay? A Ferrari badge and some red stripes do not make my rusting ’81 Ford a European supercar) and now that comic has been turned into a feature movie starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham.

    Depp is a drug addict police inspector working on the case of the hooker murders. His unique talent involves getting high, which gives him visions. That’s just like me! Eating too much satay chicken gives me visions. Horrible, horrible visions. And let’s not talk about the smells. But his visions let him ‘see’ certain aspects of the crime (but ever so conveniently he never sees the actual identity of the killer). Therefore he’s a pretty useful fellow to have around when the police otherwise have diddly-squat to go on and consider cutting open the eyes of the victims to see if an image of his identity has been left on the retina (that doesn’t actually happen in the film, I read that Scotland Yard tried it out of desperation).

    Heather Graham is a whore working the streets of London. Her whore friends are getting killed and her number at the whore-deli-o’-death is about to be called up. Let’s talk about Heather Graham for a bit.

    She sucks.

    Not literally, which would be apt considering her profession. I’m talking about her acting. Her Pommie slag accent is crap, as is most of her acting in this film. And worst of all when you consider she’s playing a hooker, you don’t see her get her kit off or shag anyone at all. Hello? Why did they even bother putting “Roller Girl” in this film? I mean, the ‘Heather Graham Equation’ is simple enough: Heather Graham + Ripper movie x hooker role = gratuitous nude scenes and sex. See? It’s not that bloody hard, is it?

    Focusing on the film itself, the results aren’t always much better than Graham’s efforts. It’s certainly a stylish and attractive looking film, with some stunning visuals and good turns from the mostly British cast. In fact, they should have cast ONLY British actors here. For the whore, Liz Hurley would be perfect. It would hardly be a stretch for her. As Depp’s part, maybe Richard E. Grant as a Withnail type character? He would be brilliant. “F**k the Ripper! I’m getting sober again and I don’t like it. I need wine and the finest opium known to humanity, NOW!” Ah, now that would be a great film. But alas, all the arty shots and silly moustaches in the world can’t make up for the fact that they give a whopping big clue early on about the identity of the killer. From then there’s not a lot of tension, just a matter of which one gets gutted next and how long ’til they figure it all out. And the fact is you don’t really care who gets gutted anyway. You can kill every hooker in England and their pets for all we care, just tell us who the Ripper is and be done with it.

    We just don’t care anymore. Heather Graham still has her clothes on. Booooring.


    But on the plus side, at least this DVD has a ripper transfer. Hehehe. Okay, sorry. But it is mighty good though, I kid you not. Framed at 2.35:1 and 16:9 enhanced, the only flaw to the image is the very, very slight aliasing. This is easily forgivable though. It’s also a very dark looking film, with lots of night settings, shadows and dim lighting. This makes plenty of sense. Imagine if this film was set during a beautiful sunny day: “Hello! Look at that! That nasty fellow is trying to kill that slut. On the street, during the day, in plain view of everyone. I can see his face. I know him! Jolly good show chaps” Case closed. No mystery, no comic book, no movie with Heather Graham not getting her bits out.

    Now, just for a moment, let’s pretend that she did strip off for a scene. How good would it have looked on this DVD? Very good. Very very good. My word, yes. The dark shadowy areas around her body are solid yet detail rich. Closer to the camera, her luscious skin has warm hues and plenty of clarity revealing the fine textures as the camera follows the curves and undulations of her body... and I better stop right about there I think.


    “Eerie, atmospheric and dynamic” are just a few words which describe the sound of From Hell. Funnily enough, they’re also the same words my wife uses to describe my cooking skills. This might explain the satay chicken issue mentioned previously. More importantly however, the mix creates a great environment sonically. It’s the little touches which enhance moments perfectly, such as the sub kicking out a deep thumping heartbeat which fills the room when Depp is off his nut and the enhanced and exaggerated slashing sounds accompanying the Ripper’s handiwork. Each of these embellishments in the sound design add to the overall effect and leave a great lasting impression.


    There’s nothing on this disc in the way of extra features. It’s a rental-only release for now, and the upcoming retail release will probably see a whole swag of delicious blood soaked bonuses bundled for your pleasure. The question you have to ask yourself is, can you wait? Well can ya, punk? You have to imagine me imitating Dirty Harry when you read that last bit. It makes it much more effective.


    From Hell was a highly anticipated film for many, and while they’ve given it loving attention to the look and sound, the film just isn’t highly memorable. If I had seen this at the cinema with my wife and I had asked her what she thought of it at the end, she would have said “It was alright.”

    It wasn’t ‘bad’ and it wasn’t ‘great’, it was just ‘alright’.

    For a rental release, it gets great picture and audio, but bugger all extras. But then who the hell has enough time to go through nine hours of commentaries and documentaries with an overnight rental anyway? Not I, that’s for sure. Other than trailers, extras are for flipping through on a lazy Sunday afternoon when you just couldn’t be stuffed talking to another person.

    I’ll leave it to you to decide what’s more important: watching just the film as a rental now, or waiting for a proper release. Now that I’ve seen the film, I could care less what little features they have up their sleeves.

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      And I quote...
    "'Ello guv, I'm Hever Graham, wanna give me DVD a twirl? I'll 'ave you know I'm ya basic cheap tart to rent..."
    - Vince Carrozza
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
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    • Receiver:
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    • Speakers:
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    • Surrounds:
          Wharfedale s500
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          DB Dynamics TITAN
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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