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us title: The New York Ripper
italian title: Lo squartatore di New York
year: 1982
director: Lucio Fulci
composer: Francesco De Masi
full details: IMDB
overall score: 71

Bottom Line: Must-See
A quintessential example of the genre.

WARNING: Spoilers Below

score analysis

Love him or hate him, Lucio Fulci's films cannot be ignored. After helping to kick start the Giallo movement in the early 1970s with 3 very well made films, Fulci diverged into other sub genres and eventually found his sweet spot within supernatural horror. But in 1982, in what could arguably be a reaction to his own outlandish fantasy zombie films, Fulci returned to the Giallo genre with his gritty and hyper-realistic New York Ripper.

Ripper is a film that divides most fans of the genre (as well as Fulci fans). Never before had the director produced a film with such realistic graphic violence and misogyny. And while the film might not be any gorier than its horror predecessors, the absence of the supernatural element emphasizes the brutality of the murder scenes. For this reason, Ripper remains one of Fulci's most notorious films.

The story follows the typical "killer is on the loose" Giallo narrative, but the stylish locations, set designs and fashions that came to be associated with the genre are eschewed in favor of an overall nihilistic visual palette. This is not to say that the film isn't visually stylish. Fulci utilizes the sinister atmosphere of New York City to create some spectacular suspense sequences. Of particular note is the subway scene where Mickey Scellenda stalks Fay Majors and the murder of Eva the sex show performer in what is obviously an homage to Argento's Suspiria.

The film performs fairly well on the Giallo Score for a film that takes place in New York City in the 1980s. In some ways the film is more of a police procedural, but overall the emphasis on stalking and the detailed murder sequences (not to mention the killer's ridiculous motive) clearly puts the film in the Giallo category.

Ripper loses its effectiveness in the final act, primarily because there aren't enough suspects for the viewer to care about the mystery. By the time Mickey Scellenda's body is found, there are only 15 minutes left in the film and no time to introduce any more characters. Clearly the murder isn't Lt. Williams and it's doubtful that Dr. Davis is involved in any way either. So there's really only one character left to focus on.

Despite all of these shortcomings and notorious reputation, I find New York Ripper to be extremely watchable. This is likely due to its pacing but it's also interesting to see Fulci working his magic in a style that is so atypical for him. It's not a party Giallo by any means, and certainly not a film I would recommend to someone primarily interested in the lighter side of the genre. But it remains an important film in the history of the genre and definitely offers some entertainment value if you're in the right mood.

On a side note, I really like the main musical theme of the film and its many variants. It's a simple melody that is clearly influenced by 1980s American Detective TV, but it's very catchy and stays with you long after the movie is over. 

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score breakdown

Hint: Hover over a score item for more details
Staples : 45/60
Italian Director10 points
Hidden Identity10 points
Amateur Detective5 points
Motivation: Psychological Trauma/Revenge10 points
Avoid Capture: Killed by Police or other character5 points
Director > 15 points
Standards : 20/30
Body Count >= 34 points
Flashback Revelation3 points
Mistaken Identity2 points
Nude Scene >= 13 points
Suspects >= 34 points
Urban Location4 points
Signatures : 6/10
Dolls/Dummies1 point
Gay/Lesbian1 point
Pathologist1 point
Psychologist1 point
Spiral Stairs1 point
Taunting1 point
Total Points : 71/100



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Published: 2015-03-23