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Test Screening review of FROM HELL... fittingly enough from Las Vegas!

Hey folks, Harry here... well strange enough I kind of knew this test screening was coming... it was something I picked up from someone I talked to during SXSW that made me think something was going on with FROM HELL... I've heard that the print has been locked, but since they are testing it... well... the studio can always change locks... But it seems the Hughes Brothers have tooled a fine film so we should have no real worries about that. BTW... If you are Hughes Brothers fans, you must check out their AMERICAN PIMP as well as a new documentary that they produced called SCRATCH! The Gonzo Filmmaker does not deal in spoilers, but if you saw the film last night in Vegas, I'd love to hear your thoughts... so write in... let's hear all about it! Now... for a bit of fear and loathing from hell, here's the Gonzo Filmmaker...


Gonzo Filmmaker here… I just got back from the first test screening of From Hell here in Las Vegas and I was pleased with what I saw. No spoilers here.

I showed up early and alone. The screening came to me at a short notice and I wasn’t able to scrounge up any of my usual fiends and reprobates to join me. That and I’ve been entrenched in the production of my own short film, which has been waylaid by that two oscar nominated, pigfucking waterhead Steven Soderberg and his remake of that useless rat pack flick that swiped some of my actors out from under me.

At any rate… there I was sitting alone taking in the other attendees as they shuffled in. I noticed a few people I recognized… the passes were left at various comic shops in town. I guess they were trying to tip the scale in their favor… kind of like Ol’ Kev Smith test screening one of his flicks at a Comic Convention. "Mallrats tested really well"… no shit.

There were a group of prime seats taped off and soon their occupants arrived. A few easily recognized fatback producers, hangers on and the directors… the Hughes brothers. Or was it the Wayans brothers…? They sat down as people finished wandering in and I noticed someone I knew a row over and only seats away from the Hughes’. "I’ve been looking forward to seeing this… but I’m not sure about the directors," I said stretching over to his ear. "They might only be good at making BLACK movies." That was loud enough to garner many uncomfortable stares. The two directors, who were sitting two rows apart from each other, stared and I returned the stare with an acknowledging grin letting them know that I knew who they were and was tossing some good-natured fun their way. The movie started shortly thereafter and I said no more.

Johnny Depp need beware of typecasting as a "drug guy"… Fear and Loathing… Blow… and now From Hell. Depp plays an opium den inhabiting detective in Victorian England facing off against the nefarious Jack the Ripper. Heather Graham plays a whore.

Having not read the source material (Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s 1991 Comic Book Series), all the appropriate twists came as the proper surprises and I had no preconceived ideas about the film. Supposedly though, the graphic novel surrounded the exploits of Jack the Ripper rather than the detective investigating it but being unaware I was not bothered by it.

The movie, while not the final, polished cut had all the special effects, process shots and soundtrack and they worked to full dramatic effect. While slow in some places, it’s nothing that a little quick editing couldn’t fix. All in all, the movie did a great job pulling off the period and you never got the sense that it was filmed in Prague. Depp as always, in my opinion, delivers a brilliant performance and Heather Graham does a fine job as a filthy whore if not a little too clean and attractive in comparison to the other whores. Ian Holm was awesome as Sir William Gull and all the performances as a whole were great.

One thing that surprised me was the lack of gore considering the subject matter. Not that there wasn’t any… there was, well done and well placed and much of it was off camera. It’s a good thing… if there were more it would have made it a slasher flick and it’s not… but knowing Hollywood they’d probably want to gore it up for unnecessary shock value.

Well, I hope that answers some questions about it and gives you an idea of what the screening was like.

-- Gonzo Filmmaker

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