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The New York Ripper

A lonely old man walks his dog alongside the Hudson River in New York City. He throws a stick; the dog retrieves it. Nice. So he does it again. The dog reciprocates. The third time around, however, the dog emerges from a snarl of hedges with a different prize in his jaws: a rotted human hand.

Doggie fetches an unexpected treat

But then this otherwise-cool opening to The New York Ripper is ruined by a laughable main title song which sounds too much like the "Love Boat" theme set against a disco beat. No joke--it's so bad, it's hilarious.

After the credits end, we're suddenly thrust back into the excuse for a story. And in it, NYPD's Lt. Williams (Jack Hedley) is placed on a case in which young women are turning up slashed to death. And when one young victim escapes the Ripper, her testimony becomes crucial to the case.

A motorist experiences the Ripper's wrath....

During the killing spree, the killer makes taunting phone calls to the police, speaking in a quacking duck voice. Most detractors to the film cite this element as the movie's greatest weakness, but I assert the opposite; the duck-voice is one of the film's few virtues. Once the killer's motives have been established during the final part of the movie, then a new dramatic dimension is added to what was an otherwise forgettable slasher flick.

Keep an eye on the Ripper's mayhem....

The New York Ripper stands as a testament to director Lucio Fulci's devotion to the craft of emulation, even borrowing here from Steve Miner (watch the movie then tell me he didn't mimic the "hiding under the bed" scenario from Friday the 13th, Part II). By no means perfect, in terms of direction, dialogue, acting or effects, but still....endearing.

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