Another in a long line of half-tanked slasher pics catering to a jaded public, the blood-drenched RIPPER MAN reincarnates Jack the Ripper in modern-day California. Some effective scare scenes are outweighed by inappropriate campiness, rampant illogic, and an abundance of distractingly
Booted off the San Diego police force after his procedure-bending attempt to rescue a child hostage has cost two partners their lives, ex-cop Mike Lazo (Mike Norris) works as a third-rate nightclub mesmerist. Despite the cheery boosterism of bar girl Gina (Sofia Shinas) and his hypno-assistant,
Tony (Carey Scott), despondent Mike becomes the target of hecklers. One evening, Mike is rescued from a parking lot assault by Charles Walken (Timothy Bottoms), whose good Samaritan-ism masks a darker goal. Believing himself to be the reincarnation of Jack the Ripper, schizophrenic Charles hires
Mike to conduct hypno-regression sessions with him. Whether it's wishful thinking or a true transference of identity, Mike brings Charles' murderous nature to the surface.
Stalking a drug user down darkened streets, Charles lures the terrified woman onto a bus where he's already gutted the driver; she becomes the Ripper Man's latest conquest. Although sympathetic detective Greg Onchi (Bruce Locke) unofficially seeks ex-cop Mike's cooperation, Mike's ex-boss, Frankel
(Robert F. Lyons), slams the Jack the Ripper theory. Charles implicates Mike in his murder spree, hoping to distract Mike from solving the case. By threatening Mike's ex-wife and child are his next targets. Instead, he kills Tony and a lap dancer, kidnaps Gina, and murders Gina's roommate in full
view of Mike, who can't penetrate her apartment's security system in time to save her. Psychological records lead Mike to Charles' hideout at a closed mental institution. Although Charles stabs Mike in the back, Mike retrieves a gun from a cage of vicious hounds. Mike shoots Charles and rescues
Gina; before the cops arrive, Charles eviscerates himself.
Weak direction and cinematography aren't the worst faults of RIPPER MAN. The big problem is a plot-heavy screenplay that murkily toys with the notion of Jack the Ripper's reincarnation, stops cold for explanatory flashbacks of Mike's career catastrophe, and generally stretches credulity on too
many points. Within the confines of this cockamamie screenplay, director Phil Sears concocts a few nerve-jangling set pieces, as when Ripper Man leaps across rooftops in pursuit of a cokehead (whom he's cagily luring into a trap). Why, then, are other stalking scenes handled so perfunctorily?
Bottoms seems to be enjoying his fussy villainy more than the audience, while star Norris could be the '90s answer to Sonny Tufts. Overall, RIPPER MAN is a flawed but not altogether negligible replay of history's first celebrity serial killer at work and prey. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity,extensive nudity, substance abuse, sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: R
- Review: Another in a long line of half-tanked slasher pics catering to a jaded public, the blood-drenched RIPPER MAN reincarnates Jack the Ripper in modern-day California. Some effective scare scenes are outweighed by inappropriate campiness, rampant illogic, and… (more)