{Feature} David Sodergren’s The Giallo Films of Lucio Fulci (Part 3)

The Giallo Films of Lucio Fulci (Part 3)

KR: You can read Part 1 of The Giallo Films Of Lucio Fulci HERE

KR: You can read Part 2 of The Giallo Films Of Lucio Fulci HERE

The New York Ripper (1982)

Simply the most damaging film I have ever seen in my whole life,” said one of the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) employees when The New York Ripper was screened for the censor board in the early 80s, accidentally setting the critical tone for the next twenty or so years on Fulci’s misanthropic masterpiece.

For years I would read about the film, unable to see it due to its UK ban until the 00s, and the consensus was that Fulci’s return to the giallo was a revolting disaster. The plot was cliché, the killer obvious, the music bad…even the special effects came in for a critical drubbing. People hated this film, and while many still do, time has been very kind to New York Ripper.

It comes off the back of Fulci’s astounding gothic horror period. Zombi, City of the Living Dead, The Beyond, House by the Cemetery…a series of films renowned for their dark beauty and grotesque, theatrical violence and bloodletting. Now, by 1982, the giallo was a full decade past its commercial peak, but luckily for us, Fulci decided to make a new thriller, transplanting the grim aesthetic of his horror films into a grimy, scuzzy slice of violent New York sleaze. And the violence here is truly off-the-charts. Breasts sliced open, women disembowelled, broken bottles thrust into vaginas…it’s jaw-droppingly nasty stuff. While it would be easy — very easy indeed — to label the film misogynistic, I’d say it’s more misanthropic. True, most of the violence is directed towards women, but the men are all foul, rotten creatures. No one comes out of this film looking good.

Well, I suppose that’s not true. Everyone onscreen looks good, thanks to the brilliant camerawork of the returning Luigi (Lizard in a Woman’s Skin) Kuveiller. It’s hard to believe people knocked the look of this film for so long, though it helps that Blue Underground granted New York Ripper a 4K restoration last year, and the film looks positively stunning. Fulci mixes the scuzz of real NY locations with gorgeous coloured gel lighting to create one of the best-looking horror films of the 80s.

Most of Fulci’s early 80s crew are along for the ride on this one, editor Vincezo Tomassi and writer Dardano Sacchetti in particular. Francesco De Masi fills in for the absent Fabio Frizzi on soundtrack duty, supplying a mash-up between classic giallo suspense and 80s cop thriller themes.

With that said, how you respond to the film will largely depend on how you feel about the, err, duck voiced killer. Yeah, that’s right. The killer talks like a duck. It’s stupid as fuck, no doubt about it, but it’s a Fulci movie, so just go with it. Don’t let it bother you.

Bleak, nihilistic, hateful…The New York Ripper is many things, but dull it ain’t. I’ve come to regard it as one of the maestro’s best films, just behind Don’t Torture a Duckling and The Beyond. It was also, in a way, the last hurrah for the grand old man of Italian gore. He made many horror films after this one, but never again would he reach the level of deranged craftsmanship he achieved with New York Ripper, and no doubt the BBFC were thankful for small mercies.

Still, Fulci had one more giallo left in him, the manic disco-giallo…Murder-rock: Dancing Death!

Murder Rock: Dancing Death (1984)

And so we come to the final giallo of Fulci’s career, a bizarre attempt to grab some of those sweet Flashdance dollars by transplanting the giallo into the high stakes world of competitive dance.

It’s easily the worst of the films I’ve covered, but it’s by no means a write-off. The film looks terrific, bathed in pulsing neon lights and strobe effects that capture the sweaty dance numbers — and there are many — in all their glory. In its own special way, Murder Rock is almost as sleazy as New York Ripper. During the dances, the camera seems surgically glued to the lycra-clad butts of the young women, and even the murder method is designed for maximum trash value — the killer rips the women’s tops off and pierces their breast with a poison pin.

I mean, at this stage of his career, what else do you expect from ol’ Fulci? There are some fun call-backs to his earlier films, including a cameo from Mickey Mouse that recalls the absurdist denouement of New York Ripper, and Al Cliver playing a doctor will give fans of The Beyond pleasant flashbacks (shortly after a replay of that film’s ‘squeaky gurney’ moment).

But overall, there’s not a lot to say about this one. The police investigation takes over about halfway through, and Ray Lovelock turns up in a nonsense role, and the kids just keep on dancing, dancing, dancing, like nothing else matters. And maybe they’re right?

David Sodergren

David Sodergren lives in Scotland with his wife Heather and his best friend, Boris the Pug.

Growing up, he was the kind of kid who collected rubber skeletons and lived for horror movies.

Not much has changed since then.

His first novel, The Forgotten Island, was published on October 1st 2018. This was followed by Night Shoot, a brutal throwback to the early 80s slasher movie cycle, in May 2019.

2020 will be Sodergren’s biggest year yet, with two new horror novels being published. Dead Girl Blues is a slasher-noir mystery, and it will be followed by a return to full-blown supernatural horror before the end of the year.

You can follow David on Twitter @paperbacksnpugs

To find out more about David please visit his official website www.paperbacksandpugs.wordpress.com

Find David on Instagram here

Maggie’s Grave

The small Scottish town of Auchenmullan is dead, and has been for years. It sits in the shadow of a mountain, forgotten and atrophying in the perpetual gloom.

Forty-seven residents are all that remain.

There’s nothing to do there, nothing to see, except for a solitary grave near the top of the mountain.

MAGGIE WALL BURIED HERE AS A WITCH reads the faded inscription.

But sometimes the dead don’t stay buried. Especially when they have unfinished business.

A relentless folk-horror nightmare from the author of The Forgotten Island, Maggie’s Grave will disturb and shock in equal measure.

You can buy Maggie’s Grave from Amazon UK & Amazon US

Dead Girl Blues

When a young woman dies in Willow Zulawski’s arms, it sets in motion a chain of events that will push her to the brink of madness.

A mysterious video is the only clue, but as Willow digs deeper into the murky world of snuff movies, those closest to her start turning up dead. Someone out there will stop at nothing to silence her.

After all, when killing is business, what’s one more dead body?

Part noir mystery, part violent slasher, Dead Girl Blues is the latest twisted shocker from David Sodergren, author of The Forgotten Island and Night Shoot.

You can buy Dead Girl Blues from Amazon UK & Amazon US

The Forgotten Island

When Ana Logan agrees to go on holiday to Thailand with her estranged sister Rachel, she hopes it will be a way for them to reconnect after years of drifting apart.

But now, stranded on a seemingly deserted island paradise with no radio and no food, reconciliation becomes a desperate fight for survival.

For when night falls on The Forgotten Island, the dark secrets of the jungle reveal themselves.

Something is watching them from the trees.

Something ancient.

Something evil.

Combining the cosmic horrors of HP Lovecraft with the grimy sensibilities of the Video Nasties, The Forgotten Island is an outrageous old-school horror novel packed with mayhem and violence.

You can buy The Forgotten Island from Amazon UK & Amazon US

1 Comment

  1. I’m with you on The New York Ripper. There are a lot of distasteful moments in the film, but, overall, I was enthralled. I couldn’t take my eyes off it and thought it was much better than most people gave it credit for.
    Murder Rock was actually the first Fulci film I ever saw, but that was half a lifetime ago. I really need to give it another viewing.

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