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The New York Ripper (1982)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/25/2019
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/13/2019
Ask most people who Lucio Fulci is and they’ll have no idea who you’re talking about. But, if you ask horror movie fans about Fulci, they will tell you that he’s seen as a horror icon in some circles. In the 1980s, Fulci became one of the primary voices in supernatural films from Italy, helming memorable (but not necessarily good) movies like Zombie, The House by the Cemetery, and The Beyond. However, those who are familiar with Fulci’s gore films may not be aware that he was an incredibly prolific filmmaker, directing over 50 feature films in his career. And a good portion of these fell outside of the horror genre. At times, Fulci showed a penchant for making erotic films, such as The Devil’s Honey and My Sister In Law. His 1982 effort, The New York Ripper, offers a bizarre hybrids of two of Fulci’s passions.
Several women have been brutally murdered in New York City, and Detective Fred Williams (Jack Hedley) is at a loss for clues, save for the fact that the murderer likes to cut his female victims open. To make matters worse, the killer has begun to call Williams, where he taunts the policeman and says “Quack quack” throughout the conversation. Desperate for answers, Williams turns to psychology professor Dr. Paul Davis (Paolo Malco), hoping that he can create a profile of the maniac. They catch a break when a young woman named Fay (Almanta Keller) is able to escape the killer’s clutches. Using her description, they finally have something more to go on, but can they catch the creep before her murders again?
You don’t have to see many movies to know that there is often a lot of hype involved in their promotion and most of the time, said hype is undeserved. In other words, most films don’t live up to their reputations. This can certainly be said for Fulci’s films. When the movies in his 80s lineup appeared, many of them were considered gory and most were released unrated. However, when seeing them today, the gore effects often look silly and the movies are nowhere near as intense as they were once made out to be. One can only assume there are many who watch Fulci’s films after reading about them and think, “I don’t get it.”
The same cannot be said for The New York Ripper. This film has been described as brutal, misogynist, and controversial and all of these things are true. On the surface, the film isn’t that much different from the legion of slasher films which appeared in the early 80s, and plenty of those films had gory murders. However, The New York Ripper is different. Here, the camera lingers as the female victims are eviscerated and their breasts are assaulted. The silliness found in Fulci’s other movies is often absent here and the deaths have a definite viciousness to them. The other thing about the film which is often reported is that the killer talks like Donald Duck when he calls and taunts Detective Williams. This is inaccurate, he does talk in an odd voice, but he just says “Quack, quack” a lot. Whatever the case, there’s no doubt that it’s weird.
And that’s The New York Ripper in a nutshell – it’s weird. On the one hand, we have a straight ahead murder-mystery which contains all of the trappings of the giallo. There are murders, red herrings, and an ending which doesn’t make a lot of sense. And following in that great Italian tradition, the movie works way too hard to let us know that some of it was actually shot in New York. On the other hand, we have the quacking killer and the terribly ferocious murders which put the film in a different category. We also have the overt sexuality, which often borders on softcore porn, most of which involves a character who appears to be in a different film. The New York Ripper doesn’t really work as a mystery, but as a piece of sadistic cinema, it is certainly memorable.
The New York Ripper takes us back to a time when The Big Apple was a truly dangerous place on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Blue Underground. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 35 Mbps. As usual, Blue Underground has put a great deal of work into the transfer and it looks great. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only mild grain and no overt defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The depth works very well and we don’t get the flat look which often taints films from this period. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The audio is well-balance and there is some notable bass at times. However, the surround effects some somewhat weak, with most of the audio coming from the front and center channels. Overall, this sounds like a stereo track at best.
The New York Ripper Blu-ray Disc contains several extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from author Troy Howarth. “The Art of Killing” (29 minutes) offers an interview with Co-Writer Dardano Sacchetti. “Three Fingers of Violence” (15 minutes) allows actor Howard Ross to talk about his experiences on the film. Likewise, “The Second Victim” (12 minutes) is an interview with actress and victim Cinzia de Ponti. One of the more notorious acts of violence in the film is explored in “The Broken Bottle Murder” (9 minutes) with actress Zora Kerova. Kerova returns in an interview from 2009 in “I’m an Actress!” (10 minutes). “The Beauty Killer” allows Stephen Thrower, the author of Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci to discuss the director (23 minutes). Poster artist Enzo Sciotti reflects on his art in “Paint Me Blood Red” (17 minutes), which offers some great examples of his work on various films. “NYC Locations Then and Now” (4 minutes) is a brief video with comparison videos of the city. We get the THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film, plus a “Poster & Still Gallery”.
Review Copyright 2019 by Mike Long