• Assault! Jack The Ripper (Mondo Macabro) DVD Review

    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: October 28th, 2008.
    Director: Yasuharu Hasebe
    Cast: Yoko Azusa, Yutaka Hayashi, Tamaki Katsura, Midori Mori, Rei Okamoto
    Year: 1976
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    Assault! Jack The Ripper – Movie Review:

    A popular title on the grey market for years (the R2 release from Geneon, which had no English subtitles, has been fab-subbed and distributed through various mean for a while now and had been the best way to see the film), Mondo Macabro steps up to the bat and gives fans reason to get rid of those bootlegs once and for all with their legitimate release of director Yasuharu Hasebe’s infamous Assault! Jack The Ripper. While not the most sensational of the Hasebe films that have been made available, it’s definitely one of the best and it’s nice to see so much tender love and care put into this twisted little gem from the Land Of The Rising Sun.

    The film follows a pair of skuzzy restaurant workers, he a chef and she a waitress, who screw up and kill a hitchhiker one night only to find out that they seriously enjoy killing – in fact, they get off on it in a big way! Once the pair figures out that they like it as much as they do, they set out for more of it and go about kidnapping and murdering pretty young women (their modus operandi appears to be vaginal stabbing – some not so subtle phallic symbolism!). This happy and mutually dysfunctional relationship soon starts to crumble though, as the chef decides he no longer needs his female partner and opts to go off on a killing spree of his own.

    Filled with all of the rape, misogyny and gratuitous sex you’d expect from the glory days of the Nikkatsu sex and violence films, Assault! Jack The Ripper is a wonderfully mean spirited slasher that borrows a little bit from the Italian Giallo cycle but not without putting its own unique cultural spin on the stalk and slash formula. There are definitely plenty of bloodier and nastier films from the same genre out there in terms of what is shown on screen, but there’s an air of degradation and nastiness to this picture that sets it apart a bit.

    Yasuharu Hasebe, who served as Seijin Suzuki’s assistant before branching out on his own and giving us classics like the psychedelic pop slice Black Tight Killers and the nasty Rape! The 13th Hour, keeps the action moving quickly. The film is shot with plenty of style and there’s a certain slickness to the cinematography and lighting that is well complimented by a fantastic and incredibly quirky sounding jazz score. Those searching for the most extreme examples of the genre may be let down, as most of the violence is more inferred then graphically portrayed, but there’s a genuinely unsettling atmosphere here that really helps this tale of two losers brought together by their love of sexual violence only to be torn apart by what brought them together in the first place. Not a film for all tastes, but definitely worth a watch for fans of the genre or anyone who can appreciate well-made exploitation.

    Assault! Jack The Ripper – DVD Review:

    Mondo Macabro presents Assault! Jack The Ripper in a lovely 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen progressive scan transfer that’s ever so slightly window boxed on the left and right hand side of the frame. Colors look nice and natural while black levels stay consistently deep. There’s a coat of grain noticeable in some spots but that’s a good thing, really. There’s very little to complain about in terms of print damage, edge enhancement or mpeg compression artifacts. A couple of shots look a little on the soft side but it’s more than likely that the movie was shot with that ‘look’ in mind. Really, there’s very little to complain about here. The picture looks quite good for a DVD from this era.

    The Japanese language Dolby Digital Mono comes complete with optional English subtitles sounds just fine. Dialogue is clean and clear and the levels are all well balanced. Being an older mono mix this isn’t a track that has a ton of range but considering the limitations of the original source material, really, it sounds quite good. There are no problems with hiss or distortion and everything sounds nice and crisp.

    First up is an excellent documentary, The Erotic Empire (23:50, anamorphic widescreen, interlaced), that begins with some footage of the 2001 Roman Porno festival in Japan where attendees give their thoughts on some of the films screened. Jasper Sharp talks about the history of Nikkatsu while Seijin Suzuki talks about the two different kinds of films that the studio specialized in and why. Japanese film critic Toshiyuki Matsushima explains who ‘porno’ became introduced into the studio’s vocabulary while artist and filmmaker Romaine Slocombe gives his thoughts on the genre. Actress Kozuko Shirakawa talks about how she didn’t want her parents to find out she was working at Nikkatsu and about working on some of the roman porno movies that she appeared in and some of the director’s that she worked with, Tanaka in particular. The influence of Edogawa Rampo’s writings is covered as is the odd take on sexuality often on display in these films. Plenty of archival clips from various genre entries appear alongside a great selection of poster art to give this documentary plenty of visual flair. Interesting stuff!

    From there, check out the interview with Jasper Sharp (8:28, anamorphic widescreen, interlaced) where the author of Fab Press’ Behind The Pink Curtain discusses Assault! Jack The Ripper in a fair bit of detail. Sharp provides some cultural context for the film and explains some of the more controversial aspects of it in addition to providing some welcome biographical information on its cast and crew.

    If that weren’t enough, there’s a killer selection Nikkatsu trailers (here’s hoping these are future Mondo Macabro releases and not just cock teases!!) for the following films: The Watcher In The Attic (also out on Oct. 28, 2008 from Mondo Macabro), Naked Rashomon, The Sins Of Sister Lucia (hooray for Japanese nunsploitation!), and Female Prisoner: Caged! The trailer for the feature itself is also included. All of the trailers are in anamorphic widescreen and flagged for progressive, but sadly, there are no subtitles for any of them.

    Rounding out the extras? An essay on the film and another on Nikkatsu Studios from Pete Tombs, animated menus, chapter selection, and the ever expanding Mondo Macabro promo reel.

    Assault! Jack The Ripper - The Final Word:

    A fantastic release through and through, Mondo Macabro gives a Nikkatsu trash classic a kick ass North American debut with solid audio and video quality and their usual delicious array of extra features.