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Fear City
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Fear City More at IMDbPro »

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17 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Not a Bad film

Author: eibon04 from New York City, NY
18 April 2001

Good film that doesn't get the same amount of respect as other Ferrara movies. Fear City(1984) is a precusor to Spike Lee's Summer of Sam(1999). The character Matt Rossei is the typical Ferrara person who is guilt ridden and is continously searching for the pain relieving rewards of redemption. Influenced heavily by Maniac(1980), New York Ripper(1982), and The Godfather(1972). Like most of Abel Ferrara's films, Fear City(1984) was horribly cut to prevent it from getting an X rating. The opening attack is reminscent of the first attack of Thana in Ms. 45(1981). Melenie Griffith has never before or since looked and acted with an erotic and sexy quality like she does in Fear City(1984).

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13 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Mixed Results

Author: marquis de cinema from Boston, MA
23 April 2001

Disappointing follow up for Abel Ferrara to the excellent Ms. 45(1981) for a few reasons. One, there is not the same emotional or intensity level of the previous film. Two, the main character compared to Thana is almost not likable. Three, at times the film is fascinating to watch while other times the film bogs down to boring.

Doesn't know whether it wants to be a slasher pic, a mafia epic or both. The inclusion of the mafia in Fear City(1984) sort of reminds me of Fritz Lang's M(1931). Like in M(1931), the mafia is interested in finding the stalker/murderer because he's hurting their business. Part of Fear City(1984) is a warmup for King of New York(1990) and The Funeral(1996).

A ridiculous aspect of the movie is the idea of the karate killer. I wondered why this film was not named The Karate Killer which is a better title than Fear City(1984). The karate stalker/murderer seems out of place in Fear City(1984) for he is someone who belongs more in a Steven Seagal film and less in an Abel Ferrara feature. Major putdown that hurts the film a lot.

Matt Rossi is a character that's hard to pin down. In some scenes he is arrogant and unlikable. In other scenes Matt Rossi is guilt ridden and vulnerable. Its this guilt ridden quality of Matt Rossi that puts him in the line of Ferrara characters such as Thana(Ms. 45), Frank(King of New York), and the Lt(Bad Lieutenant).

The filming of the sleezy locale of Fear City(1984) is one of the film's saving graces. Abel Ferrara is terrific at showing a part of New York where sleeze, sex , and death are common and life or human flesh is cheap. Done before the current Mayor of New York City cleaned that part of the city up. In the style of many similar Italian erotic thrillers.

Fear City(1984) and Lucio Fulci's The New York Ripper(1982) have a lot in common with each other. One, both films take place in the sleezy parts of Times Square during the 1980s. Two, the two films have a killer whose on an insane mission for human purity. Three, the violence and the sex in Fear City(1984) and New York Ripper(1982) are depicted in an ugly and unpleasent fashion.

Like other Ferrara features except for Bad Lieutenant(1992), Fear City was badly cut for its theatrical release in the United States. It seems that the director's films are not well liked by the MPPA. I might see the movie in a different light if I ever saw the complete uncut version of Fear City(1984). Scenes that were cut or trimmed involved heavy graphic violence.

The first flashback sequence is a fantasic blend of realism and surreal. Done with the same horror quality as the dream of Thana from Ms. 45(1981). The second flashback sequence is even better. Shows how Matt Rossi got involved with Mafia Boss, Carmine.

The fight between boxer Matt Rossi and the Karate Killer is both entertaining and silly. A strange way for Matt Rossi and the Karate Killer to confront each other. This sequence loses some steam after a few minutes bcause of the one sided match. Pales in comparison to the Halloween party massacre sequence in Ms. 45(1981).

Tom Berenger is average in the role of the tormented Matt Rossi. The best acting in Fear City(1984) belongs to Michael V Gazzo who gives some unintentional comic relief as erotic dance club owner, Mikey. The attack on the first dancer is done with the same editing technique as with the first rape on Thana in Ms. 45(1981). Melanie Griffith plays the same kind of character here that she did on Brian De Palma's Body Double(1984)[She is extremely beautiful and sensual more in Fear City than in any other of her films].

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Decent thriller.

8/10
Author: HumanoidOfFlesh from Chyby, Poland
21 January 2002

A psycho killer is slashing beautiful strippers in New York.Tom Berenger tries to stop him!"Fear City" is pretty good,but it's obvious that scenes of violence were heavily cut.It's really a shame,I'd love to see an uncut version.The urban setting of New York and the whole story reminds me a little bit "Maniac"(1980)and "The New York Ripper"(1982).There's plenty of sleaze and tons of nudity(even Melanie Griffith is naked in a couple of scenes!).So if you like Abel Ferrara movies("Ms 45","Driller Killer")check out this vastly underrated film.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Wrong em' Boyo

8/10
Author: valis1949 from United States
24 August 2010

Although FEAR CITY is provocatively titillating, and sex drenched, it really never manages to seduce. However, the film does a remarkable job of capturing the essence of early 80's tawdry 42nd St. Midtown Manhattan (Pre-Disneyfication). And, the film boasts a cavalcade of 80's talent; Tom Berenger, Billy Dee Williams, Melanie Griffith, and Rae Dawn Chong. Although director Able Ferrara was throttled by too many producers, he has still managed to craft a fairly interesting picture. What makes FEAR CITY slightly unusual is the treatment of the killer. In most films of this nature, the primary aim is to identify and demonstrate the Evil Doer's, Means, Motive, and Opportunity. However, in FEAR CITY Ferrara only shows the manifestation of the killer's violence, and nearly nothing is divulged of his character or motivation. The killer is shown as a mere cipher, and such a depiction is more in keeping with the Horror Genre rather than Detective Fiction. FEAR CITY is certainly not a great film, or even one of Able Ferrar's better efforts, but it is still worthy of a look.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

FEAR CITY (Abel Ferrara, 1984) **

4/10
Author: MARIO GAUCI (marrod@melita.com) from Naxxar, Malta
20 May 2007

This early flick from Abel Ferrara piles on the sleaze as it deals with a group of strippers being hounded by an unknown night-time assailant; from a surprisingly good cast for such cheap exploitation fare, Melanie Griffith scores best as the most popular stripper around, who also happens to be her moody boss (Tom Berenger)'s ex, indulges in a lesbian relationship on the side (with fellow stripper Rae Dawn Chong) and turns into a full-blown junkie when the latter dies at the hands of our good friend, the serial killer. Nice clean family fare, then, right? While the film remains watchable throughout and even has a handful of amusing sequences (most notably when, having been mistaken for the killer, the wrong guy gets beaten up in the kitchen of one of these clubs) and performances (in particular, Michael V. Gazzo as an irascible strip-joint owner), it is seriously damaged by a frankly dull hero (or rather anti-hero, since we're basically talking about an ex-boxer-turned-pimp here) and a very silly villain (a karate expert/fitness freak/budding writer). Billy Dee Williams also stars as an irate cop disgusted by all the squalor around him and Rossano Brazzi turns up for a free plate of pasta as the pre-requisite "respectable" mobster overseeing NYC's underworld. For the record, the film was originally bankrolled by Twentieth-Century Fox but they eventually sold the property to an independent company in view of its objectionable content and a cleaned-up, padded-out version eventually made the rounds on US TV and European videos; also, the actor playing the serial killer remains uncredited to the end, just as the killer's name is never known throughout the film.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

crappo

Author: James Flanagan (va801jlf@gold.ac.uk)
4 October 1999

Abel Ferrara has definitely done better things in his life. But I think this is just the uneasy transition point between the early gritty horror of Ms. 45 and the later high gloss of "King of New York." There are many points at which Ferara has rarely been as outrageous as such as the stabbing of a stripper montaged together with a sexy strip routine. I also think he deserves points for putting half naked women in almost every scene.

But the martial arts fighting serial killer was utterly ridiculous and in the ending fighht scene I didn't see why he had to be so tough if his aim in life was to beat up women half his size and weight.., This was made for cable by the way, they just decided not to air it.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Sub-par effort

4/10
Author: rosscinema from United States
10 April 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I think the reason that a good director like Abel Ferrara made this predictable film was that after making such low budget films he would branch out and make something more commercial. After gaining good notices for the cult hit "Ms.45" Ferrara probably was given an assignment by a decent studio with a decent budget. Well, "Fear City" is a violent and raunchy thriller that goes from being predictable to downright silly! Tom Berenger who is about two years from "Platoon" plays an ex-boxer who along with his pal Jack Scalia run an agency that sends strippers out to work in dance clubs. Unfortunately, they're is also a psycho who is killing strippers and its creating havoc in the clubs. The woman are afraid to work and the cops are coming down hard on the clubs trying to find the killer. Billy Dee Williams plays a cop that is so racist and sleazy that he becomes a cliche'. Melanie Griffith appeared in this film the same year that "Body Double" was released so this was the year that her career really started to blossom. She appears nude here and so does her friend in the film Rae Dawn Chong. There is an abundant of nudity in the film as most scenes take place in the strip clubs. The ending is preposterous as... ***SPOILER ALERT*** I'm about to describe the ending as Tom Berenger gets in shape ala' Rocky and takes on a psycho who knows karate. You can guess the outcome! Good shots of authentic New York locations before that section of the city was cleaned up. Ferrara is a very good director but at that time I think he was just trying for a more mainstream audience and the result is a cheesy thriller. The raunchy settings make it somewhat watchable and seeing these actors in early roles is interesting but its clearly a misfire.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Utterly predictable Ferrara flick with a young Griffith.

4/10
Author: innocuous from Raleigh, NC, USA
11 April 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This may be worthwhile to rent if you're a Melanie Griffith fan, since she's nude in about 40% of her scenes, but the movie leaves a lot to be desired overall.

Much of the tension is supposed to be derived from Berenger's guilt over the outcome of a boxing match several years earlier, but we never really connect with him in this regard. In fact, Berenger's acting is really sub-par here...worse than "Sniper". The idea of personal redemption is there, it's just not realized.

Jack Scalia does a good job with a thankless part. Billy Dee Williams is handed a role with ridiculous dialog and ultimately looks like an idiot when he reverses himself completely in order to express respect for Berenger's character following the "final conflict".

The assorted character actors do a much better job, but they can't make up for the absence of any logical plot progression and realistic dialog.

Finally, unlike some other reviewers, I don't really have any problem with the fact that we never really understand what motivated the murderer. These sorts of answers usually don't come tied up in neat little packages labeled, "Sexually Abused by Father", or "Sister Died at the Hands of a Drunken Physiscian". In the ORIGINAL version of "Two Minute Warning", we never found out why the sniper went a-sniping, which was, in my opinion, an order of magnitude superior to the butchered version with the sub-plot of the burglary thrown in to make sense of it all for the middle-class viewers.

Not recommended to buy or rent, but it may be worth watching if you see it come on the late show and you can't sleep. By the way, the "uncut" version is not substantially different from the other versions, except for a bit more skin.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Fear and confusion fills the nights of New York City.

5/10
Author: lost-in-limbo from the Mad Hatter's tea party.
8 December 2008

It wasn't bad, just disappointing. Director Abel Ferrara pumps up this seamy and hasty thriller with genuine atmosphere of blazing violence and scorching sleaze, but Nicholas St. John's story that accompanies this ambiance is skimpily unfocused by being made-up by a collection of random murders and finally, a preposterous climax. It felt more like a drearily contrived soap-opera at times, but the twist on the vicious killer (a student of martial arts and maybe a writer to boot) was a hard one to grasp. Was there any sort of motivation, and why target certain girls. This is brought up to only become secondary; therefore it never maintains much mystery when it feels like it's actually working up to something. Some amusing moments crop up, and the humour is considerably well-judged especially surrounding actor Michael V. Gazzo.

Ferrara's direction can be slick and racking, but really lacks the adrenaline boost. The sombre look and bleak setting works in passages, and the throbbing soundtrack stays abound. The cast is a dependable lot without receiving standing applause. Tom Berenger gives a hauntingly scared, but assertively low-key performance. Billy Dee Williams adds to the film's fire-belly and Jack Scalia works well along side Berenger. A young Melanie Griffith is mildly okay, emitting a sullen affection and heating it up. Also showing up is Rae Dawn Chong and Joe Santos. As for the guy who plays the killer, it remains a mystery and so does the actor. The script is filled with thick, hardboiled dialogues that grind away, but don't add anything in the way of substance.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Not much is here to grab a hold of character wise

5/10
Author: breakdownthatfilm-blogspot-com from United States
28 December 2012

When it comes to movies that are pure crime thriller in that genre, every component has to be the best. Top notch. And somewhat relative to another crime thriller called Nighthawks (1981), also starring Billy Dee Williams, Fear City (1984) just doesn't seem to add anything new. It is almost equal in entertainment; that is mediocre.

Fear City (1984) is about a couple of individuals that get caught up in the middle of a killer's rampage. The individuals consist of Matt Rossi (Berenger), a retired boxer and his partner Nicky Parzeno (Scalia) who are affiliated with the Italian mob and own their own club where topless dancers are the main attraction. But soon things start to go haywire when a killer starts assaulting Rossi's and Parzeno's girls and then they stop showing up to work.

It's hard to imagine Berenger with an Italian New York accent but he pulls it off okay. Rossi also has a girlfriend who works at his club, Loretta, played by Melanie Griffith. Griffith's character does play a significant role in the story (besides dancing topless) but the fact that there was a subplot that involved her regretting having sex with Rossi was irrelevant. Writer Nicholas St. John probably should have reviewed his script first before filming started. I also didn't understand how the background of Rossi connected to the current plot. It's great that it was included but there was never a clear connection to why he went from boxing to management of clubs.

And for the killer, I don't understand why he was uncredited and if that was the case, why he didn't come out and say anything. His performance, although not spectacular, was the main reason why this whole movie was created! His style of killing was different to see than the usual psychopaths, even though half the time nothing was scene. I also don't understand the logic behind that. The film had some many cuts in it because it was too gory. How gory could it have been? I could sure think of some films that were much more graphic. The Evil Dead (1981) sound familiar?

Also no background was given to the killer and every time he attacked someone, the blade he carried got bigger. First it was a scissors, a few kills later he used a katana sword. Strange. Finally, in the end though, it leads up to a rather entertaining fistfight between Rossi and the killer. Too bad I can't say that for the rest of film.

This crime thriller is directed by Abel Ferrara, who would later go on to direct other more significant thrillers like King of New York (1990) and Body Snatchers (1993). Ferrara's direction of filming in some of the dirtiest looking alleys in the city was a nice touch atmosphere wise. There are also a few comical scenes in this film but that's only because of the time this movie was filmed. Dick Halligan's soundtrack to this film was a little more involving than some others I've heard but it wasn't memorable. It's just a dry thriller.

The script was written with good subplots but it seems to forget how to connect them to the story at hand. See it more for nostalgia of a young Tom Berenger.

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