One hundred years ago, Jack the Ripper slashed his way through London's red light district. Now, a modern-day maniac is honoring the event by mutilating L.A.'s ladies of the evening. Has Jack the Ripper been reborn? The police are stumped and the prostitutes of L.A. are scared. The only person with a chance of solving the murders has a problem of his own – he's the LAPD's number one suspect.
In the film, JACK'S BACK, in California, someone is replicating the series of murders committed by the Serial Killer known as "Jack the Ripper" in London England, 100 years ago to the day. The victims all prostitutes, and up until now, all of the bodies, mutilated, except for the last. It has put the Police force on edge, and as such, the Chief is bringing all of the branches together for the investigation. In the midst of everything, elsewhere is a young doctor in John Wesford, who is still going through med school. John Wesford, is an equal opportunist who is very charitable, and because of that, his generosity has recently got him in hot water with his higher ups. when he agreed to cater to an abortion for an old friend(with whom he has a past), who is now a junkie and a prostitute. He promised to have the procedure performed for free, however, she is soon turned away, John follows up with the friend later that night, only to find that she too, has been brutally murdered. Only instead of the killer disappearing, he believes that he has caught of of his co-workers with a red hand. This leads to a chase, and unfortunately, the death of John Wesford. As it was a death by hanging, the Police believe it is a suicide, presumably as a result of his guilt, as they believe it is he, who is responsible for the murders. However, there is someone who seems to know otherwise - John's twin brother, Rick. Rick comes to the Police with visions he had in a dream. Visions of his brother being hanged by his killer. He is fairly sure about who committed the act, and is determined to find him, however, the Police focus in on Rick, who has a storied past, as a suspect. As Rick's memories of the dream aid him further along in his investigation, the Police believe that they are closer to Pinning Rick for the crime. But little do they know that everything is much different than it seems.
JACK'S BACK is a 1988 film that I have a rather funny remembrance of, but not because of the film itself. It's because somehow, years ago, I came into possession of a recorded VHS tape, containing this film and either another, or more on it. On this tape was JACK'S BACK. which had been dubbed from a TV broadcast. I have no idea how I originally came to own said tape, but I do remember that the video quality was not the greatest, and so, I do not believe that I ever finished the film in it's entirety. In fact, I barely remembered the film at all, prior to seeing it here, via this release. But with that said, I am glad to have finally properly seen this film, thanks to SCREAM FACTORY.
The story for JACK'S BACK sprang into Writer/Director Rowdy Herrington's(ROAD HOUSE) mind after hearing the true story of a set of twins - one of them was a Doctor, while the other was on Death Row. They were polar opposites. Here, he takes the facts about those 2 people, and creates characters who have those lives. John Wesford is a kind, and caring Doctor, while his twin brother, Rick has been in gangs and in trouble with the law. Herrington makes things rather interesting however, when he drops these characters into a scenario, which sees someone recreating the infamous crimes of "Jack the Ripper", 100 years after they occurred. When the victims turn up dead, baring the marks of medical precision, the Police set their sights on otherwise good guy, John. But to their surprise, John ends up dead himself, as the result of apparent suicide. However, when his twin brother, Rick shows up on the scene, it is his allegations that blow the otherwise closed case, wide open. Rick knows that his brother was murdered, as he saw it in a dream, but the Police think differently. Could have Rick simply killed his brother to cover up the crimes that he had committed himself? That is what the Police are firm in believing. However, meanwhile, Rick believes that he is on to the real killer. The story is a journey which takes its characters to unexpected places. As Rick narrows down his search for the killer, the film takes a nice turn near the end, to come to a conclusion that is rather pleasing overall, yet it really isn't as shocking a revelation as the probably hoped it would be. But still, the film is fun to watch unfold.
Shot in just 25 days on a low budget, JACK'S BACK is a film that is of course not at all glossy, it's a little rough around the edges, but simultaneously it is that quality, that is part of its charm. In addition to everything, it's grittiness truly adds to the material at hand. These are a series of grisly murders being committed, and the pursuit for the assailant, both mysterious and intense, and so the low budget look and feel only emphases things even further. As I said, although I had that tape years ago, I had never seen the movie from beginning to end, so I really didn't know what to expect. But I have to say that I pretty much enjoyed what I got here. In the midsts of its low budgeted grit, there is just a slight tinge of B-Movie in there. Sure, while it is for the most part, somewhat serious in tone, JACK'S BACK, does have moments where things feel slightly exaggerated, yet to me, that only makes it all the more enjoyable. As mentioned above, the twist at the end is not a real shocker, really, but at the very least, I enjoyed getting there. The acting was all, pretty solid.
And speaking on the acting, in all truth, it is James Spader who runs this show. In daul roles as twins, John and Rick Wesford, he had the task of having to make 2 distinct personalities believable. John is more straight-laced and kind, while his brother, Rick is more street-wise and tough. Personally, I feel that he genuinely pulled it off. I have been a fan of Spader in movies for awhile now, so it was no real surprise to me. but in JACK'S BACK his wide range is on full display as he becomes both characters. A great job. Also worth commenting on, is the supporting job by Cynthia Gibb, as she portrays "Chris Moscari", first a co-worker of John and then later, someone that Rick must protect from the elusive killer.
So to sum up JACK'S BACK, no, it's not a perfect movie. Neither its story nor script are without flaws(I mean, just why exactly was the killer copycatting "Jack the Ripper" in the first place? And why is it at the end, they decide to potentially break the pattern?), but as a low budget mystery thriller, it is still some fun to take in, especially on account of James Spader's great dual performance.
For this release, SCREAM! FACTORY has fully restored the film's picture and sound, and for what it is, it both looks and sounds great. Not much has been added by way of bonus content for the release, but there is a newly produced "Making of" featurette(23m 51s), featuring interviews with Writer/Director, Rowdy Herrington, Producer Tim Moore, Actress Cynthia Gibb And Director Of Photography Shelly Johnson, which has been included.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
As mentioned, while JACK'S BACK isn't some great murder mystery/Police procedural film, but it is at least fun to see, in a "late 80s" sort of way. While none of the characters here, truly stabdout on their own, as being particularly memorable, James Spader's performance indeed does. It is worth seeing the film on that alone.
Special Features include :
- NEW High-Definition Transfer From The Original Negative
- NEW Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Rowdy Herrington
- NEW The Making Of JACK'S BACK - Interviews With Writer/Director Rowdy Herrington, Producer Tim Moore, Actress Cynthia Gibb And Director Of Photography Shelly Johnson
- Theatrical Trailer
This film will be released on Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack on January 26, 2016