NEW YORK RIPPER
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Written by Gianfranco Clerici & Lucio Fulci
Music by Francesco de Masi
Cast: Jack Hedley, Almanta Keller, Andrew Painter, Howard Ross & Alexandra Delli Colli
1982/93 Mins/Color/Dolby Digital Mono
2.35:1/English/Italy/PAL Region 0
Review of the Japan Shock DVD
Directed by gore maestro Lucio Fulci, NEW YORK RIPPER is undoubtedly his most vicious, extreme and controversial film. Condemned by many people as sadistic and misogynistic I take the opposing viewpoint. Sure the film contains graphic murder scenes where women are sliced and diced in lingering close-up, but not all horror films can be set in fantasy worlds populated by zombies. I want horror films to push the envelope, surely it is the duty of any good horror director to try and go that little bit further and NEW YORK RIPPER does the job admirably.
Two companies have released RIPPER uncut onto DVD - Anchor Bay in the US and Italian Shock in Europe, so which is the one to spend your hard-earned cash on? Well in my humble opinion the Italian Shock release wins it simply because it is a PAL print and has a sharpness which is lacking on Anchor Bay's DVD. Neither DVD has much in the way of extras - Anchor Bay has included a lurid US trailer and a Fulci biography. Italian Shock's release has more to offer with three trailers, a short picture gallery, a filmography and the option to listen to the soundtrack separately.
Anchor Bay's DVD is one of their earlier releases and it shows. Whilst it is uncut and in the correct aspect ratio it has no anamorphic enhancement for widescreen televisions and the picture is lacking compared to their more recent releases. The print is clean and free from damage, but does lack the detail noticeable on the Italian Shock DVD. MPEG artefacts are present in many scenes, most notably in the darker scenes and the infamous broken bottle scene bathed in green light in which the background is awash with artefacts. There's no distortion on the audio track.
On the other hand Italian Shock's release does contain some print damage with white lines, grain and dirt noticeable, particularly in the opening ten minutes. However the image is almost entirely free of pixellation, is rich in detail, depth and sharpness. Shadow details are excellent with good black levels and contrast. The print could have done with more time spent on restoration, but the background detail is vastly superior to Anchor Bay's release. Both have Dolby Digital Mono soundtracks with some noise on the Italian Shock release. Anchor Bay provides us with 25 chapter stops whilst Italian Shock only gives us 12.
In the film a killer preys on young women in New York leaving carved-up corpses littering the Manhattan landscape. Lieutenant Williams (Jack Hedley) investigates these shocking crimes as Fulci piles on the death scenes. One woman meets her maker on the Staten Island Ferry when an unknown assailant, who quacks insanely like a duck, proceeds to cut her up with a switchblade! God knows where Fulci got the idea for a quacking serial killer from, but it adds a very twisted vein of humour to the murder scenes. Williams enlists the help of a professor to get an outline of the killer and his/her motivation. The most perverse scene in the film has a woman murdered with a broken bottle, which is thrust into her private parts (Fulci even providing us with a brief shot from inside the bottle). The killer taunts Williams and kidnaps and kills his hooker girlfriend, proceeding to carve her up in exceptionally graphic detail slicing her breast and eyeball with a razor. There's a final twist in the finale when the killer's motivation and the incessant quacking are explained, which is so ludicrous it defies belief.
NEW YORK RIPPER is one of the sickest puppies ever committed to celluloid, a guilty pleasure that I enjoyed and I'm not afraid to admit it either! If that makes me a warped sicko then so be it! I have a gut feeling that NEW YORK RIPPER will be re-released on DVD in the US in the not too distant future, hopefully with a brand new anamorphic transfer. Until then this Italian Shock PAL release is a worthwhile investment for its superior picture quality over the Anchor Bay US DVD.
This Film Features:
Review by Brendan Maltman. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©