Fear City - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Fear City Reviews

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February 19, 2015
A serial killer and an expert on martial arts is preying on strippers in Manhattan's Times Square in New York. Night after night, he visits smoky strip clubs, waiting for his victims and then randomly slashing and killing them. Matt Rossi (Tom Berenger) is a former boxer trying to escape his past whom is currently employed at a talent agency which caters exotic dancers to mafia-controlled strip clubs all over Manhattan. Matt and his business partner, Nicky Parzeno (Jack Scalia), are relentlessly dogged by Al Wheeler (Billy Dee Williams), a persistent police detective on the case of the murdered strippers, and is hoping to find something to nail both Matt and Nicky on. Matt is trying at the same time to reconcile with his former flame, Loretta (Melanie Griffith), whom also works as a dancer. With the police constantly hounding them, and under pressure from the mob to do something about the killings, Matt must somehow face his inner demons to find the killer before he strikes again...

"Fear City" is a low budget b-movie thriller from Abel Ferrara adding a mix of sex, nudity and violence to portray Times Square in the early 80´s, but at the same time he was most certainly looking for tabloid headlines and shock value to get an audience in the cinemas. The movie was originally made by 20th Century-Fox, but they decided that it had too much nudity, sex, violence and drug references for them, so they sold it to the independent Aquarius Releasing. Compared to Ferrara´s quite disturbing, but much more effective and visual "Ms. 45" (1981), this follow up is pretty disappointing. First of all the antagonist, the so called Karate killer makes no sense in my book. I guess due to the success of several martial arts movies back then, they decided that the killer should use martial arts and some how connect his killings to a cleaning of both himself and the city of New York in an eastern philosophical way. Did it work? No. Despite some ok names in the main roles (Berenger, Williams etc), I hardly believe any of them feel all that happy about their performances in this film. Melanie Griffith has never been a very good actress and "Fear City" doesn´t change that fact. It was however nice to see some old 80´s crushes passing by in the shape of Rae Dawn Chong and María Conchita Alonso. Abel Ferrara is good at showing the sleezy side of NYC and that has partly become his brandmark. But, he is quite uneven as a director, and this is a good example of the downside of his profession. The acting is so so, the dialogue so so, the action pretty ridiculous. But, you get a glimpse of some ok tension/ drama once in a while in the film. Nice to have seen it, but "Fear City" is hardly something you would see twice.
Super Reviewer
October 15, 2013
Thriller Fear City follows a psychopathic Grim Reaper killing strippers, and a stripper manager hunting him down. Both the protagonist and the antagonist have background stories. The protagonist was a pro boxer, who's career got cut off. A stupid and cliche background story, which gives the character to much of an invincible feel. The antagonist is a religious nut who's ridding the city of filth, I suppose it's better than just a business rival. This film is sexy galore, the strip club scenes contributed greatly to the film. Whenever the movie was feeling dry the audience can escape to a strip club, which creates a whole new atmosphere. I can appreciate people going to one as an escape now. Well this is until all the good strippers are killed/assaulted/scared for their lives. The kills in this film weren't intense due to how dumb they looked, with a white martial arts master holding nun chucks. The film doesn't have many thrills, but has enough pros to make it somewhat pay off.
December 22, 2012
A great cast but feels like wasted potential thanks to a confusing and flawed script.
November 11, 2012
Billy Dee is barely in this and when he is, he's crazy racist. Mostly its Berrenger's movie and that makes a so-so tale about strippers and a crazy killer. Decent, but not great.
July 30, 2012
Pretty dull trash movie by Abel Ferrara . Performances and dialogue are laughable. Good use of 42nd street NY locations.
April 22, 2012
4/22/2012: not very good
April 15, 2012
Could be I'm a bit generous when giving this 60%, since there are some scenes that I think are all-through lousy. But still I'm giving this 60%, which means I consider it neither good, nor bad, just OK.
It doesn't mean however, I didn't think it wasn't watchable.

The plot is about a "stripper-agency" that has been stricken hard by a couple of attacks on strippers after having finished their shift. It soon stands clear that it's a maniac behind, who sees it as his duty to clean up the "mess" in New York City.
Matt Rossi (Tom Berenger) is a former boxer who is scarred after having accidentally killed an opponent some time ago, but is nowadays running a stripper agency. Though, he himself is not particularly interested in the strippers, except for Loretta (Melanie Griffith) who he's had an on and off-relationship with. While his co-workers is preparing for a war, now when there is a psycho attacking their girls, Matt is not ready to "put his boxing gloves on again", that is, not until the threat is on Loretta....

The whole movie screams low-budget, and you could hardly call the environments particularly charming (or it depends if you like strippers clubs or not :P, but there is some neo-noir core (like the anti-hero "Matt") in it that doesn't feel too ambitious, that I like. And what's more, the theme song is written by David Johansen from New York Dolls! Melanie Griffith reputation as a terrible actress is not really saved, with her performance in this... But Tom Berenger on the other hand, is doing ok, I think. The director, Abel Ferrara has gotten more praise for other movies, like; Bad Lieutenant, and King of New York. Decadence and violence is a common theme in his movies.

I happen to have a weak spot for cult movies, and this is cult!

If you've always wanted to see Melanie Griffith topless, this is the movie for you!
January 11, 2012
Sleazy, ridiculous and over the top at varying turns, this one is so much fun.

A nameless asshole is killing hookers in NYC for reasons that are never made clear; he's just a martial arts enthusiast asshole who wants to torment and murder women who are less than half his size, which makes the attacks look all the more ridiculous.

Not for all tastes I'm sure, but I would highly recommend this one.
½ October 16, 2011
This is one of those cases where even if your not a big Abel Ferrara fan you can still enjoy it.

Fear city is a detective/revenge thriller about cops, hookers, pimps, ex-boxers and a killer. It's centered around two pimps who run a business selling girls to night club owners to strip for there paying customers. But business starts getting a little rough once they find out theirs a killer on the loose who kills women on the street and writes about it in a journal when he gets home. Women are then too afraid to leave there home while others are getting brutally murdered leaving all of the strip joints empty and putting the two pimps in very angry and vengeful states. Meanwhile, Billy Dee Williams is also trying to capture the killer while also keeping a sharp eye on the two pimps.

The only two Ferrara movies I've seen other than this were Bad Lieutenant and The Funeral, and while those two movies were sort of like mood pieces, Fear City is a highly entertaining, 80's crime thriller with a pretty rockin' soundtrack and a really great cast. I'm not saying that this is better than the other 2 Ferrara movies, I just think that this is the most entertaining and is the easiest to watch if you don't have a problem with bare breasted women in thongs.

When the movie ends it has a pretty exciting climax that I wont give away, but it leaves so many unanswered questions regarding the killer, the partner, and the club. It's like Abel had just completely forgotten about all the movie's subplots and just dropped them completely at the final scene.

But problems aside, this is still a fun and entertaining crime story. It's a little different from Abel's previous work which means that anyone can watch it except for kids.
September 21, 2011
worth a look if very bored,watch for early roles for Rae Dawn Chong and Maria Conchita Alonso,loads of naked women about
½ July 24, 2011
Ferrara se fout de ses acteurs qu'il ne dirige pas. Ferrara se fout de l'intrigue. Ferrara se fout des clichà (C)s qu'il nous assène sur les Italo-amà (C)ricains. En revanche, il y a la VILLE! Les rues noires dà (C)trempà (C)es, les appartements sombres même le jour, les clubs de Strip vides ou pleins! Il n'y a que Ferrara qui pouvait faire ça!
July 16, 2011
This movie. I don't even know. They should cover this movie on "How Did This Get Made?"

Overacting to the highest level. Also, the chick from the Thriller video is in this.
July 11, 2011
If not for being directed by Abel Ferrara and written by Nicholas St. John, the team behind the excellent "King of New York", I'm not sure I would have taken much note of this film. However, knowing that there were some talented people behind the camera on this film, I did take it a bit more seriously than say the similarly themed "Vice Squad". There is an excellent cast of character actors and also a pre-famous Tom Berringer and Melanie Griffith in lead roles. Jack Scalia however is woefully outclassesed by the talented cast around him. The story is a typically lurid Ferrara story, about a serial killer targeting strippers. If a film being described at "lurid" sounds like a good thing to you, you'll probably enjoy this film. If "lurid" makes a film sound cheap and tawdry, then you should probably stay away from this one. And one interesting bit of trivia, the killer is never named in the film and the actor did not receive an on-screen credit. The actor is still unknown till this day.
½ April 3, 2011
Abel Ferrara is famous for his gritty and intense action as well as dark tone with equally as dark characters. He does not stray too far from his norm in Fear City, showing much of his signature themes in urban crime. The tones and elements used in his most remembered films such as Bad Lieutenant and King of New York, he first used these skills for this 1984 thriller.

Fear City tells us the story of an ex-boxer (Tom Berenger) who's present business is supplying strippers for clubs and private parties. He and his partner are doing well until strippers start turning up slashed. Police can't figure out if it is gang related but one detective (Billy Dee Williams) is set on catching those responsible. In time, we see a shadowy figure that is responsible for the precise attacks and by now, Berenger is raging, looking for a new kind of fight. His love interest is played by Melanie Griffith, who is a stripper as well, and she may very well be the next target. The tension builds as the body count rises.

It's a flash of lights and skin mixed with moments of gravity and complexity. Berenger retired from boxing after killing his last opponent. The effects of this guilt and his eventual role in the killings are standout features, as well as everything surrounding the killer himself. The killer documenting his thoughts in his notebook (entitled Fear City) as well as the scenes of him stalking his victims is some really intriguing material. I wish there were more of Berenger and the killer as they held my attention the most. There are definitely some of the less fortunate 80's feels and tones to this project and while it goes up and down a bit, it has enough power to hold its own. (C)
½ March 12, 2011
Had never seen this movie from the 80s. A super bad, cheesy, and made me laugh out loud film. The killer, who uses karate, was so cheesy and stupid that I couldn't stop laughing everytime he was on screen. The subplots were unnescessary and kinda stupid. The whole mafia thing was not needed.
½ January 23, 2011
20th Movie of 2011

Suprisingly kind of dull for an Abel Ferrara movie about Billy Dee Williams & Tom Berenger tracking a Kung Fu rapist in Times Square.
½ November 30, 2010
A good thriller movie. Might be "dated" but still good.

An intersting question: The "slasher" in the movie is John Foster, who was not an actor, but a martial arts expert.

I often wonder how such "other tough guys" such as Dolph Lundgren, Arnold, van Damme Segal and others made it --- while Foster didn't. He is far more attractive than (the others), has a body on loan to him from a Greek God, and is very convincing in his portrayal.

The question begs: "Just why do some guys make it -- and others don't?"

"Arnold isn't, with his ridicuolous Austrian accent", van Damme isn't, with his French accent, neither Dolph (Dolf?) nor Segal are exactly "box office" faces. So --- what happened to John Foster and his career?

Not gay ---- just wondering if anyone knows just HOW Hollywood works, and who knows what the bio of John Foster is? In short, why do some guys or gals make it --- and others (far more believeable and talented, don't).

Regards, jimdand
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