Sunday, May 28, 2006

The New York Ripper (1982)

Lucio Fulci's notorious slasher flick, in a sense, is the rare movie that lives up to its vicious reputation. The murder setpieces in this film are mean and nasty, with the highlight (lowlight?) being the scene in which the title fiend bisects a woman's nipple in extreme closeup. There's things here that are guaranteed to make you flinch. That brief reaction, though, is about all that will happen to you, since Fulci allows so much dissonant material to creep into his work that the effect is stymying. How, for instance, am I as a viewer supposed to react to the killer's duck voice? There's a scene where a stripper is killed by having a broken bottle shoved into her naughty bits, and as she's screaming and crying and bleeding all over the place, the killer is quacking and giggling like he's Donald goddamn Duck. The cumulative effect is off-putting and weird -- I don't know whether to laugh, get offended or become horrified, so the only thoughts that cut through the mass of conflicting information is "I wonder if the menstrual symbolism is intended" and "Does it say something about my viewing habits that this isn't the first Italian horror film I've seen that has young women killed with sharp objects to their crotches?" If Fulci were a better filmmaker, I'd say that he intended this contrast to defuse the theoretical misogyny at his film's heart; however, my experience with Fulci's filmmaking style tells me he's just a lunatic who thinks these things really should go together. Beyond that mental-gymnastic fodder, this film's pretty worthless -- Fulci's zombie epics excuse their lack of logic and credibility via their hallucinatory nightmarishness, but this is just stupid. And not stupid in a mesmeric way like Argento's gialli, just garden-variety dumb.

Grade: C


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