Friday, November 7, 2008

Assault! Jack the Ripper (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1976)

Assault! Jack the Ripper (1976), directed by Yasuharu Hasebe.

Assault! Jack the Ripper (1976) is about a man who works as a baker at a café. One day, one of the waitresses asks him to give her a ride home. He agrees, but on the way they pick up a hitchhiker who happens to be a suicidal maniac. When they kick her out on the road again they have an accident and the hitchhiker dies. Instead of going to the police they dump the body at an old junkyard. Afterwards, having arrived at the waitress' apartment, they realise that the accident, and the disposal of the body, has made them aroused and they have sex.

They keep on using murder as an aphrodisiac, killing just about every young woman they see, but the man seems less and less interested in his partner in crime and more so in his knife and victims. He starts killing the women by stabbing them in their genitals and soon enough he's "cheating" by killing on his own. It's pretty obvious where the film is going, but when the killer starts hiding his knife in the front of his pants, and a woman that he is cutting open starts enjoying it, it changes from being a pretty boring exploitation slasher into being just plain stupid.

I have no problem with the blood and gore, or the sex, but the film fails to entertain, I think that is usually the difference between good and bad exploitation. A film is never pointless as long as it entertains in some way, but when all it does is make you yawn and think "Why am I watching this?" it feels pretty pointless to me. It doesn't help though that I'm getting tired of the whole roman porno/pink/pinky violence craze that is going on. While there are some really well made and thought provoking films in this area, they seem to be the exceptions to the genre. Assault!.. feels like just another one of those films to be hyped up because of its rarity, and when it finally shows up, it fails to do anything but disappoint. It may have been extreme in the 1970s, but now, it feels as impotent as the main character seems to be without his knife.


I can add that I just finished watching Mondo Macabro's other recent Nikkatsu release, Noboru Tanaka's Watcher in the Attic (1976), based on stories by horror/mystery writer Edogawa Rampo. It's very different from Assault! Jack the Ripper, it's more of a drama about a rich man's wife, her lovers and the watcher from the title. It soons turns into a story about sexual perversions and murder, but compared to other Rampo adaptations like Teruo Ishii's Horror of Malformed Men (1969), Shinya Tsukamoto's Gemini (1999) and horror omnibus Rampo Noir (Akio Jissoji, Atsushi Kaneko, Hisayasu Sato, Suguru Takeuchi, 2005), Tanaka fails to inject the story with the kind of creepy atmosphere that the other films have. Watcher in the Attic has sex and murder, but it never turns into a mystery worth solving.