Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fear City

The New York Knifer roams the scuzzy streets of the Big Apple, carving up strippers represented by talent agents Tom Berenger (PLATOON) and Jack Scalia, starring in his first film after mild success as a television leading man. Multiple cases of exotic dancers catching the blue flu coincide with news of their colleagues being butchered, and Berenger and Scalia may go broke unless bigoted cops Billy Dee Williams (LADY SINGS THE BLUES) and Daniel Faraldo (I, THE JURY) catch the killer. Finally, after Scalia is kung fu’ed by the serial killer and lapses into a coma, Berenger goes hunting with the backing of mobster Rossano Brazzi (SOUTH PACIFIC) and rival agent Jan Murray (WHO KILLED TEDDY BEAR).

FEAR CITY sat on the shelf nearly 18 months after principal photography until independent distributor Chevy Chase Distribution (no connection to the actor) dropped it into theaters nationwide. Directed by Abel Ferrara, then known for pornography and violent horror movies, FEAR CITY features more sleaze, violence, and nudity than 20th Century Fox, which partially backed the production, was comfortable with. What Fox expected from a director with Ferrara’s resume may be lost to history, but there is little doubt he gave them just what he promised. FEAR CITY is strong stuff for sure, but it’s also a tough, gritty thriller with an excellent cast and an eye-opening view of 42nd Street in all its grindhouse glory.

Scalia, who starred in several television series, including the notorious TEQUILA & BONETTI, without any of them being a hit, shows off a modicum of big-screen charisma and easily holds his own opposite his more experienced co-lead. Berenger gets more to do, however, including pine for his ex-girlfriend, a bisexual stripper played by Melanie Griffith (also in the sexy BODY DOUBLE), who does love scenes with Rae Dawn Chong (TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: THE MOVIE). Great mugs like Michael V. Gazzo (SUDDEN IMPACT) and Joe Santos (THE ROCKFORD FILES) appear, as do gorgeous women like Janet Julian (HUMONGOUS), Ola Ray (10 TO MIDNIGHT), and EXTREME PREJUDICE’s Maria Conchita Alonso in her U.S. film debut.

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