Malevolent Dark devotes a ton of time writting about the exploits of Italian horror films. Of these films, some of our favorites are direted by a man named Lucio Fulci. For the record, Lucio Fulci directed on of the best zombie films not directed by George Romero in the 1979 classic Zombie. Lucio Fulci famously depicts extremely gory and violent deaths. Specifically, the man has committed more cinematic violence towards eyeballs than any other director. Fulci famously creates remarkable Italian horror films. That being said, no man is perfect. The New York Ripper feels like one of the lower points of a storied career.
Detectives, Ducks and Italian Horror Genres
In short, the film covers the exploits of a serial killer in New York. Through a series of violent crimes throughout the city, The New York Ripper plays out like a standard detective story. In the mind of Malevolent Dark, New York Ripper does not quote qualify as an Italian giallo film, but that certainly can be argued. It may have more in common with a style of film called poliziotteschi. The distinction being that the primary focus of the film is law enforcement cracking the case. A giallo typically focuses on the trials of the victims caught in web of a faceless murderer. If you have any opinions on the matter, please let us know in the comment section.
The New York Ripper – The Story
The plot couldn’t be simpler. A deranged killer stalks women in New York and brutally murders them. But here’s the joke, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like duck, then it’s a psychopathic New York serial killer. We wish we were kidding, but the killer literally talks like Donald Duck while he kills. Like serial killers typically do, this one gets attention by periodically taunting Lieutenant Fred Williams, played by Jack Hedley. Lt. Williams enlists the help of psychologist Dr. Paul Davis, played by Paolo Malco, to profile and track the killer. Paolo Malco also played Dr. Norman Boyle in Lucio Fulci’s The House by the Cemetery (1981).
In another casting shout outs, Alexandra Delli Colli portrays Jane Loge, a nymphomaniac swinger. All we can say is that she is the perfect woman for the job. Alexandra Delli Colli also starred in lowly but entertaining Zombie Holocaust (1980). Also Zora Kerova, of Cannibal Ferrox (1981) fame, takes on a small role as Eva, an erotic performer.
The smell of the 80’s hangs on this like cheap cologne
The soundtrack sounds like a cheap 80’s sitcom. Overall the acting is below average and the dialog is worse. While the kills are brutal, the special effects are cheap and unconvincing. At this point, I am not sure there is even a sustainable plot. The whole thing plays out like a 70’s soft-core porno, only the acting is worse and the sex is even more disappointing. In its favor, it at least retains the cheap grainy patina of 80’s soft-core porn.
Speaking of porno, the film seethes with lurid displays of trashy sexuality. The constant and garish erotic lip licking makes the skin crawl. The character Jane Hoge frequents sex shows and secretly records the audio for her husband. In one of the more debasing scenes, Jane Hodge is brought to a non-consenting climax in a bar by a man’s dirty bunions. The scene uncomfortably goes on forever. Even the good guys wear black. Lt. Fred Williams frequents prostitutes in a display of moral ambiguity. The entire film anchors itself to the seedy sexual under-belly of 1980’s New York.
It’s brutal, but is it worth the controversy?
The New York Ripper often receives criticism for its sick misogynist tones around sex and violence to women. While the criticism is fair, it’s not clear that this film deserves to be singled out for it. The murders are not as sexually charged, nor as graphic as other films of this style, What Have You Done With Solange (1972) for example. Honestly, its not even as overtly violent as other Lucio Fulci films. Again, none of suggest that The New York York Ripper isn’t violent, it is, but we don’t know that it set any records that Malevolent Dark is aware of.
Well yeah, that one scene is pretty bad
For the most part, the special effects fail to impress; however, but at least visceral and shocking. The eventual build up to the killer’s assault on Kitty, Lt. Fred Williams favorite prostitute places the exclamation point The New York Ripper. The scene shamelessly demonstrates the term “Torture Porn” several decades before it was cool. The killer SLOWLY carves up Kitty with a razor blade. At one point the killer slowly slices her down the middle of the forehead through her eyeball while the eyeball darts back and forth in it’s socket. Dear god.
The New York Ripper – What exactly was Lucio Fulci trying to accomplish
When discussing The New York Ripper, fair criticism must consider intent. At first, it’s easy to dismiss The New York Ripper as another misogynist slaughter by Lucio Fulci. This particular film seems even more barbaric as it seems completely devoid of any of the style that he and his contemporaries are revered for. Quite frankly, this was my position immediately after completing the film. Hours later it struck me, am I the sucker? Is this film actually rife with style, and that style just so happens to the flat, hard-luck New York detective style? Certainly, if that was the intent of Lucio Fulci, he technically succeeded, but in a very mundane way .
The New York Ripper – It’s Trashy, but the Good Kind
The New York Ripper represents one of the lower rungs of Lucio Fulci’s ladder; however, the hardcore among us should still take the time to watch the film. Understandably, a killer that talks like Donald Duck couldn’t be more ridiculous, but if you can find a way to handle that it may be worth the time. If nothing else, The New York Ripper succeeds greatly at summoning the spirt of a dime store detective novel and confidently asserts itself as a consummate 80’s B-movie crime story.
MAJOR SPOLER UPDATE
Recently, Malevolent Dark watched the biographical documentary Fulci for Fake (2019). As an aside, Malevolent Dark highly recommends this documentary for any fans of Fulci’s work. Citing the complete plotline of The New York Ripper (1982), the killer is a father driven mad by his terminally ill child. She lies helpless in a hospital with several of her limbs amputated. The whole scene is terribly depressing. Again, driven mad by her infliction, the killer adopts the voice her toy duck. He kills any beautiful woman that enjoys the life that his daughter will never have.
This storyline is fascinating because prior to the release of this film, Lucio Fulci’s daughter Camilla became paralyzed in a terrible horse riding accident. Several of Lucio’s colleagues and friends surmise that Fulci was bleeding his true feelings for his daughter when telling this tale. While there is no way to prove this to be true, it provides another example of life imitating art, and art being born of life.
The New York Ripper (1982) - Lucio Fulci, NY Trash - Malevolent Dark
Director: Lucio Fulci
Date Created: 1982-01-01 00:00