Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fear City (1984, Abel Ferrara)

Continuing on with reviews of Abel Ferrara films, the king of "dirty city films", here we have Fear City. I came across a bootleg of this about a year ago when I was into some of Ferrara's other films but never got around to watching it. I started watching his films again recently and was glad that I still had Fear City. From what I had read about it, it seemed similar to a lot of his other films though it boasted a much "bigger" cast then his other early films. By bigger I mean more famous (at least for the time). After the attention Ferrara received for his first two films, Driller Killer and Ms. 45, he was given a bigger budget and well known actors to create this film. I recently read that it was similar to Lucio Fulci's New York Ripper, which also made it a film I had to watch.

Matty Rossi (Tom Berenger) is an ex boxer who now runs a strip club in NYC. Along with his partner Nicky (Jack Scalia), they soon start losing their women one by one to an unknown killer. On the trail of this psycho is police detective Wheeler (Billy Dee Williams) who is not very fond of the club owners. Matty takes matters into his own hands to protect his dancers, especially Loretta (Melanie Griffith), who he is in love with.

Fear City is like a big budget version of Ferrara's earlier two films (Driller Killer and Ms. 45). It has all the sleazy big city locales (strip clubs, dark alleys, etc) you'd expect from Ferrara but also some people you've actually heard of (at least in the 80's). Melanie Griffith appears (right before her breakout role in De Palma's Body Double) mostly naked throughout the film, which is a treat. Berenger is a fun tough guy who has one of the worst hairdo's and leather jackets ever captured on celluloid. Billy Dee Williams is good as a hard nosed cop and also featured are early performances by Rae Dawn Chong, Maria Conchito (before the Alonso) and Ola Ray (Michael Jackson's girlfriend from the Thriller video). Overall, the movie is very dated and a little silly, but sleazy enough to not just be another throwaway 80's crime film. The villain is a little lacking in depth but he excels in weirdness. Overall, worth a watch (if you can find a copy).

Getting a cash advance isn't nearly as sleazy as the strip club in Fear City.


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