The unconscious-the vast, unknowable, unexaminable part of the mind. Sigmund Freud
The infant daughter of Jack the Ripper is witness to the brutal murder of her mother by her father. During the murder light from the fireplace dances on a chandelier. Anna is kissed on the cheek by her father as she sees her mother dead on the floor.
Fifteen years later, Anna (Angharad Rees), is living under the guardianship of Mrs. Golding (Dora Bryan). Mrs. Golding earns her living as a fake medium. At one séance are Dr. John Pritchard (Eric Porter) and his son, Michael (Keith Bell). Dr. Pritchard is a psychiatrist and a dedicated debunker of spiritualist frauds. He is hoping to catch Mrs. Golding in the act of defrauding her customers. He doesn’t come away with any solid proof but he does find Anna hiding behind a curtain. It’s a perfect place for her to influence the events of the séance.
One other guest is Mr. Dysart (Derek Godfrey). He is a Member of Parliament. As soon as the others have left he gives Mrs. Golding some money in exchange for Anna’s virginity. Dysart offers Anna an expensive brooch. The lights from the room reflecting off the brooch put her into a trance. Dysart believes that Anna’s trance is manufactured. Believing he is being conned he gets angry. Mrs. Golding comes upstairs in response to Dysart’s increasing anger. Trying to comfort the girl Mrs. Golding kisses her on the cheek. Anna then picks up a fireplace stabs Mrs. Golding with enough force to pin her to the door. Dr. Pritchard who is still waiting for a cab on the other side of the street hears Mrs. Golding scream. He runs to the door and almost runs into Dysart fleeing the scene.
Everyone in attendance at the séance is called in to testify for Scotland Yard. Dr. Pritchard covers for Dysart. The inspector (Norman Bird) is still suspicious and regards Dysart as the prime suspect. Pritchard is eager to take over guardianship of Anna. The doctor is a disciple of Freud. Believing that Anna was responsible for Mrs. Golding’s death he wants to study Anna. He is interested in studying the homicidal mind. Covering for Dysart gives him leverage. Unfortunately he has been unable to determine what triggers her murderous rages.
Dysart wants Pritchard to take Anna to a medium. He believes Anna is possessed by a demon. Prichard baulks at this idea but after a couple of nasty murders he brings her to Madam Bullard (Margaret Rawlings). The medium tells Pritchard that Anna is the daughter of Jack the Ripper.
“Hands of the Ripper” was released in 1971 and was directed by Peter Sasdy. Produced by Hammer Studios it differs from the normal classic Hammer fare due to the more graphic nature of the murders. It still has the Hammer panache but with a little more blood and gore. It is often referred to as a Hammer slasher movie. Some go as far as saying that “Hands of the Ripper” is the first of the slasher film genre. The 70’s are also said to be Hammer’s schizophrenic period.
The introduction of Pritchard’s fascination with Freud is used as part of the story’s plot. Anna’s compulsive reaction to certain stimulus due to a deep seated trauma of the past is text book Freud. Although Freud did not invent the conscious versus the unconscious mind, he did a lot to make the idea popular.