JUNE 7, 2009
GENRE: SERIAL KILLER
SOURCE: THEATRICAL (REVIVAL SCREENING)
Filmmakers/actors often take shots at their own films when they play at the New Beverly (be it a joke at the expense of their own performance, the box office, or in some cases, the work of others on the film), but Clu Gulager is a notable exception. Whenever he speaks about one of his films before it screens, he will praise the other actors, the director, and refer to the film as “wonderful” or something similar. But even he didn’t have much to say about Terror At London Bridge (aka Bridge Across Time); he praised his co-stars, but merely referred to the film itself as “interesting...” or something like that.
Well, it’s certainly an interesting concept for a movie. Jack the Ripper is somehow brought 100 years forward in time and begins stalking women on the harsh, cold streets of... Lake Havasu, Arizona. Well, OK, I’ll give them points for originality. Jack is often brought back in NY or LA or whatever, and that gets old. I’ll take a small lakeside town over the umpteenth metropolis.
Unfortunately, the details about it are all wrong, and worse, fairly stupid. If it’s the real Jack, why does he copy his own murders, right down to the date? Wouldn’t he be like “oh, now I can do something different!”. Nope, he even waits around for weeks doing nothing (besides hit on Adrienne Barbeau) until the next “original murder” date comes along. So Jack the Ripper has OCD, then. Also, he comes back to life via a magic rock. It seems London Bridge has been dismantled and rebuilt in Lake Havasu (I actually thought this was the most ridiculous part of the movie until I found out that its true), but they were missing one rock. When the rock is returned and put in place, Jack is reborn. Luckily for him, it happened at the same time of the year as his original murder spree (August/September). If the rock had been found/replaced in like, March, he’d have to get a parttime job or something just to keep busy until he could start killing.
This also means that the movie is painfully low on a body count. There are only three murders, with lead cop David Hasselhoff trying to prevent the fourth. But since the movie is 96 minutes long (TV movie standard length), instead of stalking/killing, we just get endless scenes of the Hoff romancing a boat shop owner, Hoff arguing with his chief (Clu) and some town official in the Murray “You can’t close the beaches” Hamilton role, or a lab tech rambling about how weird the evidence is (“This blood seems to be a hundred years old!”). And Jack himself is equally dull; he only has a few lines and is almost never seen outside of the kill scenes. Plus his face is hidden at first, as if the movie was going to be a whodunit. There is some novelty to seeing him in his 19th century garb (hat, cape, etc) as he walks around a sunny beach area, but not nearly enough to make the movie entertaining as a whole.
Oh, and Hoff has a “tragic past” - he shot an “armed” suspect that turned out to be a kid with a can opener (note - in lieu of a trailer, which I couldn't find, I put this scene at the bottom of the review). Strangely, this movie predates Die Hard, so perhaps Steven E. de Souza caught this dullfest on TV, heard the shooting story, and thought “I bet I can use this in a GOOD movie, one people might actually like!” And viola, Al Powell has something besides a Twinkie addiction to make him so memorable. That, OR, it’s just a generic story that doesn’t hurt an otherwise solid movie but can make a lousy one look all the more uninteresting.
The inherent problem with any Jack the Ripper movie is that they never caught (or even identified) him in real life, which means that the film either will have no real climax, will make shit up like in From Hell, or, as in this case, will use time travel and other nonsense to distract you away from that problematic issue. And with a good script, it can work. But seriously though, a magic fucking rock?
What say you?
And now, Horror Movie A Day and Happy Hour Comics would like to present the newest in an ongoing series of HMAD-inspired comic strips. I hope you enjoy!! (Click to enlarge)