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->''"Ninety years ago I was a freak. Today I'm an amateur."''
-->-- '''UsefulNotes/JackTheRipper'''

1979 novel by Karl Alexander and movie directed by Creator/NicholasMeyer (which, while based on the book, was made before it was published) starring Creator/MalcolmMcDowell, Creator/DavidWarner and Creator/MarySteenburgen.

In 1893, aspiring writer and inventor Creator/HGWells ([=McDowell=]) invites some friends over to dinner, where he shows them one of his latest inventions -- [[TheTimeMachine a device he claims can travel through time]]. Despite the general mockery he receives, one of them -- a surgeon called John Leslie Stevenson (Warner) -- takes particular interest in his claims, and not for no reason; moments after, the police intrude into Wells' home, claiming to have traced none other than UsefulNotes/JackTheRipper to the premises. When a search reveals that Stevenson has disappeared, Wells realises that not only is Stevenson the Ripper, but that he has used Wells' time machine to escape into the future and evade justice.

Appalled at the thought of having unleashed a monster onto the social utopia he believes the future will be, he decides to follow Stevenson into the future and bring him back to face justice. Arriving in San Francisco in 1979, Wells finds that the future is not everything he thought or hoped, befriends an attractive, feminist bank clerk called Amy (Steenburgen) and discovers that Stevenson is up to his old tricks -- and that Amy may be his next victim...

Shot on location in UsefulNotes/SanFrancisco, showing off the cable cars, Bay Bridge, Golden Gate, the exterior of the Exploratorium, etc. Nothing to do with the song by Music/CyndiLauper (except that the movie apparently inspired the song's title).

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!!Provides examples of:
* AnArmAndALeg: There's a severed hand at the scene of one of the Ripper's murders.
* ArmorPiercingSlap: When Wells first catches up to Jack in the future, he attempts to reason with him, explaining that they don't belong there. Jack goes into a speech about how much he relishes the violent world he's discovered, and how easy it is to buy guns with cash, until finally the normally peaceful Wells can't take it anymore, slaps him in the face, and screams, "Stop it!"
* ArtisticLicenseHistory: There is no evidence that Jack the Ripper was active after 1888. Of course, the movie does say that the Ripper hadn't struck in years.
* BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy: If not actually the first story to be built on the idea of 'hey, what if Creator/HGWells really ''did'' have a time machine?', then certainly one of the {{Trope Codifier}}s.
* BornInTheWrongCentury: Stevenson. He finds out that being Jack the Ripper in the Twentieth Century makes him an ''amateur'' when it comes to killing, and feels right at home starting up his killing spree again.
* ChekhovsGun:
** The "send the passenger to infinity" key, explained in an early scene. It winds up sending Stevenson drifting through the void for eternity.
** Amy's comment about how the door to her apartment needs to be slammed hard to close. This is how the Ripper gains entry to the place.
** Wells carefully watches Amy to see how she drives the car. Later, he puts that lesson to use.
* ChessMotifs: Starting with an actual game between Stevenson and Wells, and continuing with the theme of thinking ahead.
* CoincidentalBroadcast: Fortunately, the TV shows that Stevenson flips by when he wants to make a point about the depravity of 1979 society are mostly filled with disturbing violence, not, say, ''Series/ThePriceIsRight'' or a soap opera.
* DidYouJustHaveSex: Amy's friend Carol immediately figures this out and starts peppering Amy with questions when an unusually cheerful Amy shows up for work.
* DisposableSexWorker: Serial killers like to target hookers, whether it be 1893 London or 1979 San Francisco.
* DrivesLikeCrazy: Wells, due to never having driven before.
* DutchAngle: Used when Wells gives up on trying to get the cops to believe him, and starts "confessing" to the murders.
* FishOutOfTemporalWater: Wells finds that the future isn't the utopia he'd thought. There are also many gags, like his utter terror the first time he rides in a car.
** Also, he has this exchange with Amy:
--> '''Wells:''' Much superior to that Scottish place where I breakfasted.
--> '''Amy:''' (Looks at him in confusion)
--> '''Wells:''' [[UsefulNotes/McDonalds MacDougals.]]
** Jack {{invert|edTrope}}s this. He [[LikeAFishTakesToWater blends into his new life splendidly]], as the quote at the top of this page illustrates.
* AFoggyDayInLondonTown: Coupled with OminousFog, as we see the mandatory foggy streets of London when Jack targets a prostitute in the opening scene.
* TheFutureIsShocking: The film has Creator/HGWells and UsefulNotes/JackTheRipper taken to modern times. Jack changes the channels on a TV to show constant scenes of violence to claim that he belongs here and Wells doesn't.
* GenreSavvy: Wells is savvy about a few things, such as:
** There is a distinct possibility that he may need to trade jewelry for money in the future.
** A museum exhibit of his desk may also have a perfect replica of his glasses.
** Oddly, he doesn't consider the possibility that his currency might be worth more to a collector, even when the guy at the bank suggests it.
* GetItOverWith: Stevenson, having seen that Wells has the infinity key, and knowing that he is now screwed, merely nods to Wells, who yanks it out.
* GoodIsDumb: Wells, during [[spoiler: the HostageForMacGuffin scene.]]
* GoodIsOldFashioned: Stevenson considers Wells to be this.
* HostageForMacGuffin: Giving his word as a gentleman, Stevenson offers to trade Amy for the anti-return key Wells holds. [[ILied He naturally fails to deliver the hostage]], and [[DidYouActuallyBelieve chides Wells]] for [[GoodIsDumb not realizing that he is no gentleman]].
* TheIdealist: "The first man to raise a fist is the man who's run out of ideas."
** But then Wells finally caves in and buys a gun. Which goes badly for him.
* ImMrFuturePopCultureReference: Inverted and subverted; to blend in, Wells, adopts the name of a period fictional character he's sure will be forgotten ninety years later. Unfortunately, this fictional character happens to be Literature/SherlockHolmes.
** Also, despite still being famous in the future, being known by his initials allows him to blend in quite nicely with his real name Herbert Wells.
* ISOStandardUrbanGroceries: Well, of course the grocery bag that Wells is toting to Amy's apartment has a loaf of French bread sticking out.
* ItWillNeverCatchOn: Wells confidently asserts in 1893 that "within three generations the social utopia will have come to pass", predicting that war and violence and poverty will have been eliminated. Stevenson is skeptical of this even before he is exposed as the Ripper, and Wells for his part is quite disappointed when he sees what modern society in 1979 is actually like.
* LikeAFishTakesToWater: Unlike Wells, Stevenson has no problem blending in with 1979, adopting contemporary dress, hunting for victims in discos.
* LoveAtFirstSight: Amy has this for Wells.
* MyCarHatesMe: Amy's car has a flat as they are racing to stop the murder of a prostitute, which they know about from traveling three days into the future.
* NerdsAreSexy: Creator/HGWells, at least as perceived by Amy
* POVShot: A fuzzy one from Wells' perspective after Stevenson yanks his glasses off.
* ProtectorBehindBars: A variation. The hero is caught by the police with him being suspected of Jack the Ripper's latest murder spree. He begs them to send someone to protect his girlfriend.
* RedLightDistrict: Whether it be Whitechapel in 1893 or the Tenderloin of San Francisco in 1979, the Ripper knows where to go to find victims.
* ShoutOut: Wells marvels at the wonders of technology, saying "[[Theatre/TheTempest O brave new world, that has such people in it!]]"
* SmartPeoplePlayChess: Wells and his friend John Stevenson, establishing that Stevenson is an intellectual as well.
* SoundtrackDissonance: The lighthearted music box tune during the murder in the opening scene.
* StealthPun: Herbert misremembers the name of that "Scottish restaurant" as [[UsefulNotes/McDonalds MacDougals.]]. No doubt that the audience was waiting for him to make a total dork of himself. But it would have made him seem too odd to Amy too early in the film. Especially when she was already willing to overlook the fact that he didn't pick up immediately on [[UsefulNotes/VietnamWar which war]] an American girl of her generation would have been protesting, something that's common knowledge in 1979.
* SteamPunk: Quite the snazzy time machine that Wells constructed in 1893.
* TakingTheHeat: When the cops [[PoliceAreUseless refuse to listen]] to Wells's Jack-the-Ripper story, he gets so desperate that he confesses to the killings in an attempt to get them to check Amy's apartment and make sure she's safe.
* TerminatorTwosome: When Wells realizes that Stevenson has gone to the future in his machine, Wells goes after him.
* TimeTravelRomance: Between Amy and Wells. And in the ending, Wells takes Amy back with him to become the historical [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._G._Wells#Personal_life Amy Catherine Robbins]].
* VictoriasSecretCompartment: Where the hooker that Jack picks up in the first scene puts his coin, right before he kills her.
* VillainsBlendInBetter: Provides the above quote -- Creator/HGWells struggles to fit in (although to be fair to him, in practical terms he adapts a lot better than most; it's mainly culture shock over the idea that the future isn't everything he'd built it up to be), while ''UsefulNotes/JackTheRipper'' of all people acclimatises comfortably.
* VillainForgotToLevelGrind[=/=]DegradedBoss: UsefulNotes/JackTheRipper, as the quote at the top of this page illustrates.

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