Lucio Fulci strayed from his "gothic" period to make this controversial giallo about a killer preying on the young and beautiful women of New York City. Detective Fred Williams (Hedley) and Psychiatrist Paul Davis (Fulci fave, Paolo Malco) join forces to track the psychopath down before he strikes again.
In a nutshell, that's the movie. It's not the most complex bit of filmmaking, but, you know what? I liked it! Yeah, it's a sadistic and misogynistic T&A fest, and sure the violence is beyond the realms of good, bad, or even indifferent taste, but I really just had fun with this one.
I think the thing that appealed to me most was Fulci's "fuck you" attitude when he made this movie. He was under fire for making such violent fare, and when he began shooting Ripper, many woman's rights groups protested the director, not only for his films, but for the films of his peers and their treatment of women. Fulci's answer to them was an unflinching and uncompromising slaughter fest that made gialli prior to this look like a Charlie Brown Christmas Special. Go Fulci Go!
Ripper is one of the few films that actually makes me squirm, and I'd put this head to head with Cannibal Ferox any day. Sure you get a woman hung by hooks from each breast in Ferox, but in ripper you get an extreme close up of a breast being cut in half, and man, its fucking repellent! Add to that the killers M.O. of slicing his victims from the vagina to the breast bone, a broken bottle penetration, and enough slicing and dicing to make Argento blush and you can understand why the UK has banned this film since 1984.
Another thing you just have to love is the way the movie plays out when the killer isn't part of the action. It's got this 1970's cop show vibe, with music straight out of Kojak, and Fulci's New Yorkers are a hoot. Everyone is a slime- ball, drug dealer, rapist, or hooker. Even the hero spends his nights sleeping with a prostitute! How's that for an ugly American? The fact that Fulci couldn't afford the permits to shoot anything in Manhattan actually does the film a favor. The lack of familiar monuments and buildings make for an even less glamorous vision of New York and makes the film that much more repulsive.
So, am I recommending New York Ripper because it's an abomination? Well, yes and no. I think it's a fun giallo, with a pretty decent mystery, a lot of laughs, both intentional and unintentional, and, well, it's all about pushing the envelope in this one, and Fulci did just that!
Anchor Bay shot this one out with a pretty grimey transfer, but I doubt that the film ever looked better than this. The sound mix is fair for what it is, and we get that same ol' Fulci bio we've gotten in every one of the master's Anchor Bay releases . From what I've read, this was not a very happy production, so behind the scenes footage and the like were most likely tossed when Fulci came to his senses, and the lack of it here is of no surprise.
Basically, I recommend this one because it's good fun for strong stomachs, and, most importantly, it's Lucio's one fingered salute to the critics and censors everywhere. Never piss of an Italian with a fetish for eyeball gouging!