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Fear City 1984
Description: Strippers in Manhattan are being stalked and murdered by a psycho. A hard-nosed police detective and a conflicted ex-boxer-turned-private-eye, hired by the strip club owners, set out to search him before he strikes again.
Released: 18 Jul 1984 Director: Abel Ferrara Writers: Nicholas St. John Actors: Tom Berenger, Billy Dee Williams, Jack Scalia, Melanie Griffith Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Fear City Reviews:

Nice movie that doesn't receive the same amount of respect as another Ferrara movies. Fear City(1984) is a precusor to Spike Lee's Summer of Sam(1999). The hero Matt Rossei is the typical Ferrara person who is guilt ridden and is continously searching for the pain relieving rewards of redemption. Influenced heavily by Maniac(1980), Fresh York Ripper(1982), and The Godfather(1972). Like most of Abel Ferrara's films, Fear City(1984) was horribly slash to prevent it from getting an X rating. The opening attack is reminscent of the first attack of Thana in Ms. 45(1981). Melenie Griffith has never before or since looked and acted with an erotic and sexy quality like she does in Fear City(1984).


Although FEAR CITY is provocatively titillating, and sex drenched, it really never manages to seduce. However, the movie does a remarkable job of capturing the essence of early 80's tawdry 42nd St. Midtown Manhattan (Pre-Disneyfication). And, the movie boasts a cavalcade of 80's talent; Tom Berenger, Billy Dee Williams, Melanie Griffith, and Rae Dawn Chong. Although director Able Ferrara was throttled by too many producers, he has still managed to craft a fairly interesting picture. What makes FEAR CITY slightly unusual is the treatment of the killer. In most movies of this nature, the basic aim is to identify and demonstrate the Evil Doer's, Means, Motive, and Opportunity. However, in FEAR CITY Ferrara only shows the manifestation of the killer's violence, and nearly nothing is divulged of his hero or motivation. The assassin is shown as a mere cipher, and such a depiction is more in keeping with the Horror Category rather than Detective Fiction. FEAR CITY is certainly not a nice film, or even one of Able Ferrar's better efforts, but it is still worthy of a look.


This early flick from Abel Ferrara piles on the sleaze as it deals with a group of strippers being hounded by an unknown night-time assailant; from a surprisingly nice cast for such cheap exploitation fare, Melanie Griffith scores greatest as the most famous stripper around, who also happens to be her moody boss (Tom Berenger)'s ex, indulges in a lesbian relationship on the side (with fellow stripper Rae Dawn Chong) and turns into a full-blown junkie when the latter dies at the hands of our nice friend, the serial killer. Great clean family fare, then, right? While the movie remains watchable throughout and even has a handful of amusing sequences (most notably when, having been mistaken for the killer, the wrong guy gets beaten up in the kitchen of one of these clubs) and performances (in particular, Michael V. Gazzo as an irascible strip-joint owner), it is seriously damaged by a frankly dull character (or rather anti-hero, since we're basically talking about an ex-boxer-turned-pimp here) and a very silly villain (a karate expert/fitness freak/budding writer). Billy Dee Williams also stars as an irate cop disgusted by all the squalor around him and Rossano Brazzi turns up for a gratis plate of pasta as the pre-requisite "respectable" mobster overseeing NYC's underworld. For the record, the movie was originally bankrolled by Twentieth-Century Fox but they eventually sold the property to an independent company in view of its objectionable content and a cleaned-up, padded-out ver eventually made the rounds on US TV and European videos; also, the actor testing the serial assassin remains uncredited to the end, just as the killer's name is never known throughout the film.



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