31 Days of Halloween — Day 6: The New York Ripper (1982) — by Dr. Shock

The New York Ripper 1982

Editor’s note: Dave “Dr. Shock” Becker is a host on Horror Movie Podcast and the Land of the Creeps horror podcast. He is also the mastermind behind DVDInfatuation.com, a movie review blog where he is watching and posting one review every day until he reaches at least 2,500 movie reviews. Follow Doc on Twitter: @DVDinfatuation.

The Video Nasties craze that hit Britain in the early to mid-1980s wasn’t particularly kind to Lucio Fulci. The “official” list of 72 films released by the Director of Public Prosecutions, which identified movies on video that, due to their violence and sexual content, could be subject to prosecution, featured three of the director’s titles: “Zombie,” “The House by the Cemetery,” and “The Beyond.”

One Fulci film that did not appear on the list was 1982’s “The New York Ripper,” and for good reason: it had been banned from public exhibition. James Ferman, the Director of the British Board of Classification from 1975 to 1999, supposedly found “The New York Ripper” so reprehensible that, once the review screening was over, he had the police escort the prints to Heathrow so they could be immediately flown out of the country (while some sources claim the airport story never really happened, the fact remains that the movie was banned in the UK until 2002).

Like most horror fans (or, for that matter, movie fans in general), words like “banned” and “video nasty” are enough to get my blood boiling, but after watching “The New York Ripper,” a film chock full of blood, guts, and naked flesh, I can’t shake the feeling that Fulci got off easy!

A serial killer is loose in New York City, and detective Frank Williams (Jack Hedley) has been assigned to track him down. With several pretty young ladies already in the morgue, Williams knows it’s only a matter of time before the killer strikes again, and enlists the help of psychologist Dr. Paul Davis (Paolo Malco) to try and determine who this maniac might be, and where he’ll strike again.

Yet, despite their best efforts, Williams and Davis are frustrated at every turn, and to add insult to injury, the killer, who disguises his voice to sound like a duck, has started calling Williams, taunting him and promising that he’ll soon kill again. The break Williams has been waiting for comes when an intended victim, Fay Majors (Almanta Suska), survives her encounter with the killer. She describes him as having two fingers missing from one of his hands, which lead the police to Mikis Scellenda (Howard Ross), a petty criminal and known pervert. But is he truly the man they’re looking for?

Taking a page from the slasher films that were prominent in the early ‘80s, “The New York Ripper” features a number of kill scenes, some of which are downright grisly. One poor girl is cornered on the Staten Island Ferry and repeatedly stabbed (we even see some entrails popping from her wounds), and a sequence in which a prostitute is slowly tortured is tough to watch (I have to admit, I looked away at one point).

In addition to its graphic violence, “The New York Ripper” is also jam-packed with nudity and sex. A side story, involving a doctor’s wife (Alexandra Delli Colli) who secretly tape records her sexual trysts so that her husband (Cosimo Cinieri) can listen to them later, was risqué enough (especially a scene set in the pool hall, where the wife has a very unusual encounter with a perfect stranger), but Fulci ups the ante by also shooting a live sex show, a sequence that ends with yet another gruesome murder.

Its seedier elements aside, “The New York Ripper” is an often-effective horror film (we even get a few of those POV shots that were all the rage in the ‘80s), as well as a perplexing mystery (On two separate occasions I thought I’d figured out who the killer was, only to find I was wrong both times). The movie also makes great use of its New York setting, with many scenes shot in areas of the city you wouldn’t want to visit once the sun went down.

Thanks to its over-reliance on nudity and gore, “The New York Ripper” is definitely not for the squeamish, and is brutal even by Fulci’s standards. But if you have the stomach for it, then I do recommend giving it a chance.

— Dr. Shock

Links for Dr. Shock:
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Dr. Shock also appears on this horror podcast: Land of the Creeps

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5 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween — Day 6: The New York Ripper (1982) — by Dr. Shock


    Day 06 – Tusk (2014)

    Originally conceived on Kevin Smith’s podcast, SModcast, 2014’s Tusk is by its very nature, a silly and stupid horror dark comedy that one would think up while hanging out with a couple of buddies. If you’re someone who needs your horror to be serious, the film will just not be effective for you. Considering I don’t have a single problem with injecting some humor into my horror, is Tusk a good film? Well, some aspects worked while some kept it from being as good as it could have been.

    Without question, the strongest element of Tusk is the very realistic fear of meeting a stranger that harbors a dark secret. In Tusk, Wallace is so full of himself and believing that the elder Howard is a non threat that he never once questions anything. I found the idea of being drugged by a stranger and then being at their brutal mercy to be flat out terrifying. There’s a great scene in the middle of the film where the previously believed to be handicap Howard stands out and walks around at the dining table. Despite everything that’s going through Wallace’s mind, that grabs his attention and he temporarily loses focus on everything else. In addition, I’d also say the depth to Howard’s insanity is frightening as well. Howard isn’t simply someone who’s a bit looney. Howard is bat shit crazy and he’s loving every minute of his torture, manipulation, and toying of Wallace. This may be a wacky film about a podcast host being turned into a walrus, but it doesn’t take away from those natural fears.

    Despite Tusk relying heavily on comedy, I found myself seeing a lot of similarities between Tusk and Rob Zombie’s House of 1,000 Corpses. In both cases, you have someone(s) on the road and in an unfamiliar location, showing up at the house of someone they believe can be trusted. This initial thought is quickly dashed once the insanity of the homeowner is revealed. The horror isn’t simply kept to being killed by this insane force, but rather they want to have fun playing with their victims by creating a truly bizarre hybrid part man/part animal creature. Granted, Zombie’s film managed to come up with the catchier name of “Fish Boy” for it’s victim while Kevin Smith fails to come up with a clever name for the new Wallace Walrus.

    As for the comedy, it can be broken down into two parts. There’s the pre-horror comedy that works rather well in setting the tone of what the film would have been like had Wallace never fell into the hands of Howard and then there’s the post-horror comedy led by Johnny Depp as Guy Lapointe, the one man that can help Wallace’s girlfriend and podcast co-host find their beloved Wallace Walrus. This comedy didn’t work for me at all. Once you dived into the crazy ass horror, sick scenes, and legitimate WTF moments, the tone is ruined when you cut to the wacky Lapointe doing his over the top sleuthing. At least when Howard is responsible for the comedy in the second half of the movie, it’s so weird and disturbing that it continues the tone of Wallace is enduring some craziness and I’d rather be killed than be put through what Wallace is having to go through. Admittedly, I’m sure plenty of viewers will be turned off by the over the top scene of Howard dressing in his own walrus suit to battle Wallace to the death, but I didn’t have a problem with it. Every time the story cut back to Lapointe, Wallace’s girlfriend, and his podcast co-host, I was just waiting for the story to shift back to the horrors being done to Wallace.

    Overall, Tusk is an over the top, sick film, that never attempts to be taken too seriously. Had it attempted to eliminate some of the pure comedy, I do believe it would have been a stronger film. However, considering the initial film plot came about on a podcast, I have to wonder if Kevin Smith even attempted to make a great horror rather than trying to humor himself? While I haven’t watched this trilogy, I get the impression that Tusk is a lighter version of The Human Centipede, that would be more accessible to a greater amount of potential viewers. Is it worth going out of your way to watch Tusk? Ehh, not necessarily. For me, the main reasons for watching this is that it’s currently streaming as part of Amazon Prime and the second part of Kevin Smith’s Canadian horror/comedy trilogy, Yoga Hosers, is now starting to be watched by people. Still, if you do watch Tusk, I have full confidence that you won’t be able to quickly forget about it.

    Rating: 6/10

  2. Day 6: They’re Watching (2016)

    Rating: 7.5/10 (high priority rental)

    — — — — — Contains spoilers — — — — —

    What I liked:
    – For a good time, watch They’re Watching.
    – The humor throughout the movie is very natural and works well.
    – The characters are supremely likable.
    – The ending is completely over-the-top, which worked really well for me with the light tone of the rest of the movie.
    – While the tone is light and humorous throughout, the film manages to maintain a certain level of creepiness with little things here and there that are just “off.”

    What I didn’t like:
    – The very beginning of the movie gives away a key climactic event for no reason.
    – While the over-the-top ending worked for me, I wonder if taking a more serious, practical approach would have made for a more effective horror film.

  3. Due to its off the charts sleaze factor, New York Ripper is one of the only films in my adult life that I’ve actually felt “unpleasantly dirty” while viewing. While it’s not got much in the way of scares or tension (despite being rather gruesome), it’s pretty memorable nonetheless. The killer’s Donald Duck voice that Dr. Shock alluded to comes across somewhere between corny and creepy (probably depending on what your mind state is while watching). The mystery angle is actually pretty solid and while extremely poorly acted (but bad acting in a Fulci film…no way!), the very end somewhat resonated with me. Not sure I would even recommend it, but I can definitely say that for better or worse, it sticks with you…

  4. Day 6 – Lovely Molly

    I don’t really have a lot to say here. I didn’t enjoy this too much. The fatal flaw for me here was in the sound design. Consistently, there is a high frequency ringing that seems to show up every other scene and it’s more than unnerving, it’s literally painful to listen to. Now, I know some people may say that it adds to the tension of the film, but it’s actually more akin to sitting on a thumb tack are staring at strobe light for minutes at a time. It doesn’t create tension, it just literally hurts. Watching Lovely Molly was a chore I’m sad to say.

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