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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

The New York Ripper

(Lo squartatore di New York)
1982 | Italy | 85 min | More...
A still from The New York Ripper (1982)
B-: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
on Sat Mar 11, 2023

A maniac stalks the streets of New York City, killing attractive women by mutilating their breasts or genitals. A New York Police Detective recruits a professor of psychology to help him find the killer.

Director Lucio Fulci’s return to the giallo genre features ample sleaze and gore. He invites us to witness a live sex show by proxy, then see one of the show’s performers stabbed in the crotch by a broken glass bottle. Later, we see a razor blade slice through a woman’s nipple. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Fulci film without ocular violence.

But all this sleaze obscures a deeper cynicism. Every character displays some sexual perversion. A wealthy woman trolls for anonymous sexual encounters and records her dalliances for her husband. Our hero, the Detective, spends his nights with a high-class call girl. The learned college professor enjoys gay pornographic magazines.

And yet, when revealed, the killer’s motive packs a wallop, revealing a devastating emotional cruelty toward the film’s lone innocent—a grade school-aged girl suffering a terminal illness.

Though it’s tempting to reduce The New York Ripper to misogynistic exploitation, the finale reveals a meditation on guilt. Corrupt characters drown their insecurities in sexual vice as Fulci grapples with whether they’re victims or monsters.

Having co-written the screenplay and shot the film, Fulci’s wallowing in those same perversions. His New York City proves a convincing hell. One whose residents struggle to ignore the shame of their own complacency.

Viewing History

    Watched on
    Sat Mar 11, 2023 via 4k UHD Blu-ray (Blue Underground, 2020)