★★★out of ★★★★★
Oh Lucio Fulci is there anything you can’t do?
Between the hacking, the slashing, the stabbing, the cutting, and the poking you’ve really covered it all so well. It’s almost kind of an art. And we guarantee that you’ve never seen anything like Fulci-stabbing and you probably never will. In his 1982 classic, the New York Ripper (AKA: Lo squartatore di New York) Fulci was really at the top of his game and the stabbing and cutting was at its stabbiest.
In the most meta of all meta film approaches Fulci films a grindhouse film about the ol’ 42nd avenue, and features stabbing and slicing in grindhouses! Prescient or not, Fucli smartly saw that 42nd avenue and the grindhouse vibe was so dirty, sleazy, and terrifying that there was no need for the trappings of Hollywood, set design, or location scouts. Just take a sleazy bookstore, add lovely ladies, and get to the stabbing. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
The New York Ripper isn’t a particularly complex film, but it’s not exactly simple either. The film follows a grizzled old NYC detective (perfectly played by Jack Hadley) forced to follow the clumsy tracks of a duck-voiced killer with a penchant for stabbing and cutting the ladies. Because of the odd and brutal nature of the killings Detective Williams decides to enlist a genius to help build a profile for the duck-voiced killer. Of course a genius! They always make things better.
The killings get more twisted and more grindhouse-y. Convinced that the killer is a local pervert with a strange malformation — he’s missing two fingers. As an aside, in the pre-digital age, this was a significant feat and it looked pretty darn real. Or at least, real by 1982 standards. But there’s a problem, the sleazy grindhouse killer is pretty dumb. He’s addicted to porn and the drugs, and he’s not much for the complex and devious planning of the New York Ripper. The Ripper, you see, is a criminal genius — hence the need to hire a genius to fight the genius of the first genius.
Detective Williams and his genius sidekick eventually close in on the New York Ripper, but not before more stabbing and cutting. Williams eventually gets his man, saves the girl, or at least a couple girls, and in a super gnarly ending actually blows the New York Ripper’s head clean off. We won’t spoil the motivation for the New York Ripper’s killing spree, his duck voice, or even who he is, but we will tell you he is a he.
Trust us, this is some really gross stabbing and cutting, not for the faint of heart, and not a gateway kind of film. So dark and so grind house-y that a BBC reviewer actually said to the New York Ripper that the film was “simply the most damaging film I have ever seen in my whole life” and “a relentless catalogue of the eponymous antihero/villain cutting women up.” Obviously 42nd street still exists, but its once-sticky sheen has been washed clean and replaced with Starbucks, Apple Stores, and H&M. If you’re really pining for the days when sleaze was sleaze and 42nd was vomit-inducing then the New York Ripper is for YOU!