Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


JACK'S BACK (1988). Director/writer: Rowdy Herrington.

John Wesford (James Spader) works at a medical clinic in Los Angeles, which is currently besieged by a maniac who is reenacting the murders of Jack the Ripper exactly one hundred years after they originally occurred. Besides John, suspects include the strange shrink Dr. Battera (Robert Picardo), John's obnoxious boss Sidney Tannerson (Rod Loomis), his beefy co-worker Jack Pendler (Rex Ryon), and others. John comes across a murdered hooker named Denise (Danitza Kingsley), sees someone running from the scene, and then the movie does a 180 degree turn, with a new lead character turning up just as you're scratching your head at what's going on ... Spader and the other actors are fine, but Jack's Back substitutes a mid-movie twist for a solid plot, with the killer's motivations and logic unresolved, and the 100 Years Later Jack the Ripper premise pretty much goes nowhere. The BBC series Whitechapel: The Ripper Returns took the same idea years later and really ran with it. Cynthia Gibb plays Spader's co-worker and a potential love interest. This probably looked good on paper but it's sunk by its contrivances.

Verdict: Although there's some suspense of a minor kind, this is a Ripper movie you can live without. **.

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