The Film (4.5/5)
The late great horror journalist Chas Balun wrote a small booklet in honor of Lucio Fulci shortly after the maestro's death in 1996. It was titled Beyond the Gates, and is well worth checking out if you are a Fulci fanatic, as I am. It is fairly short, and not very in depth, but it gives a nice honest overview of the oeuvre of Fulci, and touches on his life story. When discussing Fulci's infamous New York Ripper Balun states that
“The New York Ripper remains a hollow, forced, uninspired effort that very few have rallied to support... And why a fuckin' duck?”
I, however, am going to support it. It is probably the second most infamous film to come out of the silver age of Italian horror, behind Cannibal Holocaust. It is a misogynistic, misanthropic, nihilistic, hyper violent, and insanely sexual film, and yes the killer does talk like a duck. It is a no-holds barred type of film, and that is why I unabashedly love it.
I first saw New York Ripper when I was 12 or 13 years old. It already had a reputation among the horror hardcore amongst my friends, and the local Video Library always had a copy in stock, so I took the gamble. Now I do not remember if this release was uncut, and since it was the early 90's, it probably wasn't. I do remember being let down. As a kid I didn’t think about the films politics or morality, I wanted something to scare me, or at the very least gross me out.
I didn't even know the director at the time, to me it was just another slasher that I hadn't seen. In comparison to the steady diet of slasher and splatter films I had been used to New York Ripper didn't seem to be as shocking. It could have been the build-up, but Faces of Death had the same epic build up, and that one actually got to me.
Fast forward to now, New York Ripper courtesy of Blue Underground has become the very first Fulci film to be released in high definition, and a few weeks ago I found it on sale dirt cheap at Amazon. I now knew the films reputation amongst Fulci fans, and horror aficionados, I knew it was considered one of the director's lesser efforts that came at the tail end of his best period, but I took the bite. It was FULCI ON BLU-RAY, and I needed a high def Fulci fix. This time I was not disappointed, and found myself really enjoying the film. The movie and the Blu-ray I found so mind-blowing that when my best friend, another Spaghetti horror fanatic, came over. I used the BD to demo the format to him for the first time.
The New York Ripper tells the story of a killer on the streets of New York City, who is brutally slaughtering women. A detective played by Jack Hedley leads the investigation with the help of a college professor played by Paolo Malco(House by the Cemetery). It is a pretty simple set up, but Fulci executes it well.
The film is packed with the trademark grue that made his reputation, and his direction, while slightly workmanlike, is still quite effective. Some people are taken back by the fact that the killer does indeed quack like a duck during his murders, and on his taunting phone calls to the Detective. I, however, thought it was an effective decision, that made the killer seem all the more disturbing.
The only place the film loses points with me is in the denouement. Simply put, the ending is pretty retarded. It isn't quite as bad as the last 5 minutes of Dario Argento's Opera, but it is still quite silly. However, the lead up to it, definitely makes it worth it. So don't let that stop you from checking it out.
Blue Underground has presented New York Ripper in a quite amazing 2:35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a AVC 1080p encode. The New York Ripper will probably never look better than it does on this blu-ray. The level of detail revealed in this transfer is nothing short of amazing. The colors pop from the screen (esp. in the strip club sequence), and everything down to the wrinkles on the actor's faces are clearer than they have ever been before. Also, the gore still retains it's original effectiveness in the jump to HD.
The recent Media-Blasters/Blue Underground DVD releases of Fulci's Zombi 2, are an example of a HD mastered transfer gone wrong, the brightness in that film exposing the prosthetics in many of the splatter scenes, that is not a problem with this transfer. There are a few softer spots, especially in lighter outdoor scenes, but that probably has more to do with the actual film that BU's remaster.
The film has been presented with 2 English audio tracks. A 7.1 DTS-HD track, and the original Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track. Both are uniformly excellent with no grain or background noise to be heard on either.
The only disappointing thing about the film is the lack of any truly substantial extra features. The BD features a 10 minute interview with the actress who played a stripper in a few scenes. There is also a New York City then and now featurette, that shows New York as it was in New York Ripper, and those locations today. It really doesn't add anything to the film, and is just a minor curiosity. The disc closes out the films theatrical trailer.
I can't recommend this film to anyone, but the most hardcore of splatter film fans. Those of you who fit the bill, and haven't seen it should definitely check it out. For those of you Fulci fanatics that are already familiar with the film, it has never looked better, and is definitely worth revisiting. The blu-ray looks and sounds marvelous, and although light on the extras it is definitely a must-buy for the Fulci faithful.