Assault! Jack the Ripper Review

The Film

The second of Mondo Macabro's recent Nikkatsu releases is an excellent example of how desperate the roman porno and pink sub genres became in trying to find an audience. Like other exploitation genres like spaghetti westens and gialli, violence and growing levels of explicitness offered a way of making products more intense and unlike what people could catch on their TVs. In fact, this film actually seems to be so deliberately extreme that it is almost a satire on the genre it represents.

After ploughing the furrows of geishas, kinky sex and sadomasochism, filmmakers turned to the taboo of rape and murder. Much as American filmmakers looked at outsiders in works like Badlands, this film found inspiration from real life to offer a supposed record of social perversion. Truthfully though this was sleaze for tired palattes and Yasuharu Hasebe's film seems to hammer home just how exhausted the audience's appetites have become.
Hasebe seems only too aware of this desperation of the genre in his film. A couple of examples come to mind where the director deliberately mixes the sight of sexual murder with food. That may be enough to convince some that a sick joke is being made but do remember that here the central character is a chef who kills with a cake knife. Furthermore as the film builds, the act of killing becomes one of penetration substituting for the sexual inadequacy of the murderer and fulfilling the requirements of the sick appetite of the audience.

Objectively, the director seems to give his audience what they want whilst satirising his own work at the same time. This story of a chef who discovers his sexual bloodlust through his relationship with a rebellious waitress is never quite what it seems. For a start, the female lead, supposedly the leading eye-candy, is far from an oil painting, and the initial drive of this couple to carry out a social rebellion as oppressed workers taking vengeance against more powerful types is eventually abandoned for the simple excess of meeting depraved tastes.
The fetishised climax is where our murderer exceeds what's left of his inhibitions by killing the first fully innocent victim, a mother dressed in traditional costume, and moves on to an elegant shopkeeper, and then a room full of nurses. This progression serves to destroy any identification with him and to point out where this building appetite will go. Where we may have understood a little of this mad couple's rage at the beginning, we are left with a misogyny that must possess and destroy women at the end.

On one level this is clearly very offensive material which equates sexual assault with erotica. And that seems to be the point as Hasebe satirises and unsettles as the film builds to the deeply disturbing resolution. Some probably leave the film having had their cheap thrills, but I am not sure you are meant to leave it thinking better of yourself or the appetites that you have sated through watching it. I do rather think that you are meant to dislike how this mild mannered killer affects you and I think the proof of that is the choice to end the film as the director does.
It is important to remember though that this is just a film and one that knows how shabby it is. When it serves up the nudity it is supposed to, it then cuts from nipples to strawberries and it is almost laughing at the people watching it. In that respect you might find this a cynical piece of work or completely morally bankrupt, but I have to say that this self-subversion is what really drew me in. I shouldn't, but I really enjoyed how revolted and seduced I was by the growing nastiness.

If you enjoy knowing transgression in your cinema, then you may very well enjoy an interesting work. If you don't, then this is certainly something you need to avoid.

Transfer and Sound

Ironically, for such an unpleasant movie, this looks very nice indeed. The picture is relatively sharp with strong colours and confident contrast, and the film is presented in anamorphic at 2.35:1. Edges betray no hint of excessive enhancement and Mondo Macabro have done a fine job here.
The sound is good too with very minor distortion and hiss and the English subtitles are clear, optional and well composed.

Discs and Special Features

Another all region dual layer disc containing almost identical special features to the ones on the Watcher in the Attic disc. The same episode of the Mondo Macabro series is included on Nikkatsu, the same trailer reel, and the same trailers and text essay on the studio find themselves on this disc as well. There is a different interview with Jasper Sharp who explains how the director left the studio when it started making roman porno films and was lured back. A text essay on the film completes the special features


It's not going to win any humanitarian awards, as Assault! Jack the Ripper is sick and depraved. It is very well made and satirising the genre it represents though and if you want to watch the nastiness you may enjoy the verve of the film-making.

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Last updated: 18/04/2018 21:27:23

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