Tuesday, 28 October 2014

31 Days of Horror: The New York Ripper (Lo Squartatore di New York) (1982)

The New York Ripper (Lo Squartatore di New York) (1982)
Director: Lucio Fulci
Starring: Jack Hedley, Almanta Suska, and Howard Ross
Running Time: 93 min

Ah, Lucio Fulci.  I have serious love/hate thing for this director.  He can come up with some of the most gruesome scenes in the world but sometimes I find his stories are just so disjointed that they are completely maddening to watch.  I've seen most of his "classic" films and some of them I love, like "Zombie (aka Zombi 2)" and "Don't Torture A Duckling" but I find some of his other films that are lacking any linear & cohesiveness to them.  Hopefully this will put me in a New York Groove.

An old man is walking his dog, along the East River in New York City and the dog finds a human hand.  So, Lieutenant Fred Williams takes on the case and identifies the hand belonging to a dead prostitute named Ann-Lynne.  Back at the station, he interviews the victims nosy old landlady and discovers that the last person Ann-Lynne was talking to was a man who sounded like Donald Duck.  Disney should be proud.
  Across town, while a ditzy female bicyclist heads down to the ferry, she loses control of her bike and scrapes the side of a car.  She apologizes but the man is still upset and tries cursing her out, so like any good cyclist,  she just shrugs her shoulders and bikes away.  Once on the ferry, she locates the car that she scraped and decides to get some justice for the driver being upset with her.  Although it was her fault.  Anyway, she gets in his car and using her lipsticks starts to leave a message on his windshield.  However, she is stopped by the duck voiced killer and is mutilated.  Lt. Williams is not happy about this and goes across town to gets help from a pathologist, Barry Jones who helps him link this killing to the Ann-Lynne murder.
  That night a mysterious man with two fingers takes in a sex show, and sitting across from him is a beautiful lady who is recording the sounds of the live sex act and pawing at herself.  When the couple on the stage finish, the man notices that his sexy friend down the aisle has disappeared.  As for the actress(?)/woman who was just on stage having sex, she arrives back stage to a dark dressing room and is murdered and cursed at by a duck voice.  However after this killing, the duck voiced killer calls Lt. Williams at his prostitute girlfriend's apartment and informs him that there will be more killings.
  The next night, a young woman, Fay sees a mysterious man with two fingers on the subway.  She thinks he's creepy and tries to change cars but the door is jammed, so she decides to gets off the train.  She sees that he man gets off as well and she runs away scared for her life.  She ends up in a dark alley being slashed by the killer.  Luckily, she survives and wakes up in the hospital.  Fay believes that it was this man with two fingers that attacked her, and her boyfriend encourages the police to go and get him.  Can Lt. Williams find this killer before he strikes again or has the New York Police department finally met their match in this duck sounding villain?

  This wasn't too bad and was pretty coherent most of the way through the film.  Fulci for the most part, follows the main characters and he builds up a good giallo picture, touching on a number of interesting suspects throughout the film.  He gives these secondary characters, like Jane, the girl who records the sounds of sex acts, the two finger man, and even the Barry Jones, who is helping the police investigation different motives and opportunity to commit the crime and you never know who the killer could be until the very end.
  Also, the gore in this is pretty remarkable and well done.  These are gruesome scenes that Fulci concocts and are extremely chilling to watch.  He has a plethora of violence like evisceration, eyeball gouging and even throws in some nipples getting cut off.  He truly was a a master of gore and this film is another example of his twisted talent.

  Issues with the film, well the story does start to go off the rails at the near the end.  **SPOILER**  Like in a lot of Fulci films that I've seen, he bombards you with new characters and information about the existing characters at the very end of the film.  It seems that he withholds this information, so you don't suspect who the killer is but then he leaves you scratching your head and thinking wtf?  There is a difference between a well done reveal in a movie and just shoehorning information in suit the purposes of a surprise at the end.  It has the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the groin.  Also, the reasoning and motivation for the killer is pretty weak and this is what frustrates me with some of Fulci's work.  There is no mention or build up and even the character closest to the killer seemed surprised by some of these revelations.  As well as there is a definite downer ending, even though they have caught the killer, they seem to leave his/her motivation both scared and alone. **ENDSPOILER**
  Also there is a lot of nudity and sex stuff in the film.  This doesn't really bother me because it works in this sleazy world that Fulci depicts and fits in perfectly with the story that he is trying to create.  However, many countries did have an issue with the "adultness" aspects of this film and have banned it or had it heavily censored, removing the naughty bits out.  The film's first uncut version wasn't released until twelve years later and in Holland on laser disc.  Even in 2002, the UK still hadn't released a full version of the film bu luckily in more recent years, Anchor Bay and Blue Underground have released full versions of the film on DVD and Blu-ray.

  This is an alright film if you're looking to get into more of Fulci's catalouge after you've seen Zombie.  The story is somewhat decent with an interesting mystery and there is a lot of nasty gore.  Not my favourite but it has it's moment and it's certainly not my least favourite of his films.

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