A blade-wielding psychopath is on the loose, turning The Big Apple bright red with the blood of beautiful young women. As NYPD detectives follow the trail of butchery from the decks of the Staten Island Ferry to the sex shows of Times Square, each brutal murder becomes a sadistic taunt. In the city that never sleeps, he's the killer that can't be stopped!
Written and directed by acclaimed horror maestro Lucio Fulci (Zombie, City Of The Living Dead) and filmed on location in the mean streets of New York City, The New York Ripper is one of Fulci's most savage and controversial thrillers and is presented here completely uncut and uncensored.
'The New York Ripper,' a Giallo film from Lucio Fulci, may not be one of the best known horror films out there. In fact, 'Ripper' ('Lo squartatore di New York') is one of those flicks that got forced underground, getting the occasional home video release in countries in which it wasn't banned (The list of countries saying "Oh hell no!" to 'Ripper' is quite extensive.).
Bizarre is the name of the game. A serial killer is on the loose in New York, slashing and stabbing young females, taunting police at every turn. Basically, think David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam (who haunted New York just five years before this film hit), only with a knife instead of a gun, and instead of a dog possessed by the devil instructing him, this killer quacks like a duck as he gets his jollies with his blade. As the killer leaves a trail of bodies in his wake (with just one survivor), the police, with the help of a chess loving psychology professor, ramp up their efforts to bring down the murderer in their midst.
Advertised on the box art as "The most controversial horror film ever made!," 'The New York Ripper' goes straight for the gut, both in terms of his victims, and his audience. The focus on the attacks against women is controversial at least, especially with the dark sexual undertones accompanying most of the slayings (despite the lack of rape). The close proximity caused by the weapon of choice, penetrating the flesh, only doubles the sexuality of 'Ripper,' blurring the lines between sex and violence.
Throw in the sexuality of the razor blade attack (which has to be seen to be believed), and you have an unsettling bit of cinema that may hit too close to home. My girlfriend, a budding horror buff, had to leave the room when watching this film with me, due to a mixture of both disgust and offense at the film's content.
New York City is a major character, as much as even the killer, or the police hunting him down, as most of the film is shot on location. The streets are filled with shadows, and potential perps. The subway is covered in graffiti and filth. Times Square is loaded with adult oriented peep shows and sex shops, attracting the kind of customer one would imagine could kill random people. The roads are crowded with the rude and impatient, but surprisingly, sidewalks are bare.
I was surprised that Berkowitz was not once mentioned in the film, despite his effect on the city in terms of sheer terror and fear. 'Ripper' doesn't give itself an exact date or timeline, but being filmed so soon after his attacks, perhaps the writers didn't want the film villain to be compared or overshadowed. But really, what historical killer could draw comparisons with the film's killer, who sounds like a Turkish bootleg Donald Duck, both on the phone bragging about his crimes, and as he gets his slash on?
'The New York Ripper' is an entertaining ride, but it suffers from predictability, violence that pales by modern standards (except the razor sequence, which is epic), and a truly bizarre sense of self awareness. I couldn't tell if what I was seeing was meant to be the thoughts of the killer, his surviving victim, or the men hunting him down, as the film changed tones and focus a few times too many to be perfectly clear. The sexuality can get a bit perverse, including one of the strongest fetish scenes I've seen outside of adult cinema. Still, those who like their horror loaded with blood and nudity should find something to enjoy here. Fans of Donald Duck may never look at the ill tempered Disney character the same ever again.
'The New York Ripper' rips Blu-ray a new one with an AVC MPEG-4 encode that is truly killer. I was quite pleasantly surprised by the appearance of this film on high def.
Colors are strong, never looking fuzzy or bleeding. Color banding, edge enhancement, and DNR are not issues. There are some moments with ringing, but this issue appears on characters in front of bright objects. The grain level is hefty, but pleasant, never obscuring finer detail, never getting in the way of a nice grisly kill shot. There's also a bit of debris on the camera in the pre-title shots, with a black curving line that looks like a scratch, only it doesn't move position or disappear.
The opening credits are incredibly shaky, but really, I highly doubt this was some high budget shoot. Digital noise shows up a few times, but is nowhere to be found through most of the film. Skin tones are accurate, sometimes a bit on the light side, but one shot in the middle of the film goes haywire, with skin going flush and pale to bright red with hints of blue noise. Perhaps it was just patriotism, who knows. For a 1980's Giallo film, 'The New York Ripper' looks fantastic!
While the video qualities on 'The New York Ripper' are superb, I was disappointed with the audio, which is presented with two (English) options: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, or the original Mono, presented in Dolby Digital. Since the lossless mix was the souped up track, which is also the default, I gave that version a spin, and was left wondering if it was the most inactive 7.1 I'd ever heard.
Dialogue is clearly prioritized, though occasionally has feedback wrapping every word, with "s" sounds getting a lisp treatment in a few scenes. An early sequence in a hospital has a high pitched squeal that really got on my nerves, but the sound was never in any other sequence, so it was more than likely just ambience. The synth soundtrack doesn't hit any highs or lows, lounging lazily in the midrange, but ironically, this uninspired bit of music is the most active surround user for the entire film. While technically 7.1, the lossless track is abundantly front heavy, hardly rocking any bass or rear speakers. Throw in a few lip synching issues and a handful of scenes loaded with background static, and you have a mix that is limited by its elements. It appears 'The New York Ripper' will forever be stuck in the '80's, at least in the audio department.
The supplements package for 'The New York Ripper' matches the Special Edition DVD release of the film, with a smidgen of extras including:
'The New York Ripper' may not be your cup of tea, horror fan or not. Are you squeamish? Stay home. Do you like your violence sexist and graphic? Tune in. You a fan of bad Donald Duck impressions? You're in for a treat! This Blu-ray has great video and average audio, but a sparse supplement package. Still, worth a look for those who may have never heard of the film, a group of people who more than likely greatly outnumber those who do.