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Film / Knife for the Ladies

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Knife for the Ladies (a.k.a. Jack the Ripper Goes West and Silent Sentence) is a 1974 western/slasher film, starring Jack Elam and Jeff Cooper.

A mutilating knife-wielding killer haunts the small Southwest desert town of Mescal. Though most victims have been prostitutes, the first was Travis Mescal, the only son of the town's first family. When the Sheriff proves unable to solve the case, the town leaders invite Investigator Burns to unravel the mystery. Along the way, he confronts tension with the Sheriff, trouble with some citizens, and finally a killer whose motive we've heard before in Ripper-lore.

Knife for the Ladies contains examples of:

  • '70s Hair: Jeff Cooper's shoulder-length surfer boy perm is especially distracting in a movie supposedly set in the 1880s.
  • Artistic License – Music: At one point, Seth is playing the violin without doing any fingering at all.
  • Attempted Rape: Elizabeth throws Jen to her degenerate son Travis to rape; hoping this will result in an heir for the Mescal family. Jen manages to escape and her screams summon Jarrod and Burns, who deal with the threat permanently.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: Jarrod smashes a stool over Burns' head during their brawl in the jailhouse.
  • Death Faked for You: Elizabeth and Orville fake Travis' death and stage a fake funeral for him, allowing Elizabeth to secrete him away in the Mescal mansion.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: All of the Ripper's victims are prostitutes. Many of the 'respectable' citizens of Mescal aren't too concerned about the deaths of the whores, but they agree that the murders are bad for business.
  • Grave Robbing: Burns and Jarrod (illegally) break into Travis' tomb to see if his corpse is actually there. They choose to do this at night just as a storm breaks.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Jen smashes a bottle over Travis' head when she escapes from the Attempted Rape. It stuns him for a second, but he is after her almost immediately.
  • Hand of Death: The Ripper is only seen as a pair of boots and a hand holding a knife until their true identity is revealed.
  • Hook Hand: One of the townsfolk who joins Jarrod's posse to hunt down Ramon has a hook for a hand. This is never commented upon. There may be some Fridge Brilliance in this as Mescal is a copper mining town where mining accidents, and therefore missing limbs, would not be uncommon.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: Elizabeth is keeping her syphilis-ridden son Travis imprisoned in a secret room in the mansion.
  • Posse: Jarrod organises a posse to go after Ramon. However, Hooker and his men get there first.
  • Psycho Knife Nut: The Ripper's weapon of choice is a large hooked knife.
  • Railing Kill: During the climax, Elizabeth and Travis are struggling for the knife on the stairs. Jarrod shoots Elizabeth and the pair of them crash through the stair railing and onto the floor, where Travis is accidentally impaled on Elizabeth's knife.
  • Really Gets Around: Travis Mescal is intimately acquainted with every Soiled Dove in Mescal, and apparently many of the respectable women as well, using his wealth and social position to coerce them into bed.
  • Serial Killer: The Ripper is a serial killer picking off the prostitutes of Mescal.
  • The Sheriff: Jarrod has been the sheriff of Mescal for many years.
  • Slashed Throat: How all of the Ripper's victims (except Orville) are killed.
  • *Twang* Hello: When Burns goes to search Nina's shack, Jarrod announces his presence by throwing a knife into the wall beside Burns' head.
  • Undertaker: Orville is the town's undertaker (and barber). He has a very morbid (and mercenary) attitude toward life.


Now make your old man proud.

...that wasn't it.

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