From Hell on DVD: Offering A Little More than Gore
Phil Davetas
12/15/2002 3:52:40 PM

What made Jack the Ripper interesting is the mythology-- we never knew who he was or why he did it. Jack the Ripper was the first serial killer in recorded human history and the one that got away with it. From Hell puts a fictitious spin on the Jack the Ripper legend while giving us all the Hollywood answers. More interesting than the movie itself are the accompanying documentaries that come with the 2-disk DVD package. 6 Degrees of Separation, one of the DVD’s docs brings about some interesting theories and suspects. The movie does explore some of the theories, however, they’re used more like an epic of red herrings, toying with the audience to a similar degree of Oliver Stone’s JFK. After all the Jack the Ripper theories are presented, it’s time to throw some old Hollywood supernatural kick in the mix to make sure everyone’s going to buy this. And of course, tie up all the loose ends and add a nice Hollywood happy ending.

The deleted scenes are removed for the very reasons you might suspect: bad filmmaking, pacing and the usual. There are no cuts from for daily cocktail of nudity, violence or sex. Word on the street is that the Hughes brothers understandably frowned upon having the deleted scenes included on the DVD. The alternate ending is also a waste of time--just another perspective for Johnny Depp’s final scene, with the setting moved to Shanghai for some fucked-for-all reason.

What’s great about Disk 2 is a little featurette on the short history of absinthe, an unexpected treasure. There is of course, an HBO behind-the-scenes documentary, but if you haven’t watched the movie, be careful—they give away too many hints on who the killer is and who’s gonna die before you get a chance to view the flick. Tour of the Murder Sites is a short and dopey featurette with the Hughes brothers skipping around the White Chapel district showing you where the chicks were slashed up. It’s a bit lame, but interesting to view the geography. Many times, in flicks you don’t know where one scene is, as opposed to another. It’s just cool to see where everything’s at and get your bearings. And of course, what DVD based on a popular graphic novel would be complete without mentioning the books in their own little featurette? All they do in that is talk about the changes they made and for what reasons?—standard double-disk stuff.

From Hell (Directors’ Limited Edition) (2 out of Four)
R, 2001, 121 min., Fox Home Video.

From Hell stars: Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Robbie Coltrane, Music by Trevor Jones, Produced by Don Murphy and Jane Hamsher, Based on the Graphic Novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, Written by Terry Hayes and Rafael Yglesias and Directed by Allen and Albert Hughes.

Disk One:

Commentary by Albert and Allen Hughes, Rafael Yglesias, Cinematographer Peter Deming and Robbie Coltrane, Alternate Ending and over 20 Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Albert Hughes.

Disk Two:

Jack the Ripper: 6 Degrees of Separation - An Interactive Investigation, A View From Hell – HBO Featurette Hosted by Heather Graham, Tour of the Murder Sites Hosted by the Hughes Brothers, Behind-the-Scenes Featurette Hosted by Production Designer Martin Childs, Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder Featurette, Graphic Novel-to-Film Comparison and the Original Theatrical Trailer.

Other Double Disk Packs:

Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings (also be aware of the LOTR’s five disk set), Titus, The Crow: Special Edition, Blade 2, Moulin Rouge, The Abyss: Special Edition, The Rock – The Criterion Edition, Die Hard: Special Edition, Die Hard 2: Special Edition, Die Hard With a Vengeance: Special Edition, Fight Club – Limited Collector’s Edition, Pearl Harbor – 60th Anniversary Commemorative Edition…


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