THE NEW YORK RIPPER
**** Out of 5
Tagline- It’s a Nice to Visit, but You Wouldn’t Want to Die There
Release Date- March 4th, 1982 (Italy)
Running Time- 93-Minutes
Screenplay- Gianfranco Clerici, Vincenzo Mannino, Lucio Fulci and Dardano Sacchetti
Director- Lucio Fulci
Starring- Jack Hedley, Almanta Keller, Paolo Malco, Zora Kerova & Andrea Occhipinti (under the name Andrew Painter)
Released in 1982 The New York Ripper in my opinion was the last great film made by Lucio Fulci and after this there was a decline in his work and really the only movie I really liked after this was Cat in the Brain and I found Murder Rock to be an average at best movie, but as a whole I really didn’t care for the majority of his work after Ripper, but depending on who you ask some feel the decline started with the New York Ripper I would very much disagree and rate this movie as my 3rd favorite movie by Fulci. Even though I did enjoy his films in the 80s prior to this a lot of these movies like City of the Living Dead & the Beyond were a bit incoherent and often really didn’t make a lot of sense, but New York Ripper has a story and also has more depth in the plot than some people might realize.
The New York Ripper is probably the most controversial movie Lucio Fulci made and perhaps his most brutal as well. The gore in Ripper isn’t as over the top as his splatter flicks, but the movie is quite gory and its funny when people say it lacked gore, which in some ways is sort of true if you compare it to the Beyond, but Ripper is quite gory, but it’s not over the top and this movie is also probably his most sadistic as well as many of the death scenes have a mean spirited approach. Like I said the gore isn’t like some of his splatter flicks, but it’s still quite graphic as we get one girl get stabbed in the crotch with a glass bottle and even features one character get sliced up by a razor, which for me was actually cringe worthy as it’s so graphic and mean and I almost had to turn away from the screen.
Not only is the New York Ripper, Fulci’s most graphic in terms of the tone of the movie, but it’s also quite sleazy at times and more often than not horror films are accused of being misogynistic and I highly disagree with that, but it might be hard to argue against that with The New York Ripper. The violence against the female characters is so raw and brutal it’s very hard to defend the movie as not being misogynistic. Regardless of that there really is a great movie here that often gets overlooked due to the violence, sleaze and for being misogynistic, but if people can see past that I think more might realize what an excellent film the New York Ripper was and it sort of reminds me of the great Gialli that Fulci made in the 70s only with a lot more graphic violence.
The screenplay was written by Gianfranco Clerici, Vincenzo Mannino, Lucio Fulci and Dardano Sacchetti and features a psychotic killer on the loose stalking the streets of NYC killing off women while a detective and doctor franticly search for the killer. The script has a lot of good ideas and all are mostly well executed. In many ways this is the typical Italian horror screenplay of the 80s, but quite honestly I find it better written than most from the era. While the characters might lack some depth for the most part they are still in general well-written for. The killer talking in a duck voice while yes, a little silly, but does make sense in regards to the story and I’ll admit upon my first viewing it was a little difficult to look past, but now it doesn’t bother me at all and again makes sense when it comes to the story. While the screenplay at times puts a little too much focus on the sleaze, which isn’t a problem for me, but it does slightly hinder the story at times, but as a whole this was a mostly well written movie with a lot more depth than people give it credit for.
As director Lucio Fulci delivers in my opinion the last great movie of his career and one of his best in general. Fulci manages to capture the ugly and sleazy side of 1980s NYC better than most filmmakers and as far as horror goes I would say the only filmmaker to capture that better was William Lustig with Maniac. What I love most about the NY Ripper is the ugly and dark feel the movie has and you never really feel safe since the movie has a real a raw and gritty feel to it. The death scenes just might be the best Fulci ever shot. As I stated before its not his goriest, but it is his most sadistic, which makes even more graphic. Unlike his splatter flicks the gore level while high isn’t over the top. The deaths in the movie very much have this mean spirited nature behind them, which is what makes the violence so much more shocking even if we’ve seen far more graphic deaths in terms of gore in other Fulci movies, but the fact the gore isn’t as over the top for me makes the deaths so much more powerful.
The pacing of the New York Ripper is excellent due to the gritty feel the movie has and like I said before you always have this ugly feel to the movie where you never feel safe and even when there isn’t any action the movie still has an uneasy feel going for it and as I stated the death scenes are Fulci’s most disturbing. As much as I enjoyed Fulci’s splatter flicks, the New York Ripper for me was a return to form in a sense. Despite the graphic violence Ripper reminds me of such movies as Don’t Torture a Duckling to where it doesn’t rely on violence and also Zombi 2, which despite the great gore F/X has a lot more going for it and that’s exactly how I feel on the New York Ripper; despite the violence the movie has a lot more going for it and it also has a very downbeat and sad ending, which for me added a lot more power and depth to the movie.
Overall The New York Ripper is a movie that sparks great debates as some see this nothing more than vile trash with a deep hatred towards women whereas others see this as a really dark and gritty movie and of course some see this as the end of the great Lucio Fulci whereas I feel it ended after this movie. Like I said in the opening of the review after Ripper I can’t say I really cared for the majority of Fulci’s movies with the exception of Cat in the Brain and Murder Rock (well sort of).
Daniela Doria who played Kitty has one of the most brutal deaths ever captured on film and while it was violent it was more due to the mean spirited feel that made it so graphic. Daniela Doria is one of Fulci’s favorite victims as she also appeared and was killed in House by the Cemetery, City of the Living Dead and Murder Rock.