Prof. Richard Harwell (Tom Scheier) discovers Jack the Ripper’s ring in a Tulsa, Oklahoma antique shop. Wearing the ring unleashes Jack from limbo and allows him to increase his bloody body count. Only horror geek Steve (Wade Tower) and skeletal dance instructor Carol (Mona Van Pernis) can stop the two-hundred-year-old killer from completing his mission. But can they save Prof. Harwell’s soul before Jack the Ripper (Tom Savini… for the final three minutes anyway) takes over forever?
The Ripper is a Shot on Video gore fest that lies to its audience. The artwork and credits proudly proclaim “Tom Savini is The Ripper”, yet he only appears at the very end. The stuntman/stand-in featured for almost all of the film looks more like Long John Holmes than Tom Savini. When he finally appears as the Ripper, Savini spouts about five lines of dialogue and has a slow-motion fight. The End.
Director Christopher Lewis pads the running time with lots of talking and bad dance class routines. Writer Bill Groves’ characters’ stand around talking about Vincent Price, Alfred Hitchcock, and of course Jack the Ripper. We even get to watch parts of Blood Cult with the two main characters, now that’s padding. It’s easy to guess the company that helped fund this slasher when the camera zooms in on every Coke can that makes it on screen.
Gore hounds will love seeing slit throats gush blood and Jack playing with entrails, but be patient. The red doesn’t really start flowing until thirty minutes into the film. Sadly, Savini wasn’t involved with the creation of the effects. On the acting front, Andrea Adams gives the best performance as Cindy, girlfriend to the horror geek. Most of the cast lacks chemistry but Adams is fun to watch. Mona Van Pernis is on the other end of the spectrum. Seeing her gaunt, emaciated figure on screen is a distraction. When Pernis pulls those thin lips over those bone white teeth it reminds me of Mr. Sardonicus.
The Ripper, on the surface, should be a slasher fan’s dream; Tom Savini as the world’s most famous serial killer. Something got lost in the mix, mainly suspense, action, and the participation of Savini. Bad movie fans will find enough quirky moments (badly dubbed love scenes, motor scooters exploding into massive fireballs, ill-fitted latex flapping around in the breeze) to warrant a look. Gore hounds are the ones who will really enjoy the stomach ripping and throat slashing. During a time when the MPAA was chopping up every slasher released in theaters, The Ripper slipped uncut onto video store shelves across America.