Lucio Fulci has given horror fans plenty to choose from over the years, some of it great and some of it not so great. Personally, I'll always be a fan of his ever since I fell in love with the mist-laden atmosphere of City Of The Living Dead AKA Gates Of Hell. Then I saw The Beyond. Well, I though that the man could do no wrong. Then I saw The House By The Cemetery. If you're reading this and you're a fan of The House By The Cemetery then don't get yourself in a rage just now, I believe my first and only viewing of the movie was a butchered VHS release back in the early 90s so I'm definitely going to revisit it now that it's been given a shiny overhaul. But that viewing did show me that Fulci wasn't perfect and as I got to know more and more horror fans around the world I quickly learned that opinions of the man ranged from horror maestro to past master who lost his way to misogynistic hack. Despite the misses mixed in with the hits, I still like to think of him as a real master of the genre.
Which brings us to The New York Ripper, not necessarily a masterpiece of a film but certainly one of the more, deservedly, notorious titles to be affected by the big Video Nasty nonsense in the 1980s and even beyond. It's a very, very nasty movie, there's no denying it, with some horrific violence towards women and a real atmosphere of sleaze. Yet I'd also have to say that it's an enjoyable, unflinching horror that's part time capsule, part psychobabble and all Euroschlock. Directed by Fulci, who also helped to write the thing, it's not up there with his very best work (already mentioned above) but it's very good.
One of many movies made at this time showing New York inhabited by a bunch of Italian actors, there's no point in discussing the quality of the performances or dialogue here. Let's face it, these factors are not the best things that the movie has to offer.
The slim plot revolves around a killer who targets women and kills them in brutal and specific ways. The killer seems to resent the fact that the victims ARE women and will often mutilate their breast or vaginal area (one scene involving a broken bottle was still strong enough to make me flinch thirty years after the movie was initially released). Lt. Fred Williams (Jack Hedley) is the man determined to catch this killer, a determination strengthened by mocking phone calls in which the killer talks in a duck-like manner. And when Fay Majors (Almanta Keller) attracts the attention of the killer how long does she have left to live?
There's every chance that this might offend you, it's certainly not the kind of horror movie to put on if you're trying to win over a newcomer to the genre, but you have to admire Fulci for going as far as he does. The rest of the movie may not be up to much but the death scenes are uncomfortable and well realised while the taunting of the police by the strange voice of the killer works fairly well.
If you want to pick apart this movie then it's all too easy (the bad dialogue, the poor supporting characters, etc) but if you're willing to overlook the lack of polish on the surface then you'll see a harsh and violent thriller/horror that really lives up to its title.
The region-free Bluray is available here -