In the seedy New York City of the 1980s, a psychotic killer is on the loose, stalking and killing strippers who work at various nightclubs. Affected by these killings are Matt and Nick, two consummate lowlives whom run a booking agency which caters exotic dancers to the mafia-controlled strip clubs spread all over Manhattan. Between Al Wheeler, a persistent police detective on the case, and the Mafia's desire to get this problem solved, Matt must come to grips with his inner demons and stop this psychotic killer before he murders again. Abel Ferrara's Fear City is a sleazy, crime drama that excels at transporting the viewer into the dark underbelly of 1980s New York. Ferrara has never been a filmmaker to shy away from nudity and/or violence and Fear City has plenty of both. The opening twenty minutes or so are spent introducing the setting, showing Times Square as a grimy place where people go to fulfill their lust-fueled desires. Ferrara's camera always seems to linger far longer than most filmmakers, showcasing a cynicism and stomach which few share. At the center of the film's narrative lies Matt, a former boxer, intent on escaping from his troubled past. I'm not sure the romantic thread concerning Matt and Loretta was necessary at all, but Loretta's constant struggles with drug abuse add another layer for Matt to overcome. Fear City spends a fare amount of time with its main villain, giving the audience a lot of insight into his warped perspective. This is a man who is very methodical, highly intelligent, and truly believes what he is doing is for the betterment of society. Make no mistake, Fear City is quite cheesy at times, particularly the laughable pre-fight montage before the climax,but it's another unique film by Ferrara that has a perverse romanticism to its seedy story.
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