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Film / Ripper: Letter from Hell

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Ripper: Letter from Hell (a.k.a. Ripper) is a 2001 Canadian-British horror film, directed by John Eyres. The film stars A.J. Cook, Bruce Payne, Emmanuelle Vaugier, and Jürgen Prochnow. It was written and produced by John A. Curtis and Evan Tylor and by production companies Prophecy Entertainment and Studio Eight Productions.

A woman finds herself reliving a terrifying moment from her past — only to discover her tormentor's past goes back much further in this horror story. Molly is a college student who, after escaping uninjured from the clutches of a serial killer who claimed the lives of several of her friends, has devoted herself to the study of the murderous mind as a criminology major. While doing research for a class project, she makes the terrifying discovery that the madman who killed her friends is back on the loose — and that his methods and actions bear a striking resemblance to that of Jack the Ripper, the bloodthirsty killer who terrorized London over a century ago.

The film was followed by a 2004 sequel entitled Ripper 2: Letter from Within.

Includes examples of:

  • Conveyor Belt o' Doom: Chantel and Aaron fall on to the conveyor belt in the sawmill which drags them towards the whirling saws.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: The killer leaves a messaged scrawled in blood at the scene of Marissa's murder. The M.O. is later repeated at the murder of Andrea.
  • Cut Phone Lines: Professor Kane picks up the phone at his cabin only to discover the line is dead: the killer having sabotaged the dish.
  • Evil Elevator: When Marissa tries to leave A Party, Also Known as an Orgy, the rickety freight elevator takes her up instead of down, and strands her on the 13th floor. Where the killer is waiting for her.
  • Fingore: The killer starts the jeep engine while Eddie is trying to fix it, causing his hand to get ground up by the fan.
  • Hanging by the Fingers: Happens twice to Mary-Anne in quick succession. When her car is teetering on the edge of the cliff, the killer rams it with his truck; smashing her out through the windscreen. She is left clinging to the grille, dangling over the edge of the cliff. When the killer rams the car again, she loses her grip and falls. She manages to grab a handhold and is left clinging to the rock face.
  • Inspector Javert: Detective Kelso is still obsessing over and hunting the Serial Killer Molly escaped from 5 years earlier.
  • Jack the Ripoff: The killer is recreating the murders of Jack the Ripper.
  • Lumber Mill Mayhem: The killer chases Chantel into a sawmill and then activates the saws: forcing her to try to escape through a deadly environment.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Marissa has anonymous sex with a stranger in the bathroom of the costume party.
  • My Car Hates Me: The jeep carrying Jason, Eddie and Chantel breaks down halfway up the mountain to fix the satellite; at night, during a storm, with a Serial Killer on the loose. Possibly the result of Vehicular Sabotage.
  • Mythology Gag: The yacht Molly uses to escape from the island during the prologue is named the Mary Kelly: the same name as one of Jack the Ripper's victims.
  • Napoleon Delusion: The study group theorizes that the killer may actually believe that he or she is Jack the Ripper. The end of the film indicates this is probably true with Molly in the asylum imagining that she is in 1888 London, and her voiceover referring to herself as Jack.
  • Off with Her Head!: Chantel is decapitated by a buzzsaw during the Lumber Mill Mayhem.
  • A Party, Also Known as an Orgy: Following the first meeting of the study group, the students attend a sexually charged costume party in an abandoned warehouse. There are are plenty of Sexy Whatever Outfits and bumping and grinding. Marissa has anonymous sex with a stranger in the bathroom, and then gets murdered.
  • The Profiler: Professor Kane used to a profiler with the FBI. After a near-fatal encounter with a Serial Killer, he quit and dropped out of sight. He wrote a best-selling book on serial killers before becoming a lecturer in criminology.
  • Rain of Blood: When the killer butchers Marissa, her blood drips down through a hole in the ceiling on to a white clad party goer who is dancing below, and who does not notice until she is almost drenched in blood.
  • Rustproof Blood: The killer writes a message on the wall in Marissa's blood at the scene of her murder. When Molly visits the crime scene a day later, the letters are still bright red.
  • Saw Blades of Death: The killer chases Chantel into a sawmill and then activates the saws: forcing her to try to escape through a deadly environment.
  • Scar Survey: Molly conducts one on Kane before they have sex; studying the deep scars the Serial Killer had left on his back.
  • Sex Signals Death: Marissa has anonymous sex with a masked stranger at a party, and then becomes the Ripper's first victim as she tries to leave.
  • Shown Their Work: The film includes a lot of details of Ripper-lore not included in other popular works. In particular, it acknowledges that Martha Tabram, although not one of the 'Canonical Five', might have been the Ripper's first victim.
  • Sole Survivor: Molly was the sole survivor of a Serial Killer who killed all of her friends while they were on a camping trip on an island. The killer was never caught. Five years later, history starts to repeat itself.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Molly and Professor Kane have sex after bonding over their shared experience of both having escaped from Serial Killers. It is later revealed that Professor Kane was the one who had sex with Marissa at the party before she was murdered.
  • Theme Serial Killer: The Ripper is picking off victims with the same initials as the victim of Jack the Ripper, and recreating the wounds Saucy Jack left on his victims.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Many of the scenes shown through Molly's POV are suspect as her sanity is slowly slipping as the film progresses. For example, late in the movie, she sees her younger self guiding her through the forest. By the end of the film she is completely insane and confined to an asylum, where she sees the world around her as 1888 London.
  • Title Drop: Jason explains that the jumbled words the killer left behind at the scene of Marissa's murder is the text of Jack the Ripper's so-called 'From Hell' letter.
  • Vehicular Assault: The killer uses a pickup truck to ram Mary-Anne's car off the road and almost over a cliff.
  • White Mask of Doom: The man who silently has sex with Marissa at the party is wearing a plain white mask.