13 June 2016

THE NEW YORK RIPPER, MANHATTAN BABY AND THE BLACK CAT: THREE LUCIO FULCI FILMS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS!



SHAMELESS SCREEN ENTERTAINMENT PRESENTS FULCI'S TRILOGY OF TERROR: A TRIPLE BILL OF LUCIO FULCI GIALLO FILMS! REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE NEW YORK RIPPER. (1982) DIRECTED BY LUCIO FULCI. STARRING JACK HEDLEY, PAOLO MALCO, HOWARD ROSS AND DANIELA DORIA.

MANHATTAN BABY. (1982) DIRECTED BY LUCIO FULCI. STARRING CHRISTOPHER CONNELLY, GIOVANNI FREZZA AND BRIGITTA BOCCOLI.

THE BLACK CAT. (1981) BASED ON THE STORY BY EDGAR ALLAN POE. STARRING PATRICK MAGEE, MIMSY FARMER, DAVID WARBECK, AL CLIVER AND DANIELA DORIA.

I love these three Lucio Fulci giallo films, even though plenty has been written about each of their so-called faults. There's too much gratuitous sex-and-violence in them, they're too convoluted, they're too incomprehensible and so on and so forth. Big deal! They're all still terrific films.

The NEW YORK TIMES says that 'Lucio Fulci ranks among the masters of blood-soaked Italian horror fantasy and sexy thrillers.' That's what it says on my gorgeous glossy horror boxset anyway, the one to which I treated myself a while back.

I watched all three films on the boxset recently over three nights, and I feel confident in confirming that the NEW YORK TIMES was right about Fulci and his 'blood-soaked Italian horror fantasy and sexy thrillers.' Hell, we all knew that already...!

THE NEW YORK RIPPER is a notorious video nasty which was famously censored to buggery on its release, if you'll pardon my French, for all the sexy slashing and whatnot that it contains. The serial killer is some sort of woman-hating psychotic sicko, who cuts a murderous swathe through the young, attractive and sexually active gals of New York while quacking like a duck. Yes, a duck. Well, I said he was a sicko, didn't I?

The film throws us no less than three suspects: a rough-and-ready sex maniac-type with two fingers missing on one hand (oooh, he's deformed so it MUST be him, according to the rules of cinema...!); a super-intelligent psychotherapy professor hired to profile our misogynistic murderer; and a handsome young physicist with a pretty blonde girlfriend. You'll have great fun trying to work out whodunnit...!

There's even a suggestion at times that the killer may be female, which is a chilling thought given the mutilation and stab-happy slashing of womens' defenceless naked bodies that takes place in the film.
Women are getting it 'up the joy-trail' and everything. Not my words, believe me...!

The rich posh bored housewife who has sex with strangers and tapes her encounters for her voyeur of a husband is the most interesting character, to my mind. It's a stark fact that if you sleep with strangers you literally never know what you're getting yourself into.

This fact should be sufficient to deter people from doing it. Sadly, it never is sufficient and women like Jane Lodge find themselves biting off more than they can chew. Much more. This film is hard to watch because of the sexual violence but, if you think you can stomach it, it's probably one of Fulci's finest creations.

MANHATTAN BABY concerns a young girl who brings home a cursed amulet from a family holiday in Egypt. Don't you just hate it when kids do that? The little bleeders.The amulet allows little Susie Hacker and her brother Tommy (played by Giovanni Frezza, the cherubic star of Fulci's THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY) to access what you might call doorways to another dimension.

On these little 'voyages,' as they call them, they can zip back and forth to Egypt safely and harmlessly without ever leaving the house. Other people who are similarly 'transported,' like a family friend or the children's nanny, fail to return...

It's a disturbing situation for the kids' parents, especially when little Susie falls desperately ill and they can't work out what's wrong with her. HELLO...! IT'S THE CURSED AMULET FROM
ANCIENT EGYPT MAKING HER SICK...! D'uh. Stupid parents.

This film has been compared to other classic genre films like THE EXORCIST, ROSEMARY'S BABY, THE AWAKENING, THE BIRDS and THE OMEN. The film is undoubtedly mystifying and even incoherent at times, but ultimately its charm makes you forget about any little plotholes.

My favourite scene is the one in which the mysterious 'Adrian Marcato' is attacked in his musty old antique shop by his own re-animated stuffed birds. You can see the strings on some of them! It's almost unbearably sweet. It serves the naughty shopkeeper right, though, for having a full-sized elephant's foot for sale in his emporium. Nasty old ivory dealer...!

THE BLACK CAT or, as it says on my boxset, WHEN PUSSY GOES BAD!, is loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe's story. It does, in fact, have someone being walled up alive behind a brick wall in it and, if you think the cat might be a metaphor for something, fuhgeddaboutit! The cat is as large as life and twice as unnatural and he's the central character in the whole shooting match.

The titular moggy is as evil as Old Nick himself and he's the property of the sinister old Professor Miles, a student of the supernatural. The Professor, played by Patrick Magee, puts me in mind of Boris Karloff, with the way he looks and the way he shuffles around his creepy old mansion. The cat and its owner have a weird kind of 'shining' thing going on with each other but who's controlling whom, exactly...? That, dear readers, is the sixty-four thousand dollar question.

The action is set in a delightful English village instead of the bustling streets of New York. It falls to pretty American tourist Jill Trevers and the handsome Inspector Gorley from Scotland Yard (you can see where that bit's going, can't you...?) to find out why people in the town are suddenly dying horrific cat-related deaths. There might even be a race against time thrown in for free, nudge nudge, wink wink.

The deaths really are horrific, by the way. The suffocation in the boathouse is probably the most distressing one, although the stupidity of the parties involved just beggars belief. 'Hey, let's go into this airtight locked room to have sex...!' Yeah, let's. Dummies...!

There are truly gruesome deaths by impalement in two out of three of the films in this trilogy. I guess someone who shall remain nameless must've had a thing for nasty old pointy spikes...! Someone definitely had a thing for filming eyes up close, that's for sure.

In THE BLACK CAT especially, Fulci focuses for long periods of time on eyes, namely on the bright clear peepers of Jill Trevers and the rheumy old orbs and beetle brows of Professor Miles while they're engaged in a sort of ocular stand-off. Well, eyes are meant to be the windows to the soul, after all.

Al Cliver as Sergeant Wilson deserves a special mention here for his spectacularly luxuriant ginger moustache. It's a moustache any porn star from the 'Seventies would be as proud as punch to lay claim to. The male stars, that is. The women, not so much.

By the way, horror fans, I've been waiting for a chance to say that 'the cat's back... and this time, it's purrsonal...!' Geddit? 'Purrsonal...?' Of course you get it. It's clever, innit?

I enjoyed this boxset sooooo much, I honestly can't tell you. I forgot to mention that the trilogy is introduced by Fulci's daughter Antonella, which was a nice little touch. If you get the chance to watch these movies, either together or separately, you should take it. They're little gems of pure giallo from an era that we don't have with us anymore. Fulci forever though, right guys...?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com








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