From Hell

From Hell

4.3 18
Director: Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes

Cast: Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes, Johnny Depp, Heather Graham

     
 

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The true-life horror story of Jack the Ripper gets a new spin in this screen adaptation of the acclaimed graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. In 1888, a ruthless and cold-blooded killer begins hunting prostitutes in East London, and while the murderer's work is savage, the mutilation of his victims suggests the fiend has an extensive medical background.… See more details below

Overview

The true-life horror story of Jack the Ripper gets a new spin in this screen adaptation of the acclaimed graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. In 1888, a ruthless and cold-blooded killer begins hunting prostitutes in East London, and while the murderer's work is savage, the mutilation of his victims suggests the fiend has an extensive medical background. Amidst a background of political unrest and barely contained scandal among the royal family, the murderer's grisly exploits shock and frighten all of England, and one of Scotland Yard's top inspectors, Fred Abberline (Johnny Depp), is put on the case, along with his partner, Peter Godley (Robbie Coltrane). Abberline, depending on one's viewpoint, is either blessed or cursed with second sight, and while he blurs his ability to see future events with opium and other drugs, he still has an uncanny ability to ferret out dangerous criminals, which is put to the test as he and Godley search for the Ripper. As Abberline and Godley investigate the neighborhood where the crimes occur, they become acquainted with the prostitutes and street people who were friends and compatriots of the victims, and Abberline finds himself falling in love with Mary Kelly (Heather Graham), a beautiful Irish streetwalker. As Abberline tries to identify the killer before Mary Kelly can become the next victim, he and Godley have to contend with Sir Charles Warren (Ian Richardson), their superior who is keen to pin the murders on a culprit who isn't British, and Sir William Gull (Ian Holm), a respected physician who has his own ideas about the murders and the benefits of psychosurgery. From Hell marked a change of pace for Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes, the sibling directorial team best known for their gritty depictions of America's urban underground in such films as Menace II Society and Dead Presidents.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
Mutilated corpses are strewn liberally about From Hell, a gripping and gruesome thriller directed by Albert and Allen Hughes (Menace II Society). Based on Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's graphic novel about Jack the Ripper, From Hell stars Johnny Depp as an opium-smoking and unaccountably psychic police inspector whose clairvoyant visions aid him in his pursuit of the legendary slasher in 1888 London. Although the real-life Ripper was never caught, the film conforms to the comic book's speculative and provocative revelations as to his true identity. Unlike the comic, however, the film withholds the identity of this killer until the end, presenting a complex mystery awash in stylish, psychedelic realizations of the inspector's second sight and plenty of blood and violence. As if to counterbalance the resulting intensity, Depp plays up the inspector's opium-induced lethargy, effectively anchoring the proceedings. Heather Graham offers a strong, understated performance as a prostitute whose survival seems more and more uncertain (even if she seems a bit too well groomed to fit in with her fellow streetwalkers), and Ian Holm is typically tense as a retired surgeon who aids the inspector in his investigations. Ultimately, the cast takes a backseat to the Hugheses' calculated opium dream sequences and grisly carnage. From Hell is a grim tale that's true to its title and -- for those with strong nerves and even stronger stomachs -- a dose of some wicked thrills. The two-DVD Director's Edition includes audio commentary, a behind-the-scenes documentary, 23 additional scenes, and an alternate ending.
All Movie Guide
Allen and Albert Hughes clearly studied films like Bram Stoker's Dracula and Sleepy Hollow in preparation for their own gothic costume horror, from the operatic camera work to the eye-candy fetishizing of blood and other atmospheric fluids. From Hell boasts gorgeous art direction and as comfortable a genre shift by its directors as one could imagine, given that modern inner-city dramas (Menace II Society, Dead Presidents) were their claim to fame. Although the film's moldering period look may not be trailblazing, it's handled as adroitly as Francis Ford Coppola (Dracula) or Tim Burton (Hollow) presented similar cityscapes, carriages, and cobblestone streets. The directors' own touches distinguish the effort, such as the cool use of time lapse photography to chart policemen and onlookers rubbernecking a victim over a period of hours. It's a 19th century London that's filthy and hopeless, in every respect except for the leads -- Heather Graham is too manicured for a destitute street walker, and Johnny Depp is, well, unavoidably handsome. What holds From Hell back is that even with gruesome disembowelments and sprays of arterial blood, it's never all that creepy or unsettling. Beyond a few morbid snippets of dialogue, you never get a sense of Jack the Ripper as a character, given the film's (correct) decision to cloak his identity until the end. The chosen plot is a reasonable way to address the lingering unknowns about the killer, but it keeps him at a regrettable distance. In the era of Hannibal Lecter, viewers expect a dynamic villain to haunt them after they leave the theater -- especially if it's one of history's most methodologically twisted serial killers.
Entertainment Weekly - Owen Gleiberman
The Hughes brothers work with commanding restraint -- they're more interested in disturbing you than in getting you to leap under your seat in fright -- yet they are hardly ones to step back from operatic mayhem.

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Product Details

Release Date:
09/03/2002
UPC:
0024543050742
Original Release:
2001
Rating:
R
Source:
20th Century Fox

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Johnny Depp Inspector Frederick George Abberline
Heather Graham Mary Kelly
Ian Holm Sir William Gull
Robbie Coltrane Sgt. Peter Godley
Ian Richardson Sir Charles Warren
Jason Flemyng Netley
Katrin Cartlidge "Dark Annie" Chapman
Terence Harvey Ben Kidney
Susan Lynch Liz Stride
Lesley Sharp Kate Eddowes
Annabelle Apsion Polly
Mark Dexter Albert Sickert/Prince Edward

Technical Credits
Albert Hughes Director,Executive Producer
Allen Hughes Director,Executive Producer
Kym Barrett Costumes/Costume Designer
George Bowers Editor
Martin Childs Production Designer
Peter Deming Cinematographer
Thomas M. Hammel Executive Producer
Jane Hamsher Producer
Terry Hayes Screenwriter
Trevor Jones Score Composer
Dan Lebental Editor
Don Murphy Producer
Amy Robinson Executive Producer
Rafael Yglesias Screenwriter

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