New York Ripper (1982)

aka Los Squartatore di New York
Article 2589 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-7-2008
Posting Date: 9-14-2008
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Featuring Jack Hedley, Almanta Suska, Howard Ross
Country: Italy

A vicious serial killer is loose in New York. A policeman teams up with a psychoanalyst to catch him. Their main clue is that the killer talks like a duck when he’s killing.

There are landmark moments in my progress through this whole series of movies I’m covering, and this is one of them. This is not to say that it’s the first Lucio Fulci movie I’ve seen, but it’s the first one I’ve seen in which he’s in his full-throttle gore mode. There is something of a split in critical views of Fulci’s work; some find his movies fascinating and stylistically rich, others find them sickeningly repellant. There’s no doubt about it – the gory violence in this movie is intense and nasty; in fact, it shows up most of the slasher flicks of the era for the cartoons which they (in one sense) are. The violence is so nasty that it allows the movie to get away with its bizarrest touch; having the killer talk like a duck would be laughable if the killings weren’t so stomach-churning. I’m less impressed with the cliched plot (with the killer taunting a cop, a comic relief doctor performing the autopsies, the cop hooking up with a younger man to help solve the murders, etc.), and I guessed who the killer was long before anyone in the movie does. I also don’t find the movie particularly interesting in a stylistic sense, and the attempts at pathos near the end of the movie feel forced and ineffectual. This pretty much leaves the gore and the nastiness as the primary appeal, and these will certainly not be to everyone’s taste. Me, I recognize the power of what he’s doing, but I’m not sure the nastiness ever really becomes more than just that. Still, I’ll have other opportunities to deal with it, I’m sure.



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