There have been countless movies and shows centered around well-known serial killers. Some are figments of the imagination, like Hannibal Lecter or The Candyman, but regardless, when it comes to scary serial killers on screen, they tend to draw in a crowd. One famous murderer that was never caught in real life was Jack the Ripper.
Jack the Ripper was a serial killer who terrorized the Whitechapel district of London in 1888. He evaded police despite his modus operandi of killing sex workers and performing ghastly mutilations. Over the years, this evil killer’s story has been adapted many times on the small and big screens. There have even been documentaries to try and uncover his true identity.
Updated on December 19, 2021 by Ben Hathaway: With the release of Showtime’s Dexter revival and the seemingly neverending interest in serial killers, there’s no better time to look back at films and TV series featuring arguably the world’s most famous killer: Jack the Ripper. Most Jack the Ripper movies and series are skippable or moderately entertaining, but there are some that leave a true impression despite working within well-worn material.
13 Jack The Ripper: The London Slasher (2016) – 5.2
Rent On Amazon Prime
This movie takes place right in the center of Jack the Ripper’s streak of murders in London. The Jack the Ripper film doesn’t just focus on the killer, but it also focuses around a young woman who makes the journey to London with big dreams to become a photographer. However, instead of the charming city of London, she finds chaos and murder.
What makes the movie an interesting watch is the main focus on the female character. She ventures on her own journey to try and uncover who the real killer is when her brother is falsely accused. This was a Jack the Ripper movie that went under the radar but still delves into the riveting tale of the serial killer.
12 Edge Of Sanity (1989) – 5.2
Rent On Vudu
As the star of one of the best serial killer movies of all time, Anthony Perkins had his own big shoes to fill in 1989’s Edge of Sanity. Unfortunately, in contrast to Psycho‘s perfection, Edge of Sanity is something of a mess.
It’s a combination of Jack the Ripper and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It’s an odd film with an even odder Perkins performance (frequently covered in odious makeup). He’s playing Dr. Jekyll, but it’s a Dr. Jekyll obsessed with cocaine. He spends half the movie freebasing and the other half murdering sex workers. It’s all very unsettling and the film was considered Brian De Palma-lite at best.
11 The Lodger (2009) – 5.7
Rent On Apple TV
The Lodger introduces audiences to two parallel stories. This movie isn’t about Jack the Ripper himself, but a copycat. It takes place in modern Hollywood and all starts with the brutal killing of a sex worker on Sunset Boulevard.
The detective on the case soon realizes that the killer is using the same modus operandi of Jack the Ripper. On the flip side, a married woman takes in a lodger at their guest house. But the movie has an unforeseen plotline, and the married woman falls for the lodger and suspects him, but would do anything to keep his innocence. This movie has a twist ending that no one will see coming.
10 Jack’s Back (1988) – 5.9
Stream On Crackle, The Roku Channel, IMDb TV, Hoopla, & Tubi
Actor James Spader has played many roles, from voicing Ultron in the MCU to being a main character in The Blacklist but in 1988, he took part in a crime/thriller based around Jack the Ripper. Jack’s Back is another movie that doesn’t include Jack the Ripper, the person, but his methods of murder.
A doctor in Los Angeles is accused of copycat killings similar to Jack the Ripper. The prime suspect ends up dead himself, leaving police to try and find the real culprit. In a turn of events, the doctor’s twin brother claims to have visions of the real killer. The movie itself didn’t do so well with critics and got a fairly low score.
9 Man In The Attic (1953) – 6.2
Stream On Amazon Prime, Paramount+, Tubi, & Epix
The late and legendary Jack Palance starred in yet another remake of The Lodger, titled simply: Man in the Attic. While it may not be one of the best serial killer movies, the actor is always a more than welcome presence.
Palance plays a soft-spoken, ultra-secretive pathologist who rents an attic apartment in the middle of London. After doing so, he finds himself falling for the landlady’s daughter, yet she rejects his advances. Then, the bodies of young women start appearing on the streets, and the police have no idea who it could be.
8 Time After Time (2017) – 6.7
Not Available To Stream
Much like other television shows, Time After Time was first a novel and then a movie in 1979. The show combines a bit of every genre, from period drama and crime/thriller to science fiction. Sadly, it only made it through one season before being canceled for low ratings.
Time After Time’s storyline is unique when it comes to the subject of Jack the Ripper. It first takes place in 1893 with famed writer, H.G. Wells (Freddie Stroma). At a dinner party, Wells reveals his time machine and at the same time, police go to arrest Jack the Ripper, who flees using Wells’ machine. Wells goes on the hunt to modern Manhattan to bring him to justice and stop any new murders.
7 From Hell (2001) – 6.8
Stream On The Criterion Channel
The hunt is afoot in the movie From Hell. The 2001 movie starred Johnny Depp in the leading role of Inspector Fred Abberline. Loosley based on the graphic novel of the same name, the film follows the story of Jack the Ripper.
Inspector Abberline is determined to catch the Ripper before he wreaks more havoc and chaos in London. But the story has certain details that make it intriguing like how Abberline is aided by visions he has while high on opium. Intermixed is the Ripper’s possible next victim, who’s a love interest of Abberline. The movie features intense gore in its fervent attacks and stands as one of the most mainstream films about Jack the Ripper.
6 Murder By Decree (1979) – 6.9
Stream On Redbox
Bob Clark (Black Christmas, A Christmas Story) directed Christopher Plummer in one of his best heroic roles as legendary detective Sherlock Holmes.
The film followed Holmes and his trusty sidekick, Dr. Watson (the great James Mason) as they searched the streets of London for Jack the Ripper. With a stacked cast that included Donald Sutherland and Genevieve Bujold, it’s surprising that the film isn’t held in any higher regard by viewers than it currently is.
5 The Lodger: A Story Of The London Fog (1927) – 7.3
Stream On HBO Max, Classix, & The Criterion Channel
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog uses the story of Jack the Ripper without ever saying who he is. At the beginning of the movie, the killer is known as “The Avenger” and the story has an eerie similarity to the 2009 movie, The Lodger.
A young blonde model returns home after hearing of the recent killings and that same night, a new secretive guest rents a room at her family’s lodging house. She and the lodger start to build an attraction, much to the distaste of her policeman sweetheart. As the killings continue, the family starts to suspect their new guest and bizarre circumstances occur surrounding whether or not he’s innocent of the crimes.
4 Black Butler (2008-2014) – 7.8
Stream On Netflix & Hulu
Black Butler only has small inclinations towards a Jack the Ripper storyline. The story is very complex and was only seen for a short while in the manga-inspired show. It centers around a 12-year-old boy who sells his soul to the devil to avenge his family’s death.
The main character becomes a Watchdog and is sent by the Queen to uncover the true identity of Jack the Ripper. The story follows a similar path as the real-life Jack the Ripper. He kills sex workers in London and removes their reproductive organs. This aspect of the show changes the story in that Jack the Ripper isn’t really the mastermind behind the murders.
3 Jack The Ripper (1988) – 7.6
Not Available To Stream
Before Michael Caine portrayed one of the most beloved Alfreds in Batman movies and a pageant coach in Miss Congeniality, he starred in this mini-series. In 1988, he played the lead role of Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline, the head detective on the Jack the Ripper murders.
The miniseries solely focuses on the Ripper’s killing spree throughout London. Abberline is on a tightrope as he must find the killer and bring him to justice. He has a long list of suspects to tackle while the authorities fear a rising revolution in London’s East End.
2 Whitechapel (2009-2013) – 7.9
Stream On Hulu, Amazon Prime & HBO Max
Whitechapel was a beloved British crime show that centered around a group of detectives solving cases in London’s Whitechapel area. Much like other versions of the Jack the Ripper story, the show focused on the hunt for a copycat killer.
Besides the bloodthirsty killer and the unearthing of secrets from the past, it also focused on the charismatic relationship between the three main detectives. Fans adored the show’s ability to connect elements of the past and present to solve murder cases in Whitechapel, along with the dynamics of the main actors.
1 Ripper Street (2012-2016) – 8.1
Stream On Hoopla
Ripper Street is a crime drama show that is worth a binge-watch. The British show used Jack the Ripper as a premise to the main storyline. However, the show takes place months after the Ripper’s last murder in 1888 when a now seemingly calm London once again faces a gruesome murder.
Detective Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) is haunted by his past with Jack the Ripper that led to tragedy. When trying to maintain order in Whitechapel, Reid and his confidants find themselves sucked into the dark criminal reality of Victorian London, all while trying to reign in the fear of the possibility of the Ripper’s return.
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