Sometimes, in between watching kids movies and Academy Award-winning dramas and smart thrillers, you just want to watch some good ole fashioned gore-filled, sex-crazy schlock. Such was my case when viewing Lucio Fulci’s sleazy slasher flick, The New York Ripper. This is the sort of movie that, if you were to watch with your girlfriend, you may just find yourself with a kick in the balls and a quick “Fuck off”. Every chance Fulci gets, there is another sex scene or unnecessary amount of nudity, coupled with enough blood and gore effects to make Bruce Campbell feel uneasy. However, I’m getting ahead of myself…
The story is simple enough: in New York City (surprise, surprise), a killer is on the loose, ripping (oh!) young girls apart one by one—and only a sinful but still good-natured detective can stop him! Or at least figure out his identity. Anyone can stop him, really. What is interesting about this killer however; is that he possesses a very unconventional trait—he talks like Donald Duck. So, with a ripping and a quacking he does go, taking out sick vengeance for no real good reason other than that it looks cool.
The big draw of The New York Ripper is the abundance of gore—from a broken bottle in a stripper’s vagina to a surprisingly realistic slicing of a hooker’s nipple, it all added to its cult success and international banning. Another big draw, especially for the horny male audience, is the insane amount of sexuality in the film. Early on, two members of the supporting cast enter a strip joint in the Red Light District to watch for about five minutes while two performers have sex on stage—not only that, but the female supporting cast member starts masturbating in her seat! I am certainly not complaining, it definitely adds to the grittiness of the film, but it is just not something one sees in everyday cinema.
Like many giallo films, The New York Ripper does not exactly make a whole damn lot of sense. By the end, you will probably be asking yourself a few questions about the killer, and even wonder about a certain final shot that I dare not mention. Plus, a vital plot device is left out until the very end, leaving you to haphazard a guess. Still, that guess is likely to be right, as the red herring of the film falls flat and allows you to quickly narrow the choices down to one of two suspects.
Unfortunately, where many giallo films succeed in the score department, Francesco De Masi’s work here is just an average, sometimes far too generic composition. This, along with the lack of a very original story and dialogue that sometimes works and sometimes totally fails (a New York taxi driver saying “You’ve got the brains of a chicken!” for example), gives the film plenty of downfalls to keep it from being Fulci’s best work, but it still manages to gain sufficient merit as a gore classic that should be on the list of most if not all slasher fans.