Thursday, February 24, 2011

THE NEW YORK RIPPER (1982) - Lucio Fulci

When a movie begins with a game of fetch by the East River in which a Golden Retriever returns with a severed fist instead of a stick, you know you are (excuse the pun) in solid directorial hands. Not since DePalma's Body Double have I seen an '80s slasher film so gleefully perverse, so willing to mix sex and violence for shock and humor and do it so well. This is a sick, twisted movie that knows it is sick and twisted. Case in point: its eponymous killer who talks like Donald Duck.

The story is basic serial killer schmaltz that by this time in the '80s was already the bread and butter of the horror/exploitation racket. It's the wacko set pieces, skeezy NYC location shooting and seedy city characters that give The New York Ripper its nostalgic NYC grindhouse gleam. When's the last time you've heard of someone killed by razor blade in a parked car on the actual Staten Island Ferry?

Or the last time subway interiors all looked like this?

Or the last time Times Square marquees looked like this?

Or the last time its theaters featured shows like the below?

No character, exterior or interior is immune to Fulci's dirty-old-man lens in this film. Even the hero cop who pursues the woman-hating Ripper beds down nightly with prostitutes. You can thank the City of New York for bringing out the best and worst in Lucio Fulci. He even managed to turn this shock-weary viewer's stomach with possibly the most repulsive game of footsie ever committed to celluloid (see below). Whether it's severed hands or playful feet, Fulci has all the major extremities covered in The New York Ripper. The man was an exploitation genius and one very sick puppy.

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