Night Ripper! (1986)

Originally published in Bleeding Skull! A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey.

Night Ripper! is an unbelievable slasher-soap-opera that stars the “Soup Nazi” from SEINFELD. This is also known as the culmination of a dream that you’ve never had, but wish you’d had a thousand times.

A man (Larry Thomas aka the Soup Nazi) with a mustache, slight lisp, and large burgundy eyeglasses states, “I was a butcher for five years and now I’m a photographer. Anything can happen.” Indeed, this statement is most profound. Anything can happen. And, within the lexicon of SOV trash, it often does. Which is why Night Ripper!, a slasher that focuses on the throes of relationships rather than slashing, remains an anomaly. Nothing much happens. Still, my enthusiasm cannot be concealed. Updating the legend of Jack The Ripper in the neon-soaked haze of 1986, this movie plays out like an episode of Days Of Our Lives that was spiked with cologne from the set of 21 Jump Street. Plus gratuitous face-stabbings. And lines like, “Baby, I wish you were here to do it to me.”

Somewhere south of Synth-Pop Heaven and west of Convertible Jaguars (a tough place to find), lives The Ripper and his shiny knife. Yet, while The Ripper stabs his model-victims in the face (freeze frame) and mutilates their bodies (we don’t see it), all is not well. Since the characters don’t have names, I can only relate the following: Love at first sight is possible, as long as the person you’re falling in love with is having her glamour shot taken. Fiancées cannot be trusted. Finally, when your mistress yells, “This isn’t love — this is two sweaty bodies fucking under a flood lamp! AND I’M TIRED OF FLOOD LAMPS!”, it might be a good idea to listen to her.

Featuring a synth-pop soundtrack that sounds like an inebriated jam between Depeche Mode and someone’s dad, scumbags having sleazy sex in grimy apartments, and a bizarro climax in a mannequin factory, Night Ripper! is an unheralded slice-of-the-evil-life from the direct-to-video trenches. This movie steers clear of the misogyny found in director Jeff Hathcock’s other “hits” (Fertilize The Blaspheming Bombshell; Victims!) — and that’s good news for everyone. The film essentially boils down to a handful of colorful characters, their sometimes amusing dialogues, and the most hilariously convoluted slasher motive since Hospital Massacre. Bathtubs are scummy. Overhead lights buzz. The brief gore bits reside somewhere between the tame knife killings in Blood Cult and the full-on body massacres in Cannibal Campout. Throw in the killer’s silk mask, about 1.5 seconds of The Beatles’ “If I Fell,” and a ton of driving padding, and you’ll eventually fall asleep. Unless there’s a flood lamp in close proximity.

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