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The Classic Horror Collection
casts: [see below]

directors: Peter Sasdy, Denis Heroux

256 minutes (15) 1971, 1975, 1977
widescreen ratio 16:9
Carlton DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Denise Wayne
Peter Sasdy's Hands Of The Ripper (1971) opens with a grisly scene witnessed by a young girl before settling down a bit into a drama of sociopathic tendencies and perverse sensuality. Dr John Pritchard (Eric Porter) is the headshrinker who tries to save beautiful yet disturbed Anna (Angharad Rees), the daughter of Jack the Ripper, from her own murderous inclinations. Derek Godfrey and Dora Bryan provide strong support in this strange but compelling thriller about the inherited curse of homicidal mania, and the climax in St Paul's cathedral is suitably tense.
   Sasdy also directed The Monster (aka: I Don't Want To Be Born; or The Devil Within Her, 1975). In modern day London, Joan Collins plays a stripper called Lucy who rejects the advances of sex club dwarf Hercules (George Claydon). Lucy's baby appears to possess a frightening hypnotic power that leads to the death of her husband Gino (Ralph Bates), and Dr Finch (Donald Pleasance) is next on the hit list. Italian nun Sister Albana (Eileen Atkins) is the duty exorcist. Caroline Munro has a minor role, as Lucy's kindly but unhelpful friend, Mandy. While not exactly the derivative atrocity for which some critics have attacked it, even as a crude mix of Polanski's classic Rosemary's Baby (1968) and Larry Cohen's cult It's Alive (1973), The Monster is nonetheless an unfortunately dismal failure on almost every level, except unintentional black farce - although I think the offbeat score by Ron Grainer is weirdly atmospheric.
   Denis Heroux's part Canadian production, The Uncanny (1977), sees aged publisher Frank (Ray Milland) bemused by a visit from the eccentric conspiracy theorist Wilbur (Peter Cushing), who offers up his manuscript about a frankly unbelievable fantasy concerning a feline scheme to conquer the world! This is the setup that accounts for the film's anthology content. In Victorian London, Janet (Susan Penhaligon) and her lover Michael (Simon Williams) plot against wealthy invalid animal lover Aunt Malkin (Joan Greenwood), to get the fortune that she's willed to her pets, but the house cats' claws are far sharper than the wits of their human enemies. The middle episode has orphaned Angela (Chloe Franks, from The House That Dripped Blood) and her black cat, sent to live with a doting aunt and uncle (Alexandra Stewart and Donald Pilon), only to find that young Angela's jealous cousin Lucy (Katrina Holden) is a serious problem child. Angie's cat helps out with a magic spell, and Lucy finds herself shrunk to mouse size for the visual effects' chase sequence. The last story centres on a Hollywood studio's off screen romance between Valentine and Edina (Donald Pleasance and Samantha Eggar, reunited on screen 14 years after Dr Crippen, 1963) who finally get cornered like rats after they commit a murder. John Vernon is among the supporting cast here.
   So, full marks for Sasdy's ripping yarn, but the directors ought to have known better than to work on horror pictures with cot tots or animals.

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