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The New York Ripper (July 5/02)

Lucio Fulci, the director of The New York Ripper, is known for his outlandish and completely over-the-top scenes of gore. But they're usually put in a context that's absurd to begin with, which generally makes his films enjoyable guilty pleasures. But with this film, Fulci's brought his sensibilities to a relatively realistic storyline - a move that fails pretty much on every level.

The movie takes place in New York City (where else?) and a crazed lunatic is murdering women in incredibly brutal ways. The only clue that the police have to go on is the fact that the killer speaks with a duck voice (I kid you not). Heading the case is a grizzled detective (how grizzled? He indulges virtually every vice you can think of, from excessive drinking to patronizing prostitutes), who spends most of his time chasing down dead-end leads and interrogating suspects who wind up having nothing to do with the case. Meanwhile, a woman who survived an attack by the Ripper finds herself getting closer to discovering his identity, and it just might be someone she knows.

Though it's one of those cult movies with a loyal following, I couldn't find a single thing worth recommending about The New York Ripper. The acting is bad, the dubbing atrocious, and the dialogue is even worse. The movie is seemingly just one long excuse to go from one over-the-top sequence of gore to the next. And unlike some of Fulci's other flicks (The City of the Living Dead, for example), the gore here is extremely unpleasant to watch and is often times fairly disgusting. There's a killing late in the movie that features a woman being slowly murdered with a razor blade. We watch as the blade cuts through her body, with close-ups of her eye and nipple. Now, I don't know how much of a sadomasochist you'd have to be to get off on watching something like that, but it certainly didn't appeal to me. And I'm no prude when it comes to these kinds of things, either. That head drilling sequence from The City of the Living Dead is classic. This is just gross.

It doesn't help that the film surrounding the gore sequences is really terrible. A good portion of the dialogue here is laughable, and all of it is dubbed - badly. If you thought some of those old chop socky flicks were badly dubbed over, you haven't seen anything yet. And the performances are even worse, and I didn't necessarily mind the whole killer-that-sounds-like-a-duck thing (it just made anything he said impossible to understand, but that's not the fault of the film). So, essentially, what you have is a flick that excels in showing brutality but absolutely no idea in how to create characters worth caring about, a storyline worth following, or dialogue that isn't laughable.

Like most of Fulci's films, you'll either love or hate The New York Ripper. I suppose in the right frame of mind (ie with a bunch of friends and copious amounts of liquor present), the movie could be enjoyable. But really, there are far better giallo flicks to watch, including a fair number by Fulci himself.

out of

© David Nusair