Ripper to shreds

Writing reviews for other outlets than Shadowplay can feel like homework, but on the other hand you do get the perk of being sent review copies. But when the film under review is Lucio Fulci’s THE NEW YORK RIPPER, that may not feel like a bonus. Appalling, misogynistic, anti-sex (the people who hate sex are not the feminists, but perhaps they’re the pornographers) and deeply stupid in a way only gialli can be, it’s nevertheless morbidly fascinating, a ne plus ultra of scuzzy woman-hating, as extreme in its savagery as SALO, but with far less serious purpose.

Occasional visual felicities —

“No, Mr Fulci, no!”

Still, I’m kind of glad I saw it…

Review here.

13 Responses to “Ripper to shreds”

  1. I even found this utterly detestable as a moronic, hype-fed 14-year-old idiot-boy who still thought ‘horror’ equated ‘transgressive’ equated ‘awesome’ equated ‘must-see’. (To appreciate the full extent of my mid-teens stupidity, know that I pestered my parents for no less than *two months* in order to have them to condone my admittance to a theatrical viewing of the MA15+ I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER). Shudder to think what I’d make of it today. Or of the killer fishmonger sequel, for that matter.

  2. Hi Gerald!

    I liked the pedant who pointed out that that particular sequel really should have been called I Know What You Did Summer Before Last.

    I have postulated a porno version called I Did You-Know-What Last Summer.

    If Fulci’s aim was to render sadism utterly unerotic, he sure succeeded and I’d need to award him some credit. But the Italian horror directors from Freda and Bava on were always uncomfortable with sex and supremely comfortable with violence, making Italian exploitation cinema play at times like a genius parody of American exploitation cinema.

    But I still can’t find it in me to see anything very defensible about this movie.

  3. Have you seen AMER? A recent (and rare!) example of the femme-perspective giallo written/directed by a male-female real-life romantic couple with the express intention of subverting the genre’s typical sex-phobic misogyny. I’d have to watch it again with a more critical eye in order to say whether or not I think they truly succeeded (though if memory serves, I remember rather thinking they did – it certainly doesn’t want for sado-masochistic eroticism, but I can’t really remember how its very meagre story actually wraps up); the thing’s so formally bold and sensuously intoxicating that, mostly, I simply recall its weird, lurid beauty.

  4. Should Fulci be made into an adjective. On the one hand it could be used instead of tartare, and on the other when you just don’t have the words… Fulci!…

  5. “It was a bit fulci for my tastes”… yes, that works.

    Asked if there was any Fulci I liked, I had to answer honestly: Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is pretty astounding.

    Haven’t seen Amer but it did sound enticing. It’s definitely on my list to check out.

  6. That pipe had me flash back to the Clampett Daffy Duck cartoon Book Revue, “So round, so firm, so fully packed, so easy on the draw”.

  7. Ideal for puffing on one’s shag, yes.

  8. Oops – should’ve jumped on this last time (and speaking of pedants…) but it’s actually ‘Gerard’ and not ‘Gerald’ – a very common mistake, especially given the lovely assonance that forename would give my name in full. Best to nip these things right in the bud…

    And hello from London!

    Meanwhile, I interviewed Helen and Bruno, the makers of AMER, last year. It’s here if you’re ever interested in reading them talk on the film: It sure had a killer one-sheet…

  9. Oh there’s nothing pedantic about insisting on folks getting your name right. Although I decided to overlook those who cram an apostrophe into my surname, as in “David Cairn’s Shadowplay” as long as they’re saying nice things about me.

    So, sorry ’bout that! Enjoy London, and thanks for the link!

  10. I’m quite the Fulci fan, though I haven’t seen NY Ripper (being more of a fan of his surrealist zombie stuff). Have you ever seen BEATRICE CENCI? It’s actually a quasi-feminist/anti-clerical historical piece, with all the woman-hating sadism projected onto the greedy and corrupt Catholic church, so there’s less sense of moralizing.

  11. That one sounded interesting. But projecting misogyny is what gialli always do, with a good example being Massimo Dallamano’s What Have You Done to Solange? in which women are killed by stabbing to the genitals (although unlike Fulci, Dallamano does not invent some kind of vagicam in order to depict this). Now, such crimes do occur, and both Jack the Ripper and the Yorkshire Ripper were perpetrators of such acts. Forensic pathologists disagree over the “meaning” of the sexual violence, but it’s easy to predict what happens in WHYDTS? — the perp turns out to be female.

    The misogyny must always be alibied by locating it elsewhere, although I’ve yet to view Fulci’s Cat in the Brain (also banned in Britain on release) in which he plays the lead character as himself, which does seem admirably and unusually honest.

    My Universal Theory of Vitriol is that the names people yell at you are always the things they’re afraid of being themselves.

  12. >>very real difference between cock-pipes and jazz-mags on the one hand, and a razor to the eyeball and a broken bottle to the crotch on the other. No slippery slope exists from one to the other.<<

    Like the point. Is it a question of what constitutes a metaphor?

    Although this is 82 I think Fulci was part of a generation that wished to break down metaphor to "the thing", which was in his case, dumb flesh.

    That NYC subway shot. Seems like the subway hasn't been used in a film in a long time. Maybe the shiny surfaces of the new cars aren't conducive to film making.

  13. Maybe anybody with a film camera on the subway gets sent to Guantanamo?

    By filling his movie with sleaze, strip-shows and porn, Fulci appears to be linking the killer to this corrupt milieu, which I think is a false equation. The feminist idea that objectification makes violence easier and more acceptable to men makes a lot more sense to me.

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