Release Date(s)1982 (August 25, 2020)
Studio(s)Fulvia Film/Silent Warrior Productions (Blue Underground)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: A-
Lucio Fulci’s highly controversial The New York Ripper (AKA Lo squartatore di New York) has been branded over the years as grossly misogynistic by many of its critics, both past and present. What on paper appears to be a perfunctory tale of a New York police detective on the trail of a serial killer is punctuated by some of the most grisly gore effects ever produced for a Fulci production. Add to that a cadre of irredeemable characters and a downer of an ending and you have one of his most-talked about and incendiary works.
The New York Ripper is not easy to dissect critically since it continues to trigger many viewers, including women who are completely justified in doing so. During an era when Italian filmmakers seemed to be trying to one up each other in terms of shock value, it can certainly be seen as the pinnacle. It’s not a casual watch at all. In fact, it’s quite brutal, and unapologetically so, but Fulci’s intentions may not have been to make a film about torturing and murdering women simply for the sake of it. If that were the case, the killer might have been more of an Ed Gein or Ted Bundy type, or at least someone who despises women more overtly. When the killer is revealed and we learn why they’re doing what they’re doing, it becomes clear that these are crimes motivated by the bitterness of the circumstances, and not an indignant director.
That said, the moments of violence are nearly unparalleled, and continue to be censored in places like the UK where the film was unavailable legally for many years. Besides the murder sequences themselves, the film also has a rather grim ending, one that’s uncharacteristic for a giallo film (or a slasher film for that matter). In essence, to simply refer to The New York Ripper as nothing more than antagonist towards women... well, it’s more complicated than that. Overlooked are the sequences of suspense, as well as the performances. And if the point of the film was to push buttons, you certainly can’t fault it for its effectiveness at doing so.
The New York Ripper was shot on 35 mm film in Techniscope. It was finished on film as a cut negative with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. The 66GB double layered Ultra HD is sourced from a 4K 16-bit scan of the original uncut and uncensored camera negative (also used for the recent Limited Edition Blu-ray release). It features a high dynamic range color grade in Dolby Vision (with HDR10 available as well). Like Blue Underground’s recent UHD release of The House by the Cemetery, the color palette on previous Blu-ray releases of The New York Ripper range from washed out to rich and colorful with a minor push towards blue. This new UHD strikes a happy medium, giving skylines a more natural tint while allowing other colors, such as greens and reds, to pop without compromise. Skin tones are also much more natural comparatively. The HDR pass brings out further depth in the shadows, allowing for richer blacks, and boosting the slightly adjusted color palette. Everything appears a tad brighter and warmer, but never blown out. Grain levels are organic with a steady but smooth appearance and the image is clean and stable throughout. The amount of disc space and higher encode allow the presentation more breathing room as well.
The audio is included in English Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 and mono DTS-HD, Italian mono DTS-HD, and French and Spanish mono Dolby Digital. Subtitle options include English SDH, French, Spanish, and English for the Italian audio. The new Dolby Atmos track does a much better job at spacing out the film’s original mono soundtrack than the 5.1 track does, though a slight volume adjustment might need to be made depending upon one’s setup. The English mono track is flat and narrow, but represents the film’s original theatrical audio well. It’s clean with no leftover damage while dialogue is clear, although slightly loose against the picture like most post-dubbed films. Score, music tracks, and sound effects are a bit cramped, but offer good fidelity. The Italian mono track is tinnier by comparison, but not as flat with more pronounced ambiance.
The following extras are also included:
DISC ONE: UHD (FILM)
- Audio Commentary with Troy Howarth
- International Theatrical Trailer (HD – 3:24)
DISC TWO: BLU-RAY (FILM + EXTRAS)
- Audio Commentary with Troy Howarth
- The Art of Killing (HD – 29:14)
- Three Fingers of Violence (HD – 15:08)
- The Second Victim (HD – 12:14)
- The Broken Bottle Murder (HD – 9:24)
- “I’m an Actress!” (HD – 9:30)
- The Beauty Killer (HD – 22:34)
- Paint Me Blood Red (HD – 17:14)
- NYC Locations: Then and Now (HD – 4:08)
- International Theatrical Trailer (HD – 3:20)
- Poster & Still Gallery (HD – 67 in all)
The audio commentary with author Troy Howarth covers many facets of the film—including its production, its cast and crew, its sordid history in the UK, and a defense of its intentions. In The Art of Killing, co-writer Dardano Sacchetti discusses how the projected started, falling out with Fulci, being creative under restrictive circumstances, and his thoughts on the content within his films. In Three Fingers of Violence, actor Howard Ross talks about meeting Fulci, working on his character, shooting in New York, working with Zora Kerova, and respecting his body. In The Second Victim, actress Cinzia de Ponti speaks about being hired for her part, working with Fulci, how she got her stage name, and filming her scenes. In The Broken Bottle Murder, actress Zora Kerova discusses getting the role, her reluctance to do a sex scene, and shooting her death scene. In “I’m an Actress!”, Zora Kerova (in a later interview) talks about not knowing what was required of her until she came to set, the possible sexual orientation of her co-star, and being reprimanded by her home state of Czechoslovakia. In The Beauty Killer, author Stephen Thrower discusses the history of the project, its content, and its controversial release. In Paint Me Blood Red, poster artist Enzo Sciotti talks about his upbringing, drawing and painting posters, his techniques, and his various works over the years. The poster and still gallery features 67 images of posters, press materials, promotional stills, home video covers, and a soundtrack sleeve.
Not included from the Limited Edition release is the DVD copy of the film; a CD soundtrack containing 29 tracks of Francesco De Masi’s score for the film; and a 20-page insert booklet containing the essay Fulci Quacks Up: The Unrelenting Grimness of The New York Ripper by Travis Crawford, soundtrack information and a track listing, and chapter selections. For completists, the Shameless UK Blu-ray release features a 19-minute interview with Antonella Fulci and Dardano Sacchetti, while a French Region 2 DVD release from Neo Publishing contains a number of exclusive interviews.
Blue Underground continues their streak of quality UHD presentations combined with bountiful and entertaining bonus materials with The New York Ripper. It certainly isn’t to everyone’s taste, but it’s an essential purchase for giallo fans and well worth revisiting. Highly recommended.
– Tim Salmons