In 1888, a mysterious letter was sent to Scotland Yard. "I keep hearing the police have caught me," it said in scrawled letters, "but they won't fix me just yet." Police had become desperate for clues during the "Autumn of Terror," in which five women had been savagely murdered in the streets of the Whitechapel district of London. Now, they had not only a letter in the hand of the murderer -- they now knew what he preferred to be called.
"Yours truly," it read menacingly, "Jack the Ripper."
The letters, which were released to the public in the hopes of turning up new leads, turned some unusually bloody killings of local prostitutes into the most studied murder case in history. The juicy details were practically built for gore obsessed London newspapers. In nearly every case, a Whitechapel streetwalker was brutally sliced up before her organs were methodically harvested...just out of view of potential witnesses.
At one point during the investigation, a kidney was sent from "Saucy Jack" in the mail. The other half, he claimed, had been eaten. Evidence pointed to a local who was familiar with the dodgy nightlife of London, but also someone with medical precision -- a doctor perhaps, or even a female midwife.
On October 13th and 27th, the mystery comes back into focus as "Jack the Ripper: The Definitive Story" headlines a special October screening in over 500 theaters, a not-to-be-missed horrifying event. The nationwide event is being presented by SuperVision Media, Butterfinger and Fathom Events (the screening specialists who organized the popular Metropolitan Opera's "Live in HD" series, as well as upcoming Twilight screenings.)
The documentary draws on police reports, witness statements, and scholarly research to recreate the seedy Whitechapel district -- computer simulations even take into account locations of streetlights to envision the streets as the Ripper saw them. In a case where horrific crime scene photos were destroyed for fear of gruesome copycats, crockpot theories and legends abound. Filmmakers had to sift through mountains of details, shrouded in secrecy, to create the 90-minute docu-drama.
"Thriller Thursdays" begins with a 30-minute screening of the new feature horror film Butterfinger the 13th.
The evening's events October 13 and 27th start at 7:30pm each night. Click here to find a participating theater near you.