Ripper: Letter From Hell (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This is not a good movie, although it may fill your quota of serious teen slasher films if you are tired of all those jokey ones that have been coming out. This one takes it back to the nitty-gritty, with almost no moments of comic relief, a cast where everyone acts like a psychotic killer, plenty of plot, plenty of grisly operatic deaths. People are beheaded by sawmills, gutted like deer, dragged around with their hands in auto engines, covered with blood as they dance in a disco, you name it.


The basic premise: five years ago Molly was involved in a situation where all of her friends were killed by a vicious serial killer. She now finds herself in a class studying serial killers, when all the members of her study group are killed one-by-one, in methods duplicating the kills of Jack the Ripper. To intensify the Ripper parallel a bit, the kids in the study group all have the same initials as the Ripper's victims, except for one of them.

"Oh, I see, Scoop, so he's the killer, right?"

No. That was just a red herring. In fact, the whole Jack the Ripper thing was a red herring. Maybe. The first set of murders, from five years ago, had no such parallel.

"Well, Scoop, then it must be somebody who was present at both sets of killings, right? The one now, and the one five years ago?" 

Nah, too easy. Maybe it's just a coincidence that the same girl was in both groups, or maybe the second series is a copy of the first. There were two people involved in both sets of murders: (1) the star - the girl who survived the first murders, who certainly exhibits a variety of psychotic behavior patterns. (2) the incredibly creepy detective with a rather non-standard hairstyle by police regs - he looks like the comic book version of Conan the Barbarian. He also wears one of those Sherlock Holmes coats. Sorry to report he does not wear a deerstalker cap. He also exhibits creepy, psychotic behavior.

In fact, every character in this film exhibited creepy and psychotic behavior patters, and most of them were trying to frame someone else. The teacher of the class was deliberately framing one of the students, but we don't know why. The detective and the survivor chick may also have been planting evidence to blame other people. In addition, one of the other guys in the class was hiding a connection to the first set of murders five years ago.

Confused? So was I. But that was just the simple stuff. Toward the end of the movie we don't even know when we are seeing reality and when we are looking through the eyes of an insane person. In several scenes, the survivor chick from today and the survivor chick from five years ago were both present together. Or maybe that was another chick. When today's redheaded survivor chick addressed her teacher and her former blonde self and says "you killed them all", to whom was she speaking, herself or the teacher?

Well, I think it finally boiled down to the survivor chick and the teacher, who was also a survivor of a mass murder, as luck would have it. Are they both psychotic killers? We don't know, because the film does one of those things where it has five different endings, and each one tends to call our previous conclusion into doubt.

  • she seems to swing an axe at him. At this point, we don't know if she's the killer or defending herself against the killer
  • but then we find out the guy did it and is sent to the electric chair,
  • but then we see the survivor chick in another five years, with a black wig this time, apparently ready to start a third killing cycle
  • then we see the survivor chick in Victorian England, reciting the words of Jack the Ripper's letters
  • then we see her wake up, and it was all a dream.

So if you figure this out, you can explain it to me.


Amazingly, this film inspired a sequel.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Widescreen letterbox, 1.85:1

  • commentary and interviews


 A.J. Cook wears a nightie in the rain, and it gives off the effect of toplessness, although she is technically covered.

The Critics Vote

  • no reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 4.7 
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a D+. Not a very taut story, and just too damned confusing for my taste. A potpourri of red herrings and mcguffins. Everyone walks around acting like they could be a psychotic killer, and at the end I still didn't know who it really was, or if there were two, except it wasn't any of the dead ones. Or was it? Even the dead ones might have been the killer of the first set of victims, making the second set copycat murders. Hmmmmmmmmm ....

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