New York Ripper (The) AKA Lo Squartatore di New York (1982)
R0 - Scandinavia - Another World Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Jari Kovalainen (28th November 2007).
The Film

***This section is taken from my earlier 2005 review of the R0 Australian-release by “Stomp Entertainment”, which can be found HERE. “Video”, “Audio”, “Extras”, and “Overall” -sections are completely new.***:


New York is not an entirely new location for the Italian director/co-writer Lucio Fulci. Zombies marching on the Brooklyn bridge in “Zombi 2 AKA Zombie (1979)” is something that many horror-fans will remember. This time Fulci has left his zombies alone and made a film about a serial killer in New York City, in his own gory way of course.

“The New York Ripper” has a reputation, which will probably always follow it. It was banned in many countries, and has been one of those films that many wanted to see badly from day one because its reputation (even when it´s not Fulci´s best film by any means). Stories about the “gruesome murders” and “explicit nudity” made the film already famous, even when it took several years before fans could see it in a proper way, and not from the old VHS-copies and such.

The film starts where the zombies were left off in 1979, near the Brooklyn Bridge. A man and mainly his dog finds a severed hand, and before anything else can happen the main theme kicks in by the legendary composer Francesco De Masi. After this quick and effective opening, Lt. Frank Williams (Jack Hedley) is introduced, and he´s in charge of the investigation of the murders. It appears, that the killer has been calling the first victim, with a “voice of a duck”. Lt. Williams also gets help from the college professor Dr. Paul Davis (Paolo Malco), when they follow the leads from the serial killer. Soon it´ll become a bit personal, since the “duck-voiced” killer also calls Lt. Williams. The cat and mouse game is set.

Most of the reputation of “The New York Ripper” comes from the murder-scenes, which are indeed a bit nasty. Fulci hasn´t actually been portraying the women in his movies in the nicest way possible (well, usually they die), but in here the “tools” which the killer uses are such as razor blades and broken bottles, so the results are not pretty. The gore-scenes are still under certain “limits”, but not for the faint hearted, that´s for sure.

To me, the most surprising (if you have to find one) aspect of the film is the nudity and erotic scenes, which are not the usual images that you´ll see in the films by Lucio Fulci. Sex addict Jane Lodge (Alexandra Delli Colli) brings some erotic flavor to the film, and you have e.g. a lengthy scene in the sex show also. This was the time (early 1980s) when a couple of additional sex-scenes in the movie would make the marketing of the film easier for some areas, but then again those scenes bring a certain “Taxi Driver”-type of grittiness to the film from the sleazy underworld of New York City.

In the end, “The New York Ripper” fails in the quite important factor: The film is a bit uninteresting. Sure, there are some well executed (no pun intended) scenes, violence for the fans of gore, and some “giallo-ish” atmosphere, but in the end you don´t have that much to write about. If you want to see Lucio Fulci in his prime, there are several better movies to do so, e.g. “The Beyond AKA E Tu Vivrai Nel Terrore - L'Aldilà (1981)”, “A Lizard in a Woman's Skin AKA Una Lucertola con la pelle di donna (1971)”, and “Don't Torture A Duckling AKA Non Si Sevizia Un Paperino (1972)”.

Video

Danish based “Another World Entertainment” has released “The New York Ripper” in their “Giallo Series”-line with very good results. The film is presented in Anamorphic 2.35:1 and the transfer is quite sharp and well balanced, with solid black levels. To my eyes, it´s on the same, good level as the R0 Australian-release. Compared to the R0 US-release by “Anchor Bay”, the dark areas on the AWE-transfer are more detailed and the US-release is somewhat “murkier” (black levels are not spot on). US-release is also bit more on the softer side and I also noticed a few compression issues.

Since we´re not living in a perfect world, AWE-release has some film artifacts (along with grain) during the scenes where the US-release is cleaner. The skin tones and the general colour scheme tend to be more on the brownish side with the AWE-release, while the US-release seemed a bit more vivid in terms of colours alone. Generally the AWE-release still looked more natural and pleasant to my eyes and should keep the fans of the film happy. “Dual layer” disc is coded for “R0” and the film runs 88:57 minutes (PAL). It has 7 chapters.

One notable advantage of this Scandinavian-release is the fact that it´s basically the most complete version of the film on DVD. I have also both the R0 US and R0 Australian-releases, which are either missing one scene or misplacing another. The two scenes in question are as follows (not censorship related) - it could be that the scenes are sourced from another print:

***

1 - The first scene in question happens when Lt. Williams (Jack Hedley) and Dr. Davis (Paolo Malco) walk out from the hospital and are having a conversation. The scene ends when Lt. Williams drives away with his car and Dr. Davis eventually starts walking away (he refused the ride). He turns to look at the car and the scene ends in freeze frame (and the music kicks in). The scene should then fade to black and move to the next scene (shot of the neon hotel sign). This scene is complete in the AWE-release and can be found between the time codes of 42:03-43:04 minutes.

In the R0 US-release (by “Anchor Bay”) the scene starts normally, but after Lt. Williams drives away, the scene suddenly cuts (roughly when the loud car horn sound is heard) and moves to the next scene (shot of the neon hotel sign). The missing bit (approx. 15 seconds) from the original scene is for some reason misplaced at the end of the film (time code 90:54-91:10 minutes). In the US-release, it´s placed after the shots of the little girl calling (“Daddy please don´t leave me alone!”) and the exterior shot of the noisy street (with ambulance). After the “Dr. Davis walking away”-shot we see the little girl crying one more time and then the last shot of the film from the helicopter. R2 French-release (by “Néo Publishing”) is also the same (shot is misplaced).

In the R0 Australian-release (by “Stomp Entertainment”), the scene first plays like in the R0 US-release (also cuts in similar fashion when Lt. Williams drives away), but this time the 15 second “Dr. Davis walking away”-shot IS missing completely from this print (same thing with R0 Dutch –release by “Italian Shock Entertainment”).

2 - The second scene happens between Dr. Davis (Paolo Malco) and his secretary, running approx. 1:32 minutes. The secretary is looking at the photos in the office, when Dr. Davis arrives. He first teases the secretary and then they have a conversation about the profile of the “ripper”. This scene should arrive after the scene where Lt. Frank Williams (Jack Hedley) is interviewing Dr. Lodge (Cosimo Cinieri) and in the AWE-disc it´s between the time codes 53:47-55:19 minutes. After the “Dr. Davis & secretary”-scene the film should move to the exterior shot of the house and then to the scene where Scellenda's landlady is questioned.

In the R0 US-release (by “Anchor Bay”) the “Dr. Davis & secretary”-scene is intact (timecode 55:50-57:23 min).

In the R0 Australian-release (by “Stomp Entertainment”) the “Dr. Davis & secretary”-scene IS missing completely.

Based on the other reports (mainly by Michael Mackenzie in his Whiggles.com-site), also R0 Dutch (by “Italian Shock Entertainment”) and the “shorter version” of the R2 French-release (by “Néo Publishing”) are missing this shot.

Audio

As expected, the disc includes one audio track: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. Optional Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish subtitles are included. The mono-track is also very good for the film of this age. The dialogue is quite clear and the track is generally clean (only minor hiss if you turn the volume up). No real complaints.

Extras

Another pleasant surprise in the AWE-release is the extras, since some great interviews are ported from the R2 French-release. While all three documentaries are in Italian, this time also optional English subtitles are included in all of them (which wasn´t the case with the French-release).

-“Howard Ross AKA Renato Rossini” -featurette runs 19:04 minutes and is an interview with actor Howard Ross, who played the sleazy Greek Mickey Scellenda in the film. Ross broke through to the Italian film industry as a stuntman and after using the name Red Ross for a while, he was known as Howard Ross. He did a fair share of tough and physical Peplums in the 1960s and also Spaghetti westerns (his first one was “The Relentless Four AKA I Quattro inesorabili (1965)”). In this interview, Ross mentions many directors from his career; Peter Collinson (“The Man Called Noon AKA Un Hombre llamado Noon (1973)”), Mario Bava (“Five Dolls for an August Moon AKA 5 bambole per la luna d'agosto (1970)”), Sergio Grieco (“One Man Against the Organization AKA L' Uomo che sfidò l'organizzazione (1975)”), Fernando Di Leo (“The Boss AKA Il Boss (1973)”), and Stelvio Massi (“Five Women for the Killer AKA 5 donne per l'assassino (1974)”) all bring more or less good memories to Ross (he regard them as gifted and professional filmmakers). Flavio Mogherini´s “The Pyjama Girl Case AKA La Ragazza dal pigiama giallo (1977)” was a difficult shoot for Ross (he had to wear e.g. painful contact lenses) and during the production of “Desert Commandos AKA Attentato ai tre grandi (1967)”, Umberto Lenzi was quite nervous and difficult for everyone. Ross also recalls how pleasant it was to work with American productions. He also gives a good tip to all the young actors: try to behave on the set, be a professional and work hard. That´s how the producers will remember you. Lucio Fulci is not mentioned on this one, since it´s saved for the other documentary (“Ti ricordi Di Lucio Fulci?”).

-“Francesco De Masi forever…” -documentary is a very lengthy (51:30 minutes) interview with the acclaimed (and fan favorite) composer/conductor. It must´ve been one of his last, since he passed away in 2005. De Masi gives pretty much of his life story in a nutshell and is quite open and honest. His mother was a pianist/singer and his father very passionate to music, so from the early age De Masi already had his eye focused (and ear) to music. After WW2, De Masi eventually chose the horn as his instrument and got his diploma in composition in 1955. His deepest passion still was the film music, so after working with documentaries and as an assistant for his mentor Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, De Masi started gaining name as a gifted film composer. From the early 1960s, he composed one film after another and didn´t really stop until the early 1990s. Like the actor Howard Ross, also De Masi worked with many Peplums and Spaghetti westerns (he claims to have composed the “first Spaghetti western” with “Man of the Cursed Valley AKA L' Uomo della valle maledetta (1964)”), but he did many other genres also.

Among the many anecdotes and stories, De Masi also reveals something about his work philosophy. It´s clear that De Masi didn´t not like to start working just based on a script and he also has the different view towards the Spaghetti westerns. He approached the genre more from the “orchestral” point of view. He often didn´t like to use the typical guitar, harmonica and whistles elements like many composers back in the days. He also talks about teaching and how close he often was with his students. Just like to taking a moment to remember the great composer, the documentary ends with De Masi playing piano. It´s a touching moment and De Masi will be remembered, thanks to his countless “Euro cult”-themes.

-“Ti ricordi Di Lucio Fulci? AKA Do You Remember Lucio Fulci? (pt.2)” -documentary (running 43:28 minutes) is asking the title-question from the friends and co-workers of late Lucio Fulci. These are the people who actually knew the man - as well as anyone could know him, that´s. The interviews includes Fulci historian (“Fulciologue”) Paolo Albiero, fellow genre director Ruggero Deodato, composer Fabio Frizzi, make-up artist Giannetto De Rossi, actors Howard Ross and Gianni Garko, screenwriters Dardano Sacchetti (co-writer of “The New York Ripper”) and Antonio Tentori, special effects supervisor Fabio Traversari (set constructor in “The New York Ripper”), editors Ornella Micheli and Bruno Micheli, cinematographer Sergio Salvati and camera operator Franco Bruni.

This is a must see for the fans of Fulci and quite an interesting study of the difficult, but clearly loved, director. Based on the comments and memories shared in the documentary, the reputation of Fulci being an angry and impulsive - sometimes almost aggressive and jealous - person is pretty much true, but we also learn that he was disciplined on the set and also funny when he wanted to be. He was not an easy man, but usually true to himself. Fulci didn´t pretend, he was always frank in both good and bad. Sacchetti goes a little deeper and says that Fulci probably “suffered in life” and wasn´t a very happy person outside the world of movies. He did enjoy sailing and playing the trumpet, but between his films he was very restless. Several good anecdotes are heard and often they´re also humorous. Those who worked with Fulci had to have a good sense of humour. Many of them probably were closest to what you could call a friend to Fulci. Like Salvati and Bruni state at the end of the documentary, it´s indeed great that the new generation has re-discovered Fulci and his versatile filmography. “Long live Fulci!” indeed. Note, that the documentary (made in 2006) is listed in the menu as “pt.2”, which refers to the fact the “pt.1” of the documentary is included in “Zombi 2 AKA Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979)”-release by AWE.

US theatrical trailer runs 3:10 minutes (no subtitles) and filmographies (in English) are included for actor Howard Ross, actress Alexandra Delli Colli, and director/co-writer Lucio Fulci.

Photo gallery is divided to the following sections:
*6 Italian lobby cards (0:30 sec)
*24 German lobby cards (2:00 min)
*16 French lobby cards (1:20 min)
*10 posters & press books (0:50 sec)
*11 stills (0:55 sec)

Bonus trailers includes “Torso AKA I Corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale (1973)” (3:30 min) and “Puzzle AKA L' Uomo senza memoria (1974)” (3:11 min). Keep case also includes a 4-page booklet, with liner notes (in Danish) by Jesper Moerch.

Overall

“The New York Ripper” is not my favourite film by Fulci, but I have to admit that the film grows over multiple viewings. You don´t find many surprises, but it has gore and exploitation for the fans of that nature and some more traditional “Giallo” for the others. AWE-release is a “must” for the Fulci followers, since not only does it include the longest version of the film, but it also includes great and informative (English friendly) extras. Only omission is probably the making of-featurette of the actual production of “The New York Ripper”, but I´m more than happy with the extras on this one.

This Scandinavian-release is distributed via “Another World Entertainment” in Denmark, “Njutafilms” in Sweden, “Voices Music & Entertainment” in Norway, and “Firebox Records” in Finland.

For more info, please visit the homepage of Another World Entertainment.

The Film: Video: Audio: Extras: Overall:

 


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