Criterion’s April titles include Coppola’s Rumble Fish and Wim Wenders’ Buena Vista Social Club https://t.co/1PmfiylRaB
New York Ripper, The
Release Date(s)1982 (September 29, 2009)
Studio(s)Fulvia Film (Blue Underground)
Hey, remember my review of Takashi Miike’s Audition awhile back? In it, I remarked that the film defies simple categorization as either misogynistic or feminist. Well, let there be no such confusion with Lucio Fulci’s 1982 stalk ‘n’ slash, The New York Ripper. This is one brutal sadorama in which the ladies are most assuredly on the losing end.
The title itself tells you everything you need to know. A killer with a voice like a duck (yeah, you read correctly... a duck) is on the loose in the Big Apple, ripping young women apart with an enormous knife. Jack Hedley plays the detective in charge of the case, a good cop who just happens to visit a prostitute for stress relief from time to time. He recruits a psychoanalyst (Paolo Malco) to help build a profile of the killer. Almanta Keller plays the lone survivor of an attack. She IDs a creepy two-fingered guy with a strange connection to a rich, sexy swinger with a thing for kinky sex games. At various points, any or all of these people could be the killer. You’d have to dump a tanker of curry into the Atlantic to find more red herrings.
If you’re familiar with the grindhouse offerings of Italian horror maestro Lucio Fulci, whose work includes The Beyond and Zombie, you already know what to expect here and the movie does not disappoint. If not, be forewarned: the violence is sleazy, graphic and depraved. Razor blades slice through nipples and eyeballs. Throats are slashed wide open. One unfortunate victim even takes a broken bottle up the vagina. Obviously, this is not a movie for the whole family or even most of society. And yet, gore fans will have a tough time getting offended by all this and not because we’re a bunch of desensitized morons. It’s simply hard to take any of this too seriously, especially when the murderer is quacking like a duck while performing these atrocities. The effects are effective and squirm-inducing but you never lose sight of the fact that they are simply effects.
The New York Ripper is, to the best of my knowledge, the first Fulci movie to hit Blu-ray and Blue Underground has brought it to high-def in high style. The picture is shockingly good, free of print damage, crisp and clear without sacrificing detail or grain. It’s a top-notch transfer all around. The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 and in its original mono. The 7.1 remix isn’t all that impressive but both certainly do an effective job.
A smattering of extras includes a 10-minute interview with actress Zora Kerova. Her part is relatively small but her reminiscences of working with Fulci and other Italian horror directors like Umberto Lenzi on Cannibal Ferox and Bruno Mattei are extremely interesting and candid. Even better is a brief featurette called NYC Locations Then and Now. One of the great pleasures of The New York Ripper is the footage of 42nd Street and Times Square in all its scuzzy, porn-and-grindhouse-theatre glory. The featurette juxtaposes footage from the movie with new shots of the city in 2009. It’s no secret that the city is considerably changed but even so, it’s startling to see it transform right before your eyes. The all-region disc also includes the film’s original trailer.
Ultraviolent spaghetti horror is not to everyone’s taste. It requires a high tolerance for gleefully sadistic gore, not to mention a willingness to look past lapses in plot, logic and good taste. As a long-time Fulci fan, I think The New York Ripper is gruesome, nasty fun. All others proceed at your own risk.
- Dr. Adam Jahnke