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22.12.15

The New York Ripper (1982)


Director: Lucio Fulci
Starring: Jack Hedley, Almanta Suska, Paolo Marco, Andrea Occhipinti, Howard Ross
Unrated 85 Minutes

The Blu-Ray cover art for NEW YORK RIPPER proudly states "The Most Controversial Movie in History!" That probably isn't true, but it certainly is the nastiest and most controversial film in Lucio Fulci's catalog. While he certainly made gorier films (THE BEYOND, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, ZOMBIE, HOUSE BY THE CEMETARY), he never made anything with the kind of leering and mean-spirited tone found here.

In some ways it acts as a late-period giallo with its mysterious killer and its scenes of stylized violence. What sets it apart from those films is that it is less concerned with tension and plot and more interested in being as sleazy and repellant as possible. The only thing Fulci depicts with more intensity than the film's near-pornographic sex are its scenes of grisly violence. This is strong stuff here, and Fulci lingers on images of mutilated organs and sliced nipples longer than anyone would think necessary. And of course, we get Fulci's signature "eyeball" moment and it's  far more cringe-inducing than the famous splinter scene from ZOMBIE.

In between scenes of perverted sex acts and women having sharp objects jammed in their you-know-whats, Fulci threads a routine, yet amusingly daffy, tale of a weary cop (Jack Hedley) and a "brilliant" shrink (Paolo Marco) who attempt to track down the sadistic madman who quacks when he kills. Seriously -- the killer calls and taunts police while using a very bad and very annoying impersonation of Donald Duck! Though the film is played with a deadpan expression, Hedley supplies some laughs (intentional or not) as the hooker-loving cop who finds himself in a battle of wits with the perverted maniac. Fulci himself makes a brief appearance as the Chief of Police, smoking a pipe and speaking with an odd (dubbed) accent.

In this era of extreme political correctness, there's something weirdly satisfying about the film's apparent contempt for anything resembling good taste. If you've ever used gender-fluid pronouns or expressed concern over "micro-agressions," you better run, run, RUN away from NEW YORK RIPPER. For the less easily "triggered" out there, this is one of the most shocking and outrageous slashers of the 80's. Gory, sleazy and mean.... yet fun in it's own unique way.

5 out of 5.