From Hell, a stylish reinterpretation of the Jack the Ripper case starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham, won the weekend box-office race, carving up the Drew Barrymore drama Riding in Cars with Boys (which came in second) and the Robert Redford/James Gandolfini testosterone-fest The Last Castle (opening a weak fifth).
It's the third time in recent weeks that a bloody R-rated movie trumped more gentle rivals to take the top slot. Opening in more theaters, Barrymore's chick-flick was expected to take the top spot, but she proved no match for history's most famous serial killer.
Placing a strong third, Denzel Washington's Training Day cemented its status as the first major hit of the fall season. The Last Castle was expected to benefit from its flag-waving military subject matter, but it opened well short of Redford's last two star vehicles, The Horse Whisperer and Up Close and Personal, both of which courted female moviegoers.
The rest of the weekend shaped up pretty much as expected, with the holdovers dropping off as usual. Unless the Halloween-themed Bones (starring rapper Snoop Dogg as a ghostly pimp) or Thirteen Ghosts scores an upset (neither film is being screened in advance for critics, which is never a good sign), From Hell could land the top spot again next week.
The only other movie getting a wide release is the Kevin Spacey/Jeff Bridges drama-with-sci-fi-overtones K-Pax, which has an awkward title and an even worse ad campaign working against it.
Andrew Johnston is a film critic and associate editor at US WEEKLY magazine.