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Killer who talks like a duck wanders around New York City killing women by various means including slicing an eyeball with a razorblade. Detective Jack Headly is hot on his trail. Written by
Lo Squartatore di New York/New York Ripper(1982) outraged many horror filmgoers with its brutal uncompromising depiction of violence towards women. One of the most controversial giallos to come out of Italy. Released ten years after Don't Torture a Duckling(1972) which was also controversial for different reasons. Lucio Fulci has filmed vicious scenes of violence before but New York Ripper takes the cake in violent imagery. As brutal as giallos like Giallo a Venezia(1979) and The Killer is Still Among Us(1986). What makes the violent scenes for some tough to digest are the intense physical emotions of the murderer when killing his victims.
Gives new meaning to the term hardcore horror. Some of the most brutal depiction of hardcore horror I have witnessed in a horror film. Many of the film's contents have many similarities with Maniac(1980) which gained controversy for identical reasons. Daring approach by Fulci in making the hardcore horror moments both powerful and ugly. The director had guts in doing a giallo with an extremely unpleasant subject matter. Misunderstood Lucio Fulci film that is one of his finest horror films.
An aspect that either humored, shocked, or upset many people was the mock duck voice used by the murderer. I find that the duck voice of the killer adds to his menacing and sick presence. The duck voice of the murderer was a reference by the director to his earlier 1970s giallo, Don't Torture a Duckling(1972). A reference that is lost among some horror film enthusiasts. Capped what would be Lucio Fulci's second and final prosperous artistic period of his film career. The director's sole horror film with erotic overtones that adds to the controversial style of this pic.
Grim and relentless portrayal of human nature and its darkest aspects. The bleak nature of New York Ripper(1982) makes Lucio Fulci's gothic films look happy go lucky. Explodes with lots of anger and resentment that gives it a depressing feel. Dipped deep in nihilistic waters with the depressing portrayal of human behavior. The subplot involving the disabled little girl is uncomfortably sad. One film that has its plot full of anger and resentment is Abel Ferrara's Ms. 45(1981).
New York Ripper(1982) is filled with some of the director's usual quirks and visual trademarks. Fulci's direction pushes the limit in scenes of sadistic violence. Sometimes part of the story seems to come from the gut of the controversial filmmaker. Direction does have some negative aspects but the negatives are few and far between. The direction of Lucio Fulci for New York Ripper(1982) is not as flashy or flamboyant as Dario Argento's direction of Tenebre(1982)(except in a few moments). He does get the job done with competence and craftsman experience.
Comparisons can be made between Lucio Fulci's New York Ripper(1982) and Dario Argento's Tenebre(1982). Both films deal with similar motifs and themes on violence towards women. Also, each film are gory uncompromising giallos with striking images. New York Ripper and Tenebre each have a show stopping moment of gory murder. These two films use bold filmmaking techniques. Each changed some of the rules of the giallo genre.
There are many scenes that were controversial but the one that placed New York Ripper in film infamy was the infamous death scene of Daniela Doria. Two years for Daniela Doria after being part of another controversial scene in The Gates of Hell(1980). For a gruesome moment of vile violence it certainly has a excellent build up and pay off. As in Zombie Flesh Eaters(1979) the eye motif becomes a major part of this scene. Daniela Doria has to get kudos for acting in a difficult scene as this one. The merger of the erotic and the violent is what makes this particular scene hard to watch.
There is a small film noir quality within the frame of the story. This is because of the assortment of unsympathetic characters that surround it. The only person that comes close to having any moments of sympathy is Jane. Lt. Williams is an unlikable protagonist who comes out as arrogant and self centered. The character of Lt. Williams seems to be inspired by the close minded Police Detective of Let Sleeping Corpse Lie(1974). Dr. Davis comes out in the film as a narcissist who's too please with his intellect.
What turned off even some of the Lucio Fulci admirers was the realistic look of New York Ripper's violent scenes. Unlike in his gothic films from the same period there is no fantasy subtext to make the violence bearable. Its realistic elements help make New York Ripper(1982) into a courageous effort of fercious horror. The violence depicted towards women is what it is and that's disgusting but at the same time has a certain realism that doesn't make it totally misogynistic. New York Ripper moves away from the comic book feel of Fulci's gothic pictures and into the realism of his early 1970s giallo pictures. Its realistic depiction of violence is the film's biggest strength.
Abel Ferrara made a little ribbing to the title of this film when the killer of Fear City(1985) is once referred to as New York Knifer. Two of the film's writers had worked with Fulci before on Don't Torture a Duckling. Unusually tightly plotted thriller which never clicks in a good flow in some moments. Excellent camera work created by Deep Red(1975) DoP, Luigi Kuveiller. Its not a perfect motion picture but for a bold horror film it certainly delivers the goods.
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