The New York Ripper

The New York Ripper (Italian: Lo squartatore di New York) is a 1982 Italian giallo film directed by Lucio Fulci.

The New York Ripper
Italian theatrical release poster by Enzo Sciotti[1]
Directed byLucio Fulci
Produced byFabrizio De Angelis[1]
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Gianfranco Clerici
  • Lucio Fulci
  • Vincenzo Mannino[1]
Music byFrancesco De Masi[1]
CinematographyLuigi Kuveiller[1]
Edited byVincenzo Tomassi[1]
Fulvia Film[1]
Release date
  • 4 March 1982 (1982-03-04) (Italy)
Running time
85 minutes

While most of Fulci's films have been released uncut in the United Kingdom, The New York Ripper remains censored to this day, even for its 2011 DVD and Blu-ray releases.[2]


An old man is walking his dog in New York City when the dog retrieves a decomposed human hand. It is identified by the police as belonging to Ann-Lynne, a local prostitute. Lieutenant Fred Williams (Jack Hedley), the burned-out police detective investigating the murder, interviews the young woman's nosy and obnoxious landlady, Mrs. Weissburger (Babette New), who tells him that during her daily spying and eavesdropping on her tenants, she overheard the girl last week over the phone arranging to meet a man who spoke with a strange, duck-like voice.

Meanwhile, a young woman (Cinzia de Ponti) rides her bicycle down Manhattan to the Staten Island Ferry at Battery Park. After an altercation with a motorist, she rides onto the boat. When the ferry is underway, the young woman sneaks into the car-bay and begins vandalizing the man's car, but she is interrupted by an unseen figure, who adopts a grotesque duck voice and brutally murders her with a knife. At the morgue, Lt. Williams talks to Barry Jones the pathologist (Giordano Falzoni), who believes he recognizes the "style" of the killing and links it to Ann-Lynne, as well as a similar case in Harlem the previous month.

Having informed the press that a serial killer is at large, Williams is visited at the station by New York's chief of police (Lucio Fulci). Williams' skeptical superior tells him not to make any further public announcements about the case to avoid starting a citywide panic. Soon after the police chief leaves, Williams is notified that a man "sounding like a duck" phoned while he was out at the press conference wanting to speak with him. Williams travels to Columbia University where he meets with a brilliant young psychotherapy professor named Dr. Paul Davis (Paolo Malco) for help in creating a profile of the killer.

That night in New York's red-light district, Jane Lodge (Alexandra Delli Colli), an attractive, well-dressed woman in a chic raincoat and derby hat, attends a live sex show and records the simulated moans and groans of the two performers with a pocket tape recorder. A scruffy, dangerous looking man (Howard Ross), with two fingers missing from his right hand and sitting in the same row with her, observes what she is doing. After the show has ended, the female performer (Zora Kerova) retires backstage to her dressing room only to find it totally dark. Hearing a noise, she opens a closet door and is brutally attacked by the maniac, who kills her by shoving a broken and jagged liquor bottle into her crotch. Later that night, at the home of Kitty (Daniela Doria), a prostitute regularly visited by Williams, he receives a taunting phone call from the duck-voiced killer saying that he has killed again.

The next day, Jane shows her latest tape recording to her husband Dr. Lodge (Laurence Welles), who has agreed to support their open-marriage. Jane goes to a bar in a rough neighborhood where she's approached by two Hispanic bar punks (Antone Pagán) and (Josh Cruze) who proceed to fondle and sexually humiliate her right at the bar. After being taken advantage of, the emotionally troubled Jane runs out and drives away.

That night, Fay Majors (Almanta Keller), a casually dressed young woman is riding alone on a late-night subway train when she gets menaced by the same ominous man from the live sex theater. Fleeing from the perceived threat, she runs off the train, through the deserted subway station, and onto the street where she gets attacked in a dark alley by the quacking maniac, who brutally stabs her in the leg and slashes her hands and arms as she tries to defend herself. Limping away, Fay stumbles through a doorway into a seedy apartment building where she closes and locks the door behind her so the killer will not follow. Fay passes out from the loss of blood, and then realty and illusion blur: Fay is sitting alone in a dark movie theater watching cartoons when she attacked and killed by a different, handsome young man who slashes her neck with a straight razor. Fay wakes up in the hospital the morning after when the same man visits her in her room. The man is revealed to be her physicist boyfriend Peter Bunch (Andrew Painter), who is relieved that she has survived the attack. Lt. Williams and Dr. Davis visit Fay where she tells them about her attacker who was missing two fingers from his right hand. Williams and Davis both conclude that this is the killer since all forensic evidence points to the killer being left-handed.

Somewhere in night-time New York, the owner of his mutilated right hand picks up Jane and takes her to a sleazy hotel room for bondage sex. He ties up the semi-nude woman to the bed. The S&M game she has willingly begun turns nasty when he begins to beat her. Then the man turns up the radio loud while it plays Berto Pisano's "Tic nervoso" and makes a muttered phone-call, describing the bound woman to someone on the other line as "she's right up your perverted alley. " A little later, while the man sleeps, Jane overhears a radio DJ describing the killer, whom the press has now dubbed, 'the New York Ripper,' and missing two fingers from his right hand. Jane carefully and quietly unties herself from the bed and flees into the hotel hallway, only to be killed by the real New York Ripper, who guts her, and stabs her to death just as she tries to make for the exit at the end of the hall.

Williams arrives at the scene of the crime where the police find Jane's tape recordings of the sex shows and of her 'master.' Learning from witnesses, Williams discovers that the identity of the man is Mickey Scellenda, a Greek immigrant with a history of sexual assault and drug abuse. Williams and the police step up the search for Scellenda after raiding his apartment, finding photographs of most of the Ripper victims and huge stashes of pornography and drug paraphernalia. Williams also pays a visit to Dr. Lodge to inform him of his wife's murder. Dr. Lodge tearfully defends his open marriage which gets him a sneering response from the moralistic Williams.

Meanwhile, Dr. Davis begins to express doubt to the killer's identity, for Mickey Scellenda is only a petty criminal with a low intelligence quotient, not the high intelligence that Davis has established in profiling the New York Ripper. Davis then buys a gay porn magazine at a local newsstand (revealing his repressed homosexuality), and pays a visit to Peter and Fay at their house to ask them more questions about Fay's experience. Something about their story arouses his professional suspicious. That evening, after Peter goes out, Fay is attacked in their house by Scellenda who breaks in trying to kill her. But she is saved when Peter returns, and the man flees.

A few days later, Williams gets another taunting phone call from the New York Ripper, who wants to "dedicate a murder" to him. Williams and the police put a trace on the line and race to the location, only to find that the killer has set up a two-way radio to a remote phone booth, while he is presently in the home of Kitty, the young prostitute favored by Williams, brutally torturing her by slowly applying a razorblade to her bare chest and her face. Williams races to Kitty's apartment, but is too late as the killer has fled, leaving behind Kitty's horribly maimed corpse to be discovered.

Some time later, the dead body of Mickey Scellenda is found having committed suicide from self-suffocation. When Dr. Barry Jones informs Williams that Scellenda was dead for the last eight days, four days before Kitty's murder, Williams finally realizes that they have been tailing the wrong man. Williams relays this to Professor Davis, who is both delighted and disappointed with the news. Davis explains that with Scellenda eliminated as a suspect, his original idea to the killer's identity is confirmed; a misogynist psychopath who used Scellenda to throw the police off his trail.

Fay is shown visiting a hospital where Peter has a child from a previous marriage, a little girl named Susy, who is dying from a rare bone disorder that has led to the amputation of her right arm and right leg. Visiting the hospital, Williams and Davis observe little Susy in her hospital bed and decide to race over to Peter and Fay's place to arrest both of them. At Peter and Fay's house, one of them gets a phone call from a duck-voiced person, while the other one overhears. When Peter goes into the kitchen for dinner, Fay has disappeared. Going upstairs to Susy's bedroom, Fay jumps out of the darkness at Peter while stabbing him with a kitchen knife. Suddenly, Peter rises, quacking like a duck, and struggles with Fay in which they both tumble down the stairs. Just as Peter grabs the knife away from Fay and about to stab her, Williams runs in and literally blasts Peter's face off with one shot from his gun. In the ambulance, Davis explains to Fay her deranged boyfriend's motivation for killing. His hatred of sexually active women stemmed from bitterness at the cruel blow fate had dealt his young daughter, who will never enjoy the freedoms of his despised victims. After leaving the scene, the phone in the now-deserted house rings again. In her hospital bed, little Susy is calling out for her father, pleading to him to answer her call, as her voice is drowned out beneath the indifferent traffic of the city.


  • Jack Hedley as Lt. Fred Williams
  • Paolo Malco as Dr. Paul Davis
  • Almanta Suska as Fay Majors (credited as Almanta Keller)
  • Howard Ross as Mickey Scellenda (Mikis)
  • Andrea Occhipinti as Peter Bunch (credited as Andrew Painter)
  • Alexandra Delli Colli as Jane Lodge
  • Cosimo Cinieri as Dr. Lodge (credited as Laurence Welles)
  • Giordano Falzoni as Dr. Barry Jones, Coroner
  • Daniela Doria as Kitty
  • Cinzia de Ponti as Rosie - Ferry victim
  • Zora Kerova as Eva - Sex show performer (credited as Zora Kerowa)
  • Josh Cruze as Chico (credited as Johs Cruze)
  • Antone Pagán as Morales (credited as Anthon Kagan)
  • Chiara Ferrari as Susy Bunch
  • Barbara Cupisti as Heather


Prior to the release of the film, Fulci discussed the production, describing it as "much less horror than my previous films, no zombies, but a human killer working in the dark."[3] Fulci described the film as a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock, billing it as "Hitchcock Revisited, a fantastic film with a plot, violence and sexuality."[3] Dardano Sacchetti, who was one of Fulci's key creative collaborators at the time, stated that much of the film's sexual content came from Fulci, claiming that Fulci "nurtures a profound sadism towards women."[3] The film was shot on location in New York with interiors filmed in Rome.[4]

Zora Kerova, who played Eva in the film, spoke positively about working with Fulci and stated that it took a while for Fulci to warm up to her. When asked what she thought of the film, she stated she "didn't like The New York Ripper at all."[5]


The New York Ripper was released on 4 March 1982 in Italy.[6]

In the United Kingdom, the film was screened for the BBFC, with Carol Tpolski describing the film as "simply the most damaging film I have ever seen in my whole life" and "a relentless catalogue of the eponymous antihero/villain cutting women up."[7] The film was banned in the United Kingdom, where it could not be sold or owned until 2002.[7]

The film received a limited theatrical release in the United States in 1984 and was released on VHS in 1987, where it was slightly edited by Vidmark Entertainment.[7]

Critical reception

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 17% based on 6 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 3/10.[8]

Eric Henderson of Slant Magazine called the film "sour and pointless," adding that it "utilizes all the necessary ingredients but fails to summon from them the magisterial dignity one expects from the finer NYC vomitoriums."[9] On his website, Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings, Dave Sindelar criticized the film's cliched plot, obvious identity of the killer and attempts at pathos, the latter of which he felt were "forced and ineffectual." In the end, Sindelar stated that the film's nastiness and gore were its primary appeal, while also noting that it "will certainly not be to everyone’s taste."[10] Maitland McDonagh from TV Guide gave the film 1/4 stars, writing, "Fulci alternates sleazy sex scenes with graphic and deeply misogynistic murders, fills the plots with twists that make no sense, then wraps the whole thing up in a preposterous psychological flourish."[11] Robert Firsching of AllMovie claimed that the film was Fulci "pandering to the lowest common denominator as never before in his career". He added that "Fulci showed with this blatant play for the sicko slasher crowd that the days of well-plotted, stylish Italian horror were gone, replaced with the most vicious sort of sexual violence and perversion", concluding that the film was a "shameful piece of work".[6]


  1. Howarth 2015, p. 246.
  2. "THE NEW YORK RIPPER rated 18 by the BBFC". Retrieved 30 July 2012.
  3. Howarth 2015, p. 248.
  4. Howarth 2015, p. 250.
  5. Howarth 2015, p. 254.
  6. Firsching, Robert. "New York Ripper". AllMovie. Archived from the original on 30 August 2013. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  7. Howarth 2015, p. 252.
  8. "Lo Squartatore di New York (The New York Ripper) (1982) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Flixer. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  9. Henderson, Eric (28 April 2008). "The New York Ripper". Retrieved 30 July 2012.
  10. Sindelar, Dave. "New York Ripper (1982)". Fantastic Movie Dave Sindelar. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  11. McDonagh, Maitland. "The New York Ripper - Movie Reviews and Movie Ratings". TV Maitland McDonagh. Retrieved 7 August 2018.


  • Howarth, Troy (2015). Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films. Midnight Marquee Press, Inc. ISBN 1936168537.

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