Blu-ray Review – The New York Ripper
It took me a while, but I have finally acquired a taste for Lucio Fulci’s films. I’ll admit that it took me a while. Fulci’s name gets tossed around a lot with those other two Italian horror masters: Dario Argento and Mario Bava. While I don’t think Fulci approaches the technical level of those directors, he certainly knows how to make some wild and nutty horror films. “The New York Ripper” is definitely no exception.
There’s a vicious killer stalking the streets of New York, and the prey is beautiful women. As the police begin linking killings together; the murderer begins to reach out to them, taunting them with a Donald Duck voice. Yep, you read that right. The killer talks like Donald Duck. I did mention Fulci knows how to make nutty films. Anyway, the police enlist the help of a psychologist to create a profile to aid in their investigation of the murderer as the killer continues to strike.
That’s pretty much it as far as story goes. As is typical for these types of movies, it’s all about the mood and the killings and such. Fulci certainly pushes the limits there. This film is vicious and unabashedly violent. Some might say that the violence against women in this film and the way they are treated is so extreme as to be misogynistic. I’m not sure if I would go that far. The film certainly pulls no punches, though.
Part of the fun of “The New York Ripper” is that it really wallows in sleaze. The movie showcases a New York that doesn’t really exist today. While Fulci and the actors are Italian, the film was actually shot in New York. It’s a time when porn theaters and live sex show advertisements littered the landscape, and Fulci takes you deep into this world, only with more blood splattered around.
“The New York Ripper” might be extreme, but there are always odd elements that come up to prevent it from getting too out of hand. For me, the biggest thing is the voice of the killer. How can you retain fear when the killer sounds like that? You really can’t, but its rather surreal inclusion helps prevent the film from getting too bleak.
This really feels like Fulci to the extreme, and that’s saying something! Those who are familiar with Fulci’s films will know what type of thing to expect, but newcomers should maybe not make this their first Fulci experience, unless sadistic violence isn’t a problem.
Blue Underground has done yet another stellar job on one of their Blu-rays. I have really been impressed with all of the Blu-rays I have seen from Blue Underground, and this one might be the best visual presentation of all of them. The film was remastered in HD from the original camera negative, and it looks incredible. The level of detail is impressive, and there’s some great presence of grain. This really is impressive.
The audio has been beefed up to a 7.1 track (the original mono is also included), but it really doesn’t do too much. These audio remasters rarely are able to do too much extra. Really, either audio option would be all right. That’s not to say the audio isn’t good. It’s very clean and there aren’t any issues. This just isn’t going to be a really active audio track.
There aren’t too many extras here, but I liked what was included. There’s an interview segment called “I’m an Actress!” with Zora Kerova, one of the victims in the film. It’s an entertaining interview, and it’s fun to hear about her experiences on the show. It certainly would have been nice to get some more anecdotes from other people, though.
The highlight of the extras was NYC Locations Then and Now. This short segment has no narration or dialogue. It simply shows exterior shots from the movie and then shows what that location looks like today. It shows just how much big corporations have taken the landscape, as shops and tourist traps have taken the place of the porno theaters in the film. Is this progress? I’ll let you decide for yourself.
It’s a Wrap
“The New York Ripper” provides a tour into a sleazy New York that now only exists in films like this one. Watching that backdrop is part of the scandalous fun in the film. And then there’s the crazy killings and even crazier killer. As I said earlier, this is extreme Fulci. If that’s your thing, you’re going to have a lot of fun with this movie. If you are a bit squeamish toward savage violence, maybe you should look elsewhere. Or just be prepared to close your eyes. A lot.
Film: 3.5 out of 5
Audio/Video: 4.5 out of 5
Extras: 2 out of 5