The New York Ripper (Lucio Fulci / Italy, 1982):
(Lo Squartatore di New York)

The ugly duckling and the slashed nipple, a Géricaultian composition. A bald steal from Friedkin’s Cruising introduces the view under the Brooklyn Bridge, the credits roll over a freeze-frame of a purplish, severed hand gripped by an old man’s dog. One young woman is slaughtered while trapped in the belly of the Staten Island Ferry (the cityscape vanishes in the distance, the switchblade fills the screen), another is mutilated backstage at a 42nd Street sex club (green and scarlet neon bathes the splayed corpse), two of the pit-stops in Lucio Fulci’s American Sodom Tour. The Ripper is "a very superior mind" with a knack for "good, efficient butchery," the voice of misogyny squawking on the phone: "Oh she was beautiful, too beautiful. She was asking for it and I gave it to her, quack quack quack!" The law meanwhile stumbles in the dark, hiding a copy of Blue Boy between the pages of a New York Post edition and quoting Verlaine. "In subtlety lies the essence of things... Bullshit!" Fulci has one goal, to outdo De Palma. Her lust suddenly turned to dread, a hot-to-trot bourgeois fashion-plate extricates herself from the erotic manacles of an afternoon rendezvous only to saunter straight into the maniac’s knife. ("Your wife was free to live and free to die," her husband is told.) A subway passenger rushes into an empty movie theater, where the grisly attack is backlit against the projector’s beam of light before being revealed as a dream. And, in the slurpiest show-stopper, the pas de deux between a prostitute and a razor builds excruciatingly to that image from Un Chien Andalou. Frank O’Hara’s "path so cut and red" ("Female Torso"), a blood flood with a damaged family at its center, Fulci’s most corrosive vision. What comes in from Fleischer’s The Boston Strangler goes into Fincher’s Seven. With Jack Hedley, Almanta Suska, Howard Ross, Andrea Occhipinti, Alexandra Delli Colli, Paolo Malco, and Daniela Doria.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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