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 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.

Of course, I'm not gonna say that New York Ripper doesn't deserve it's audiences because it did have its redeeming factors; as any Fulci movie, Ripper can easily gain an audience thanks to it's 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 horrors only manages to heighten it. The ending also shares a gritty tone, as any a plot twist involving a disabled child is guaranteed to be never a happy one. (when did it?) Lastly, it's a minor compliment but 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.

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
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!