NEW YORK RIPPER
Lucio Fulci is no shy-guy director. Always more than willing to serve up all the sleaze the audience can stomach and then some, Lucio takes his no holds barred gun-ho gore maestro style and applies it to the guess-who giallo genre in a little dish called New York Ripper. If the New York Ripper had a common thread it’s the focus on the desecration of the female body, mind, and spirit. Nearly every scene dregs up some imagery of a woman getting violated, marginalized, or dismembered; the camera settles on each offense without a hint of reproach. One can imagine a swarthy grinning Fulci in the director’s chair, mouth spread in a toothy Cheshire cat grin, inwardly laughing at the audience in his mind’s eye, writhing in their seats at each proceeding offense more ghastly and gut wrenching than the last.
If you break down the movie into its pieces it’d be impossible to imagine how this cyclone of slime could all fit together. There’s a foot rape scene, a subplot about the hunt for a 42nd street jiggalo who’s missing two fingers, the sexual debauchery of a married couple that get their jollies recording live smut shows, and a killer with a duck voice. The title is a freeze frame of a dog holding a badly decomposed severed hand in its mouth after playing fetch-the-body with its owner; which should be indicative of the kind of creep-around-the-seat-with-your-ass-cheeks images that Fulci will be pounding us over the head with like an Acme anvil for the next hundred odd minutes. This is a movie where razors fly through the air making airplane noises before severing a woman’s nipple in half; trailing up the body through her soft, plump eyeballs as if moving on its own sadistic accord. This is where forensic scientists crack lines like “He used a blade…stuck it up her joy trail”, women are called “chicken brains”, and detectives are too grizzled to look like they’re interested in anything, even sexy time explosion. And the hits will keep coming; whenever you think things have hit a lull Fucli is around the corner to hit you over the cantaloupe with his trusty bag of barf; like a prayer answered by the gods of grunge.
In the end, after all the shit is done hitting the blender and all the sleaze cinema thrills have sequestered, Fulci reminds us that real life horror is more tragic and terrifying than anything he can conjure up for cheap thrills; a young girl, fatally ill, calls out to a father who will never come back again. Feeling abandoned by all she once loved, sitting on death’s door, she weeps and we are left with the image of innocence completely chewed up by real world circumstance, innocence that never even had a chance to live. It’s a tragedy deeper and a horror more profound than anything in the movie preceding it and left me feeling exhausted and empty; exactly the kind of gut punch a horror movie should deliver.