original title: Lo Squartatore di New York
aka: Manhattan Ripper, Psycho Ripper
Director: Lucio Fulci
Starring: Jack Hedley, Almanta Suska, Howard Ross, Andrea Occhipinti, Alexandra Delli Colli
New York City: It’s a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to die there!
A vicious killer is on the loose in the streets of New York and he loves to slash and gut open young, pretty females. Lieutenant Fred Williams gets the job of trying to hunt down this crazy killer before he is able to destroy the life of more young women. The task also becomes personal when the killer starts to mock Fred by calling him and speaking in a duck voice everytime he is about to cut open a new victim.
The New York Ripper is one of the most nastiest films that Fulci ever did. It’s so violent that the former BBFC censor James Ferman wanted to take the film back to the airport and deport it away from England. The only reason why it is not a Video Nasty is that it was not able to get a release in the UK in the early 80’s. It is actually still not released in its uncut form in England to this day.
Since it was mostly shot in New York, it gives a feel of being a mixture between a giallo and an american slasher film. Fulci is a director that has no problem making a sleazy movie and letting him loose in the streets of NY in the early 80’s seems like a mixture made in horror heaven. The trashy setting is the perfect environment for a film like this, something that also other early 80’s slashers took full use of. The biggest part of this film is the violent scenes that all have very sexualized overtones and like it or not it is these violent scenes that will make fans come back to this film again and again.
The first kill is a good example of what you are getting into here. The killer stabs her and there is a cut-away shot where you see something else and the scene could have ended there and it would be just fine, but no, Fulci goes back and shows another long stab, another cut-away, then another stab. The violence is in your face and you will not be able to hide away from it with New York Ripper. The sadistic scenes will leave you wanting to take a shower afterwards, it is that sweaty, nasty and dirty.
While the film is very sadistic and brutal, it is also visually well done. The cinematography is great and some of the murder scenes is colorful and they are definitely something every giallo fan can appreciate. The characters are not very interesting and the acting is mediocre. Jack Hedley (Witchcraft, For Your Eyes Only) plays our lead lieutenant Fred, who has become very tired of his job. I guess any cop would be working in New York in the early 80’s, but Fred also doesn’t seem very interested and overlooks clues very early on. When it first turns personal however he does get some of his cop instincts back and does his job the way he is supposed to.
The quacking and duck sound that the killer speaks in will put some people off the film, but I enjoyed it. It was different, weird and also made sense when it was explained in the final act. His motive however… well, does a motive for a serial killer need to make much sense?
New York Ripper is one of the sleaziest movies ever made. It almost feels pornographic in the way the violent scenes are being done. Some have complained about the so-called “torture porn” movies of today, but none of the popular ones that have been tagged with that description has been able to make you feel so dirty as you do when you are watching this Fulci film. It is also well paced, have a nice score and good camerawork. New York Ripper should be a must have for fans of both giallo and slasher films.