Lo squartatore di New York, The New York Ripper (1982)
Directed by: Lucio Fulci
Written by: Dardano Sacchetti, Gianfranco Clerici, Lucio Fulci, Vincenzo Mannino
Starring: Almanta Suska, Howard Ross, Jack Hedley
In New York, somebody is gorily killing off young,sexually active young women. Lieutenant Williams, who is often taunted on the phone by the duck voiced killer, enlists the help of a chess playing professor, Dr Davis, to help him catch the maniac. When a young woman, Fay, is menaced in the underground by a two fingered gigolo, Mikos, Williams thinks he has his man. Then Mikos turns up dead with a polystyrene bag over his head and Williams reveives a phonecall from the duck voiced psychopath, saying he has William’s girlfriend …….
The New York Ripper is an extremely controversial movie,especially in the UK. When the film came to the BBFC in 1981, they thought it was so horrid they had the print escorted out of the country by armed guards. Mind you,the distirbutors didn’t help themselves with their poster which announced FULVIA FILM PROUDLY PRESENTS-THE NEW YORK RIPPER-SLASHING UP WOMEN WAS HIS PLEASURE! It was never released in any form in the UK until a couple of years ago and it’s still cut!
Well,is it actually any good? It’s not really one of Fulci’s best films like The Beyond or A Lizard In A Woman’s Skin, but is still a cut above exploitation slashers of the time and certainly more interesting. Fulci always has a really cynical view of humanity and it comes through in this movie more than any others. None of the characters are especially likeable, even the supposed heroine [who,in a typical Fulci quirk,isn’t introduced until half way through], and they all seem to have their sordid little secrets. The cop ‘hero’ is so dislikeable that when the Ripper has his hooker girlfriend, he seems more bothered about his colleagues finding out he was seeing this woman rather than her getting murdered. This, the film’s enveloping sleaze,and Fulci’s adoption of a more realistic style than, say, Dario Argento, means that the film isn’t always that enjoyable but it’s fascinating and does have some great set pieces such as an almost surreal nightmare scene in a cinema and a truly queasy suspense sequence when a woman wakes up to find herself tied to a bed by the killer. The numerous exterior Big Apple shots almost make you believe the whole film was shot there and Jack Hedley give one of the best performances by a lead in a Fulci movie, he’s a great hard boiled, cynical hero straight out of a film noir.
As for the violence, well, Fulci has actually made bloodier films but usually they were more fantastical. New York Ripper’s more realistic feel makes the brutality nastier. The slashings are disturbingly realistic,and although a bottle up the crotch moment is thankfully shown in half light, the [often cut] scene where the Ripper razors a woman’s breast and eye while she is tied up really is hard to watch. As he often did, Fulci just goes that one step further, with the really disturbing touch of her boyfriend being able to hear her screams on the phone. And this is without mentioning the toe rape scene [my wife actually watched this one with me and found that scene the worst!]. I wouldn’t say the film is that misogynist really -the men are as ‘dirty’ as the women and the more lasting impression is that is a city drowning under it’s own filth and grime.
Despite all the cynicism, the violence and the sordidness, New York Ripper does end quite movingly,with a literal cry for help. It has some silly aspects,such as the explanation for the killer’s motive [“somehow the duck snapped in his mind”],and as often in film by this director, the film slows down when it should maybe be speeding up? I also don’t think the ‘Rocky’ style theme music fits but that was probably the idea. As said, it isn’t especially entertaining,but is still essential viewing for horror and exploitation cinema fans.
[pt-filmtitle]The New York Ripper[/pt-filmtitle]