“Creatures of Whitechapel” (2016): Frankenstein and Jack the Ripper Cross Paths in Twisted Gothic Horror Short

From its opening shots of stunning 3D matte paintings depicting a rooftop shot of 1888 London (created by Johnny Bones) to its end-credits stinger, director Jonathan Martin’s short film Creatures of Whitechapel is a breathtaking marvel. This U.K./U.S. coproduction combines legendary Victorian era characters, steampunk-style practical effects, and a loving nod to Hammer Film Productions’ creature features.

Cowritten by Jonathan and Rebecca Martin, Creatures of Whitechapel tells the tale of Victor Frankenstein’s (Barrett Ogden) search for the elusive element needed to bring his female creation (Victoria Halloran) to life. His assistant Igor (Carlee Baker) follows his commands, even though she is disgusted when she sees him engage in physical pleasure with the nonconscious creature. Doctor Pretorius (Rick Macy) has a keen interest in the proceedings. Meanwhile, London is terrified by a string of killings attributed to the mysterious Jack the Ripper. Mary Kelly (Jillian Joy) and Catherine Eddowes (Crystal Udy) are two prostitutes who cross the path of that infamous serial killer. It would be unfair to future viewers to give away any more details about what happens in the short, but suffice it to say that blood flows freely, jealousy and madness run rampant, and shocking twists on beloved horror characters rule the night.

Barrett Ogden plays Victor Frankenstein in director Jonathan Martin’s twisted gothic horror short Creatures of Whitechapel.

Jonathan Martin directs Creatures of Whitechapel splendidly, maintaining order in a frenzied story that plays with perversity and dark humor without going overboard into camp territory. The cast is well up to the task, including Carlee Baker bringing an underlying humanity to the leering, growling Igor, and Barrett Ogden giving a perfect level of intensity to his Victor Frankenstein. Jillian Joy is delightful in her turn as Mary Kelly, Rick Macy gives a menacing edge to his Doctor Pretorius, Crystal Udy looks like she stepped straight out of a Hammer classic in her portrayal of Catherine Eddowes, and Reeve Boyd gives a solid, if brief, performance as a potential suitor of Mary.

Catherine Eddowes (Crystal Udy) succumbs to the offbeat charms of  Igor (Carlee Baker, left).

Creatures of Whitechapel has a rich color palette that ranges from vivid to garish, with some scenes bathed in blue and others in deep red. The framing is outstanding and the overall look is gorgeous. Cinematographer Jason Ball captures everything splendidly. Gerrit Wunder’s score is exciting. The special effects, visual effects, period costumes, and set design – complete with a laboratory equipped with a seemingly endless supply of large electrical switches – are all first-rate.  

Igor saves lady of the night Mary Kelly (Jillian Joy) from the advances of an overzealous suitor.

Jonathan Martin and his team have created a thrilling, fun take on gothic horror legends that combines unique new voices with an homage to Hammer Film Productions. Creatures of Whitechapel is in the very early stages of its film festival run and I highly recommend it as a must-see when it plays near you.

Creatures of Whitechapel: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.