Combining The 42nd Street nihilism of Bill Lustig’s New York giallo wannabe slasher Maniac and the worst excesses of late 70s Italo-horror, the New York Ripper is, legendary Italian auteur, Lucio Fulci at his sleaziest and most perverse. It is a film that appears to revel in the violence that is largely dealt out to women in increasingly vicious and repulsive ways. This is a film that both compels and repels throughout its 90 minute running time. From its depiction of live sex joints, sexual assault by toe, gay pornography stashed furtively inside a newspaper, S&M, a prostitute’s tawdry dive, through its general air of vice and sadism, New York Ripper hacks and slashes its way to a downbeat and bleak ending.
The New York Ripper lacks the 60s swing of Perversion Story, the out there stylistics of A Lizard In A Woman’s Skin or the starched rural pessimism of Don’t Torture A Duckling, Fulci’s earlier gialli. It even lacks the phantasmagoric avant-gore that imbued his Living Dead trilogy with such vitality. What it does have is a vicious, cheap and gritty appeal, including some especially crude and in your face gore. The barely disguised, and downright offensive, misogyny makes it a hard film to like or even enjoy.
The New York Ripper stars a stellar (and familiar) cast of late 70s/early 80s Eurocult talent including an appallingly dubbed Jack Hedley (Colditz), Zora Kerova (Cannibal Ferox), Howard Ross (Behind Convent Walls), Alexandra Delli Colli (Zombie Holocaust), Paolo Malco (House By The Cemetery) and Andrea Occhipinti (A Blade In The Dark). The combination of New York locations and Italian B-movie stars no longer adds glamorous cultural mish mash but race to the gutter despondency. And despite being made in the 80s, it has the feel of a 70s off cut. Taking all of this account, the New York Ripper, still has a brutal and depraved charm, and despite the years has retained its very nasty edge. It certainly isn’t a film you take home to meet your mother, not unless she happens to be one of the characters in the film.