Saturday, April 14, 2012
Helium Voiced Sexist: The New York Ripper (1982)
starring: Jack Hedley, Almanta Suska and Howard Ross
My admiration to Fulci led me into watching this film despite knowing how notorious New York Ripper is, so much so that it was deemed misogynistic. Could the claims be correct? Or will I strike gold with another Fulci classic?
The plot follows a prostitute-humping, hard-to-crack NYPD detective trying to stop a Jack The Ripper-type madman who phones his victims with a voice resembling a trippy and unholy fusion of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. The lawman's only lead is that all of the victims were women, either sexually active or provocative, and he will need the help of a famed college psychologist to track him down.
Following the success of American slashers, Fulci mixed giallo whodunit with the gore-happy slasher killings for his New York Ripper, though with a distractingly intemperate misstep of over-blowing the big city sleaze that was similar to films like Eyes of a Stranger, Basket Case or even the unbeatable Maniac. I am probably the few to never really consider slasher films as misogynistic due to the balanced portrayal of death to both sexes (while some titles did have a high number of female deaths. In those terms, the males sometimes have a gruesome turn waiting for them), but New York Ripper somehow exploited this and it is nearly unwatchable.
While movies like Eyes of a Stranger's make up for it's high female fatality rate by providing two strong female leads that we can emphasize with, and Maniac assures us that its women-slaughtering overweight psycho is all but root-worthy, Ripper's female populous often gets berated by their male counterparts, not including our Donald Duck-wannabe. While there are males sympathetic to the troubles the women victims are or possibly might fall to, the number of males who took advantage on women as sex-starved or sexually devious (our lead detective included) are more notoriously present and I find that hard to digest.
It's maligned and repugnant, I'll admit that despite my love for Fulci's works, I can see why many stay away from this film and I would probably one of those who will, too. If gore's all you will ask for, then you'll have more than you can chew here in The New York Ripper. Everybody else, let's move along...
1 Female murdered, hand found
1 Female repeatedly slashed with a switchblade
1 Female jabbed with broken wine bottle
1 Female repeatedly sliced with kitchen knife, throat cut (dream)
1 Female gutted, switchblade to the neck
1 Female slashed to death with razorblade
1 Male seen dead, suffocated
1 Male shot from cheek to cheek