Click here to return to the main site.

DVD Review

DVD cover

Peter: A Portrait of a Serial Killer


Starring: Walt Kissack and Gary Sharkey
High Fliers Films
RRP: £12.99
Certificate: 15
Available 24 October 2011

Peter Sutcliffe is the notorious serial killer known as the Yorkshire Ripper who went on a five-year murder spree in and around Bradford in the late Seventies during which he murdered 13 women and attempted to murder a further seven. He was eventually arrested in 1981 and sent to Broadmoor secure hospital in 1983 after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and where he now remains...

I remember a few years ago laughing at an episode of Brass Eye in which Sutcliffe!: The Musical was being performed in London's West End. It was amusing because the very notion of something as ridiculous as this being put on is just so off the mark as to be beyond comprehension... and then I saw Peter: A Portrait of a Serial Killer - a musical would have been in far better taste.

The film starts off promising, with Yorkshire Television news footage of the time. But, it quickly goes downhill after that. For starters you'll already need to know all the facts of Sutcliffe's reign of terror as despite the odd news bulletin we never really get a look at his history, what sparked his killings, or anything that would make this an interesting insight into the mind of a killer. No, what we get is a half-hearted attempt at an art house movie that turns Sutcliffe into the film's innocent victim of events. He comes across as the film's hero but there's no real exploration of what he's done or why. The end result is all a bit of a mess.

I grew up in South Yorkshire and at the time Sutcliffe was on the loose. I was eleven when he was finally caught, and still remember the newspaper and television news updates of the time, but even I had trouble equating those events to this film. It's as though the director had a film in mind about a killer and, in order to ensure that the film gained maximum publicity, just changed the main character into Sutcliffe and threw in a few news bulletins. I found myself laughing out loud at the ridiculousness of the situation and I nearly choked laughing at the pathetic use of the red balloon in the closing scenes and Frankie Goes to Hollywood's 'The Power of Love'. Really? What were they thinking?

What can't be faulted is the acting. Walt Kissack is well cast as Sutcliffe, and plays him as a man, not a cliched monster. This is about the only positive thing I can think of about this film.

I've no idea if there are any extras, as the review disc we received was merely a movie file with burnt in time code. The review disc we had also had poor sound and the wrong aspect ratio - so I hope that's fixed before the retail release.

I'm still scratching my head trying to fathom why this film even exists. If I didn't know better, I'd think Chris Morris was behind it.


Darren Rea

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£6.99 (Amazon.co.uk)
£6.99 (Play.com)
£5.49 (HMV.com)
£9.47 (Tesco.com)

All prices correct at time of going to press.