The New York Ripper

12/06/2019 06:19

Film: The New York Ripper (Lo squartatore di New York)

Year: 1982

Director: Lucio Fulci

Writer: Gianfranco Clerici, Vincenzo Mannino, Lucio Fulci and Dardano Sacchetti

Starring: Jack Hedley, Almanta Suska and Howard Ross



This was a film that I heard about on podcasts and I’m not going to lie, it sounded intriguing. If you’ve read some of my past reviews, I have experience with co-writer/director Lucio Fulci through his ‘Gates of Hell’ trilogy as well as Zombie. When I saw my theater randomly had a 4K showing of this film, I had to take advantage, making my first viewing on the big screen. The synopsis is a burned-out New York police detective teams up with a college psychoanalyst to track down a vicious serial killer randomly stalking and killing various young women around the city.

We start this off with a man walking this dog down by the river. He decides to start playing fetch, but it takes a turn when the dog brings back a hand from the bushes instead of the stick. It then shifts to the police department that is handling the case. The detective in charge is Lt. Fred Williams (Jack Hedley). To help identify the victim, her landlady Mrs. Weissburger (Babette New) comes to the station. She confirms that was the girl who lived there and that she was a model. She does reveal that she heard someone schedule a shoot with her, but the person was talking in a duck voice, in the vein of Donald Duck.

The film then shifts to the next victim. We see a woman riding her bicycle to the Stanton Island Ferry. She is Rosie (Cinzia de Ponti). She has a run in with a man in a car when she accidently hits it with her handlebars. On the ferry, the man gets out of his vehicle and she decides to leave a message in lipstick on the windshield. As she does though, someone speaking the duck voice kills her in the car. This same person also leaves a message for Lt. Williams at the station. He can’t quite remember where he heard the duck voice, but that’s how the person talked.

It then shifts to Mickey Scellenda (Howard Ross) as he is walking down the red light district. We see that he’s missing two fingers on his right hand. He goes into a sex shop to watch a live performance. Also there is Jane Forrester Lodge (Alexandra Delli Colli). We see she is recording the sound of the performance. She disappears after it is over as does Mickey. Eva (Zora Kerova), the female performer, goes to her dressing room where she is killed. Lt. Williams then gets a call at Kitty’s (Daniela Doria) apartment. She is a prostitute that he frequents and he doesn’t know how the killer knew he’d be there.

While on a subway, Fay Majors (Almanta Suska) notices Mickey. He spooks her and she runs away. When she leaves the station, she is attacked by the gloved killer. She is slashed, but gets away. Fay wakes up to her boyfriend, Peter Bunch (Andrea Occhipinti) visiting her in the hospital. How are all of these people connected and who is this weird voiced killer? Lt. Williams also seeks out the aid of Dr. Paul Davis (Paolo Malco) to give him a profile of who the killer is. They work together to solve this.

Something that I knew coming into to seeing this was that this is one of Fucli’s sleazier giallo films. I have to say that it definitely lived up to that. I have to give him credit though, he and his co-writers did an excellent job of keeping me guessing who the killer was until the reveal. As someone who loves the story of films, a good giallo for me is when that happens.

Going from there, we get a lot of red herrings as to who it could be and that works for me. We see that Mickey is the prime suspect. He is at the scene of three of the murders and he just has a rough look about him. Jane is an interesting one too, because she is secretive and we see that by normal standards, she is a sexual deviant. That’s seen when she goes to a shady pool hall and has a run-in with Morales (Antone Pagán) and Chico (Josh Cruze). You can also make a case for Peter, Dr. Davis and even Fay herself with a reveal later on.

This killer is also an intriguing one. I got early on there has to be some kind of cognitive dissonance due to talking like Donald Duck. They also are targeting women who are a bit promiscuous or doing things that are bad. It does seem a bit of a superiority complex and to punish them. It is a bit misogynistic, which I think makes us dislike the killer even more.

I want to shift this to the pacing of the film. I think that the running time works for the mystery that is being laid out. I never found myself bored as I’m trying to look for clues, plus we get the murders spaced out in a way that keeps you satisfied there. It is also edited in a way where I kept questioning who I thought the killer was and I’ll admit, I didn’t get it right. The ending really worked for me, as it is actually kind of sad and kind of mean-spirited.

That takes me to the acting, which I have to say isn’t great, but works. Hedley though is spot on. I like that he’s a little bit older and jaded. I think that works to inspire him to solve this murder. Suska is quite attractive and I liked her character. There is an interesting reveal in her back-story for me. The same can be said for Occhipinti. Ross plays this pretty stoic, but I think that is needed here. Colli brings a lot of suspicious activity here. We also get to see her nude as well as the other victims, which I can’t complain about. Malco is solid in his performance and rounds out the film with the rest of the cast as well.

To the effects of the film, if there is one thing that I can bank on for a Fucli film. They look great here to be honest. We get a lot of blood and some vicious murders scenes. What I find intriguing is that they mostly killed in the say way, where the cuts are around the breast and the navel as well. There is also an eye scene that made me cringe along with a gunshot that is pretty brutal. The film is also shot very well.

The final thing to cover would the soundtrack. I’ve actually heard the theme song here a lot thanks to a podcast and I love it. We get to hear a couple of variations of it throughout the movie, so I did enjoy that. I will say there were a couple of times that we got where the score didn’t necessarily work for me. It doesn’t ruin the film, but it does take my score of the soundtrack down slightly with those missteps.

With that said though, I had a blast with this sleazy giallo film. I think that it has an interesting killer with some really good death scenes. I think that the acting really helps bring this to life and it is edited in a way where I never got bored, I wanted to know more and trying to guess who the killer was. The ending is pretty mean-spirited and brutal, which I can get down for. There’s a ton of nudity here. The effects look amazing and the soundtrack is pretty solid on the whole, with the theme song being one of my favorites. I don’t think this is for everyone, but if you want to see a bloody, police procedural, mystery, definitely give this one a viewing.


My Rating: 8 out of 10