The New York Ripper: 3-Disc Limited Edition [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Blue Underground
Review written by and copyright: Robert Segedy (19th July 2019).
The Film

This is a gore houndís wet dream! Loosely based on the true life crimes of Richard Cottingham (1967-1980), "The New York Ripper" is Lucio Fulciís grimmest vision of life in the Big Apple, when 42nd Street was a nightmare show of skin flicks, sex shows and junkies and hookers. Using real life exteriors in his film, Fulci manages to capture New York when it was a truly decadent place. Warning to those that arenít familiar with this film: this is a truly violent film that features many female victims being killed in truly horrific means. As another film used to advertise: Keep on Repeating, Itís only a Movie!

We begin with the typical New York skyline shot with many skyscrapers towering over the landscape; the camera shows us the view from the harbor. We cut to an elderly man out walking his dog in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge; he throws a stick and encourages the dog to retrieve it. It does, so he throws it again, but this time it comes back with more than a stick; in the dogís mouth is a decayed and amputated womanís hand. This scene illustrates Fulciís black sense of humor coming through early on and it gives viewers clear warning that more nastiness is on the way. Fulci takes a true delight in taking the viewerís face and pushing it into a repulsive image and that is merely one of his many trademarks on display here. We abruptly cut to a busy police station and are introduced to the detective in charge of the case, Lt. Fred Williams (Jack Hedley), a rather burned out cop on the trail of yet another sadistic killer. Speaking with the womanís rather loony landlady Mrs. Weissburger (Babette New), who reports that she overheard the victim speaking to a client that spoke in an odd duck like voice including quacking. Williams makes note of it but doesnít really make anything of it. This reviewer however, not only notes it but recalls that Fulci used a similar motif in his splatter film, "Donít Torture a Duckling" (1975) and I have to wonder what this obsession with ducks is all about? As the film progresses we are introduced to a number of characters, but they are either red herrings or merely lambs led to the slaughter purely for the sake of onscreen bloodletting. I am not going to get into a discussion regarding the directorís position as a misogynist, but it is noted that all of the ripperís victims are indeed sexually active females, but hey, this was the 80ís - the heyday of splatter and womanís liberation didnít have much impact at the box office as it would currently.

One of the first victims is a woman seen riding her bike, headed to board the Staten Island Ferry, but she accidentally scrapes her handlebars on a nearby motoristís car. The two exchange words and she rides off to get on board. Not afraid to leave well enough alone, the woman seeks out the manís car and gets in it where she writes an obscenity with red lipstick on the inside of his car windshield, but she is ultimately dispatched by the squawking duck voiced killer with a straight razor. Fulci pulls a fast one here in this scene. The attacker commences with his attack and Fulci cuts away to a scenic landscape shot, making the viewer think that the incident is not going to be shown, however Fulci cuts back to several graphic close ups of the razor as it slashes the victimís body. The woman is trapped inside the car because it is parked adjacent to the boatís hull and she is brutally killed. No reason is supplied for this murder, but we are led to believe that the owner of the car was the killer. The viewer is left to ponder the meaning of this murderous act by a duck voiced killer, but Fulci is not giving away any answers yet.

The lieutenant is getting nowhere fast and so he seeks out the assistance of a university psychoanalyst Dr. Paul Davis (Paolo Malco) who gives him advice on the nature of the killer, but that only fills in time between victims. Soon after we are at a live sex show where an attractive woman Jane Forrester Lodge (Alexandra Delli Colli) sits in the front row before the performers while clutching a small cassette recorder; she is clearly aroused by the wanton display and several seats away sits a nasty looking individual with only three fingers on his right hand. We are led to believe that this man, Mickey Scellenda (Howard Ross) is the killer, but Fulci is merely playing with the audience and it is another plot swerve. Soon afterwards these two hook-up for a bout of some heavy duty S&M shenanigans and it is here that Fulci stages one of his most skillful and suspenseful scenes. While Jane is nude and tied to the bedposts in a cheap hotel, her three fingered lover is napping post coital hijinks while the radio plays in the background. Jane is clearly scarred across her breasts indicating that she likes rough trade, but after hearing a police bulletin regarding a three fingered man as being the NY Ripper, she skillfully uses her teeth to untie the binds and manages to free herself. This scene is truly well done and shows that Fulci is a skilled craftsman when he wants to be. Jane manages to gather her clothes and escapes out to the hallway but the fire exit door is locked. She is then attacked by the duck obsessed killer with a straight razor and he leaves her in a bloody heap. So much for the three digits Greek. Some other killings occur along the way as the female sex show participant gets a broken bottle shoved into her but the problem with this type of rampant violence for the sake of violence is that since none of these characters have been developed beyond their brief screen time, we as viewers have no sympathy for them. They are merely empty pawns set up as victims and dispatched in a cruel manner only for a bloody display. This type of killing robs the horror film of its primary purpose, to horrify the audience, thus leaving us, the viewers, as some type of accessory to the fact.

Next we are introduced to a woman who is as close as we get to a leading role, her name is Fay Majors (Almanta Suska) and she doesnít show up till the film is half over. Fay is introduced to us while she is riding the subway alone except then she is menaced by an individual with three fingers on his right hand but that attack morphs into a dream sequence where her boyfriend Peter Bunch (Andrea Occhipinti) attacks her with a razor as well. Coming to from the nightmare she finds herself in the hospital recovering from the injuries sustained in the attack. Hardly a strong female figure, Fay doesnít realize that her subconscious was warning her of something that she should have picked up on earlier. Going home with Peter, Fay is curious about his daughter from a previous marriage room upstairs, but Peter doesnít like anyone going into that room. This is an obvious warning that Fay should have paid attention to, but it isnít until that she overhears Peter speaking in a duck like voice to his daughter in the hospital, that things fall into place.

Meanwhile the lieutenant is confronted via telephone by the killer and he has the detectiveís girlfriend prostitute Kitty (Daniela Doria) tied to the bed and he is going to work her over with a razor blade including a nipple slicing scene that is hard to watch and it truly wouldnít be a Fulci film without an eyeball attack. The lieutenant bursts into Kittyís room, but it is too late and the duck has the last laugh again. Williams finds a body covered in cuts and fresh blood but the killer has long departed. We are then stalled with some scenes with the psychoanalyst visiting Peter and Fay trying to get answers to questions that she canít answer until the climactic scene where Fay realizes who the duck voiced killer is. Yes, it was her boyfriend Peter but his real reasons for killing various young attractive women is because his daughter is in the hospital with an incurable condition and she is prematurely sentenced to an early death. The final scene of the film is one of the grimmest in a long time as the young girl is seen phoning her fatherís empty office and the phone rings and rings without anyone picking up to respond. This Is Fulci at his basest as he has shown us his personal vision of hell on earth and then people complain about this film being cruel! Roll the credits!

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen mastered in HD 1080p 24/fps using AVC MPEG-4 compression and created from a new 4K restoration. The colors are vibrant and the blood is that ghastly shade of red. Those Italians like their red, for sure! Blue Underground is to be commended for doing such an excellent job on this film. Cinematographer Luigi Kuveiller does an excellent job of capturing the Big Apple in the 80ís.

Audio

Five audio tracks are included here in English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround, English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 mono, Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 mono, French Dolby Digital 1.0 mono, and Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 mono. The audio is available in several languages with subtitles and the soundtrack is very good on the lossless 7.1 mix with all the dialogue tracks playing clearly. The soundtrack is reflective of the 80ís with a pseudo disco vibe on several tracks. Optional subtitles are included in English (for Italian audio), English HoH, French, and Spanish.

Extras

Here it is! Lucio Fulci, whose name has become synonymous with extreme horror, presents the film that really put him on the map, once and for all, for splatter fans: "The New York Ripper". Presented in a brand new 4K restoration by those maniacs at Blue Underground, and jammed pack with the types of extras that you have come to expect, this delightful boxed set includes the film on Blu-Ray, a DVD presentation, and a CD with the entire film soundtrack. This is where Blue Underground really shines.

DISC ONE: BLU-RAY

Audio commentary with Troy Howarth, author of "Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films" accompany the film on a separate track. Howarth is a wealth of knowledge on the director and his films and he has much to say about the film.

Next up is "The Art of Killing" interview with co-writer Dardano Sacchetti (29:14, HD), he talk about the writing process.

"Three Fingers of Violence" interview with star Howard Ross (15:08, HD) He talks about the film and his scenes.

"The Second Victim" interview with co-star Cinzia de Ponti (12:14, HD) Everybody liked working for Fulci!

"The Broken Bottle Murder" interview with co-star Zora Kerova (9:24, HD), she shares her memories from the film.

"I'm an Actress" 2009 interview with co-star Zora Kerova (9:30, HD), a well done piece on her entire career as well as her work with Fulci on other films.

"The Beauty Killer" interview with Stephen Thrower, author of "Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci" (22:34, HD), great piece from a Fulci fan and historian.

"Paint Me Blood Red" interview with poster artist Enzo Sciotti (17:14, HD), he comments on the design of the posters.

"NYC Locations Then and Now" 2009 featurette (4:08, HD), shows some of the locations then and now.

Theatrical trailer (3:20, HD) is also included. As are a collection of Poster & Still gallery (69 images)

DISC TWO: DVD

This is a DVD version of the film with extras.

DISC THREE: CD

This is a nice little bonus: "The New York Ripper" Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD by Francesco De Masi, the track listing is:

01. "New York... One More Day" (2:49)
02. "Phone Call" (1:56)
03. "The Ripper" (3:22)
04. "April Night" (2:40)
05. "The Ballade of the Cobra" (1:29)
06. "Suspense and Murder" (2:45)
07. "A Step Away from Lincoln Center" (3:40)
08. "New York... One More Day" (1:26)
09. "Riptronic" (0:40)
10. "Puerto Rico Club" (3:13)
11. "Fay" (3:17)
12. "New York... One Night" (1:44)
13. "New York... One More Day" (2:07)
14. "Tic Nervoso" (2:26)
15. "Where is the Ripper?" (2:23)
16. "Waiting for the Killer" (2:41)
17. "Riptronic" (1:03)
18. "Phone Call" (4:31)
19. "New York... One More Day" (1:26)
20. "Riptronic" (1:02)
21. "New York... One Night" (2:34)
22. "Fay" (1:16)
23. "Puerto Rico Club" (3:13)
24. "New York... One More Day" (2:49)
25. "New York... One Night" (2:42)
26. "Fay" (3:34)
27. "The Ripper" (1:44)
28. "Puerto Rico Club" (3:13)
29. "New York... One More Day" (1:35)

The set includes a collectable booklet with new essay by Travis Crawford.

Packaging

Comes in a 3D cover slip-case three volume boxed set with a reversible cover as well.

Overall

The film looks so much better than it has previously looked, gone is the gloomy shadows and grainy scenes, replaced with a vibrant color scheme. The city looks good even through the layers of sleaze. Flesh tones are realistic and vibrant, blacks are strong and bold. Fans of the film should rejoice and make this one for their collection.

The Film: A Video: A Audio: A Extras: A Overall: A

 


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