Gialloween Day 1: The New York Ripper
The New York Ripper uses a basic cop/consultant-find-the-killer blueprint to deliver one of the most misanthropic, sleazy giallo in the genre. The backdrop of early 80s New York is like a character itself. Shots of ugly buildings, vandalized subways, and an endless sea of XXX billboards elevate the film to something a bit more than standard schlock fare.
Fulci does not hold back in this film. Because most of the conflict happens around the heyday of 42nd street, we are treated to a plethora of steamy moments. Full body nudity, voyeuristic sex shows, and a restaurant scene that does not tip toe around audience expectations, will be highlights for fans of cinema sleaze.
Fulci seems more than delighted to creatively depict the many ways in which the killer uses objects to ‘rip’ their victims. As the death scenes get more intense and gory it begins to feel like the camera is lingering on them a little too long. Some scenes use a POV camera angle from the killer’s perspective to enhance this effect. When these death scenes are coupled with the many lines of dialogue that spout misogynistic things towards women, it makes one wonder if this film accurately reflects Fulci himself. Revealing or not, the visceral nature of the deaths hold up well and are still able to shock today.
The film’s score thankfully, is pretty bouncy and light despite its subject matter. Definitely leaning more towards sexy sleaziness than vile and foreboding, the bright brass, flange guitars, and plucky bass provide a good balance to the film’s darker moments. The main theme is an especially jaunty tune, almost like a jingle you’d hear on the nightly news. Perhaps done to ground the film’s realism, its repetition is like a news update playing to announce the killer has struck again. It is a catchy theme and is sure to be remembered by fans of the genre.
Despite what I’ve said, the dark nature of the film doesn’t make itself all that apparent on the initial viewing. The balance/pacing of sex and violence is good and doesn’t allow one to ruminate for too long. Like most debauched nights, the events are fun and it is easy to get lost in the moment celebrating to excess. Repeated night after night, the morning after effects become difficult to ignore. Repeated viewings can offer some light into Fulci’s intentions but won’t change the fact that this is one mean and nasty film.