This time around Fulci offers up a nice tale of murder and mayhem in New York. It seems there is a psycho out there who really likes to dice up women and call the local police chief telling of his actions in a Donald Duck voice. As in every single crime story like this, we have to go through several likely suspects until the very end of the film where the actual murderer seems to be discovered all of the sudden and by accident. I Liked the little twist ending as I had some doubts as to who the killer actually was, though I will not ruin the film this time by telling you who it is.
Fulci received a lot of criticism for the overly misogynistic tone presented in this movie and claimed all the sex was not gratuitous. The killer is a sexually repressed lunatic who gets his sexual kicks by murdering what he probably believes to be 'vile' or 'disgusting' women. After glancing between the legs of a short-skirted girl, he draws his knife first to stab her in the breast before slitting her up to the middle of her chest starting from between her legs. After performing a live sex show, another girl is stabbed repeatedly in the crotch with the end of a broken bottle.
Fulci throws in a rich and very sexually adventerous woman for added sleaze appeal. She coincidentally was at the live sex show and entertained herself further via her index finger and a hand held tape recorder, which she would later let her husband listen to for his pleasure. She definitely has a knack for getting into weird sexual situations. Once arriving at a local Pool hall, two men pick up on her free will and administer a, shall we say, 'toe bang', from underneath the table. Unfortunately, for her, that same knack eventually leads to her death.
Admittedly a quacking killer seems ludicrous, but I can't help but love this movie for diving into a cesspool of sleaze and filth. Next time you decide to do some crank calls be sure and pick up on this guy's act. Yes, the film is rather hateful to women, but it is not far placed from reality. Hundreds of serial killers have harbored severe hatred for women and played on their hatreds. I would like the movie just as much, if not more, if the gender roles were reversed. It is also a little ironic that all the victims were sexual deviants in some way.
There is plenty of gore including a classic scene to rival the 'eye splinter' scene from the classic ZOMBIE. The killer calls the police and quacks his way through a live killing as he takes a razor blade and runs it through his victim's breast before continuing through the horrified girl's open eye. But the killer isn't the only one creating the gore as he wins the award for best death of the film by getting a gun blast through the cheek. A great scene worthy of the slow-motion treatment. This may even beat the gun blast through the throat in THE SMUGGLER!
One thing rarely seen in a Fulci film is some inventive camera work. Here we get a nice little taste as open razor point of view shots put you in the knife's position as a throat is slashed. There's also a relatively tense scene featuring a frightened possible victim's reflection shown on the doorknob as it slowly turns. Michele Soavi regular and occasional girlfriend, Barbara Cupisti, has a small role, as well as Fulci, who plays a local police chief. The print available on Japanese laser disc is great with the Japanese subtitles staying mostly out of the nicely letterboxed picture. Unfortunately, we are treated to those pesky 'clouds' placed on those nasty human body regions that we are not supposed to see. Another version has also been released overseas completely uncut without any fogging on laserdisc. These are the only ways to get the complete 'toe bang' sequence though, so it's still worth it to see the film in it's complete form.
While the laserdisc runs 91 minutes, the U.S. release on Vidmark from 1987 (now long out of print) clocks in at 87 minutes and has several cuts. The first difference is obviously that it is not letterboxed and the print is very dark making several things hard to see. All the long shots of the couple at the live sex show are missing as well as the woman masturbating in the front row. Of course, the 'toe bang' is butchered, running about 20 seconds as opposed to nearly 3 minutes on laser!! There are a couple other minor things missing like a pubic shot but nothing major. Fortunately, all the gore is uncensored if you happen to come across a copy of this.