Saturday, April 14, 2012

Helium Voiced Sexist: The New York Ripper (1982)

The New York Ripper  (Lo squartatore di New York) (Italy, 1982)
Rating: **
Starring: Jack Hedley, Almanta Suska and Howard Ross

My admiration to Fulci's directorial skills and nightmare logic led me into watching this film despite knowing how notoriously deemed misogynistic it is. Could the claims be correct? Or will I strike gold with another of Fulci's classics?

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 Satan and Donald Duck. The lawman's only lead is that all of the victims are 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 bodycounter killings for his New York Ripper, with a distractingly intemperate fill of over-blown big city sleaze similar to films like Eyes of a Stranger (1981), Basket Case (1982) or even the unbeatable Maniac (1980). Now I say distractingly intemperate because, as one of probably few to never really consider slasher films as misogynistic due to the mostly balanced portrayal and distribution of deaths to both sexes (while some titles did have a high number of female deaths, the males usually have a far gruesome turn waiting for them), New York Ripper somehow overly-exploited the sleazier elements of the horror sub-genre to the point that it is near uncomfortable.

While movies like Eyes of a Stranger's make up for its 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 and harassed by their male counterparts, this not even including our Donald Duck-wannabe. Though there are male characters sympathetic to the troubles the women victims are in, there is still a greater number of them taking advantage of these women and it doesn't really help that these victims are also perversely present as sexually-starved or devious either. I personally find it hard to digest, but the extremism of this exploit does soften few of the blows as it borderlines surrealism and one can't really take any of it more seriously than bad taste cheddar meant for the daring and hardcore.

Of course, I'm not gonna say that New York Ripper doesn't deserve its audiences because it does have a couple of redeeming factors; as any Fulci movie, Ripper can easily gain an audience thanks to its gore, all brutal and shocking in your typical Fulci fashion. The kills made the film enjoyably discomforting with the killer's quack-quack-quacking mixing along the screams of his victims, as if the failed attempt to obscure the horror only manages to heighten it. The ending also shares an effectively gritty tone as any plot twist involving a disabled child is guaranteed to be never a happy one and lastly, as a minor compliment, I love the New York Ripper theme! It has that big-city taste in an action movie in place of the gritty gothic tunes of Fulci's Zombie Flesh Eaters and his Gates of Hell trilogy.

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
Total: 8


  1. Kaijinu!

    Award time, buddy!


  2. Undoubtedly one of Fulci's best flicks. Incredibly atmospheric, incredibly tense and packed with awesome kills. I love it!

    1. well, I wouldn't call it his best, but yeah, it's amazingly gory and atmospheric!