Sunday, July 17, 2011

FEAR CITY (1984) - Abel Ferrara


Fear City isn't really an action movie in the truest sense. I'm still not sure what it IS exactly. Neo-noir? Maybe. Abel Ferrara's worst film? Perhaps. Mid-80s sleaze at its most ridiculous? Without a doubt. Fear City concerns a serial slasher stalking Times Square and cutting up strippers. I say "serial slasher" because he frequently doesn't kill them, just slices a new smile in their foreheads and lets them go. Also, he knows karate and is writing a novel called (you guessed it) "Fear City" in his spare time.

Tom Berenger plays a stripper's manager, also an ex-boxer who beat some guy to death in the ring. For some reason, the only way he can figure out who's killing his girls is to rent a room in a seedy by-the-hour hotel near the end of the movie and practice shadow boxing in front of a mirror. I know NYC apartments are small, but couldn't he have done this in his own second floor railroad walk-up? There's Rae Dawn Chong as a lesbian stripper and "Maria Conchita" (sans the "Alonso)" as the straight, more vocal one. Poor Melanie Griffith gets the shortest straw here as Berenger's ex-flame. She has a raging heroin addiction that, for some reason, only seems to rear its ugly head after she's slept with Berenger again. Is there a connection?

Billy Dee Williams makes out the best of the bunch as a vice cop. Unlike Nighthawks, this time he gets to belt out gloriously un-PC lines like "Keep the pussy off the bar" (referring to a stripper dancing in the service area) and "There's nothing more I hate than when guineas drive Cadillacs." Also, he doesn't have to know kung-fu, as he gets to hold the gun.

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