• New York Ripper (Blue Underground) 4k UHD Review

    Released by: Blue Underground
    Released on: June 25th, 2019.
    Director: Lucio Fulci
    Cast: Jack Hedley, Andrew Painter, Andrea Occhipinti, Alexandra Delli Colli
    Year: 1982
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    New York Ripper – Movie Review:

    Next to Zombie and The Beyond, Lucio Fulci’s New York Ripper is, if not one of his better-known pictures in mainstream circles, at least his most notorious. It’s been labeled as near pornographic, misogynist, sexist trash and it’s hard to argue with a few of those more colorful adjectives. That said, Fulci’s film definitely succeeds in creating an unsettling mood and a sleazy atmosphere – and it’s more fun to think he planned it that way rather than to assume it happened by accident.

    The movie takes place in, you guessed it, the New York City of the early eighties where some of the local ladies are being stalked and slashed by an unknown assailant with a penchant for making quacking noises while he does his dirty deeds. The cops, led by a detective named Frank Williams (Jack Hedley), are on the case however and they figure that the quacking has got to be some sort of clue worth following up on so that’s just what they do. Their investigation doesn’t move quite as quickly as they’d hoped, however, so Williams winds up working with a psychiatrist named Dr. Paul Davis (Paulo Malco) to catch the killer before he can strike again. Sadly, their efforts aren’t so spectacular and the maniac keeps ripping whores. As the killer seemingly zeroes in on Williams’ personal life, the bodies start pilling up leaving one frantic detective desperately trying to bring a knife wielding asshole to justice just as quickly as he can before it’s too late!

    It’s interesting to look at Fulci’s later films as his own sort of middle finger up to the world that was starting to fall apart around him. After making some considerably more artistic films in the seventies, the eighties gave way to the gore period for which he’s become better known, ironically enough. The unrestrained nastiness of some of the films he churned out during this period really did push the envelope in terms of on-screen violence and New York Ripper definitely falls into that trapping.

    Fulci definitely pours on the atmosphere with this film. The period inner city NYC setting is the perfect place to tell his tale and the copious amounts of sex and violence that the film spoon feeds its audience feel right at home amongst the peeling paint, gaudy signs and myriad of strange background characters that pepper the film. The location shooting gives the film a remarkably squalid feel that goes a long way towards making its trashy plot work, and it’s a good thing too, as the performances, as enjoyable as they are, really don’t stand out. They’re serviceable enough, but they’re far from remarkable.

    What does stand out in regards to the film, aside from the nasty murder set pieces and the seedy atmosphere, is the score and the camerawork. The film has a very voyeuristic feel to it aided in no small part by the instrumental score courtesy of Francesco De Masi. In the end, New York Ripper might not be a deep film, but it’s an entertaining enough slasher film that entertains in its own depraved way. Not Fulci’s best picture by any stretch but a remarkable one in its own right and one well worth seeking out.

    New York Ripper – 4k UHD Review:

    The New York Ripper arrives on UHD from Blue Underground on a 66GB disc in a 4k transfer framed at 2.39.1 widescreen in an HEVC / H.265 encoded 2160p with HDR and Dolby Vision enhancement and it looks excellent –flawless, even. We get quite a nice uptick in detail over the last remastered Blu-ray edition, strong depth and texture is noticeable throughout as well. Colors look nicer, they’re certainly better defined here than past editions, particularly in the darker scenes where the HDR gives the image quote a boost. At the same time, the whole thing retains a really strong filmic quality throughout, preserving the natural film grain you want and everything that comes with it, while still looking crystal clear and plenty clean. Highlights are handled better here, the Blu-ray release occasionally looking a bit blown out now by comparison. You’ll be hard pressed to find any print damage here at all, while skin tones look perfectly natural throughout. There are no issues with any noise reduction, edge enhancement or visible compression artifacts. This is pretty much a reference quality picture - save for a small but noteworthy quirk. There's a quick segment near the eighty-four-minute mark, with the two men walking down the street in the early morning, where the teal push looks unusually strong. This is a minor complaint, but worth pointing out for the sake of writing an anal retentive review, and the rest of the movie looks great.

    New to this UHD release is a Dolby Atmos track in English that stays pretty true to the movie’s mono roots while still managing to spread the score and occasional effects into the surround channels to nice effect. There’s excellent depth here, great range as well, and the track is free of any audible hiss or distortion. It’s perfectly balanced and it sounds great.

    Carried over from the Blu-ray release are English language options provided in 24-bit 5.1 DTS-HD and 16-bit 1.0 DTS-HD and a 24-bit 1.0 DTS-HD Italian language track. As noted before, Bob’s dubbing on the English track is atrocious but that issue aside, the 5.1 mix spreads the score and effects around quite nicely. The two mono tracks also both sound nice and clean, with properly balanced levels and good range throughout. As far as subtitles go, we get English SDH, French and Spanish options as well as a separate English subtitles option for the Italian track.

    Extras are spread across the two discs in this set as follow:

    Disc One (UHD):

    The first disc starts off with an audio commentary track courtesy of Troy Howarth (who penned Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci And His Films). Like most of Howarth’s commentary tracks, this one is a mix of facts and trivia and his opinions on the quality of the film. He provides plenty of insight into the making of the picture, offers up lots of background information not just on the cast and crew members but some of the locations as well. He also has plenty to say about the seedier side of the film and some of its more controversial aspects, how the picture compares to the other giallo pictures that Fulci made and lots more. It’s a good track, no dead air here.

    A trailer for the feature is also found on the first disc.

    Disc Two (Blu-ray):

    Moving on to the second disc (which replicates disc one of the last Blu-ray release, so it contains the feature as well as Howarth’s commentary), we dive into a host of featurettes that Blue Underground has put together for this release, starting with The Art Of Killing which is a half-hour interview with co-writer Dardano Sacchetti. In this piece, he speaks about getting to know Fulci and how they came to work together on this script, his involvement in the production process of the picture, his thoughts on the film and more. In Three Fingers Of Violence actor Howard Ross gets in front of the camera for sixteen-minutes to share memories regarding how he got the part in the film, his thoughts on Fulci as a director and as a person and how he prepared to participate in some of the racier scenes featured in the picture. The Second Victim spends thirteen-minute with actress Cinzia de Ponti wherein she talks about how winning a beauty contest led to her getting into the acting business which in turn landed her the part in this picture. She shares some memories from the shoot and some opinions on the film as well. In The Broken Bottle Murder actress Zora Kerova speaks for ten-minutes about the role she was originally asked to play, shooting her now infamous scene in the porno movie theater, working with Fulci on the picture and more. The Beauty Killer sees Beyond Terror: The Films Of Lucio Fulci author Stephen Thrower spend twenty-three-minutes delivering another one of his typically excellent breakdowns. He speaks to the quality of the film, what sets it apart, the accusations of misogyny typically thrown at the picture and how he feels about that, genre conventions and what this picture does with them, the importance of the visuals in the film, where the picture stands alongside other Fulci endeavors and quite a bit more. Lastly, Paint Me Blood Red interviews with poster artist Enzo Sciotti for eighteen-minutes about his background, his entry into the film poster world, posters he has been responsible for creating over the years and his work on the iconic New York Ripper poster.

    Carried over from their past release is a ten-minute interview with Zora Kerova entitled I’m An Actress. In Italian with English subtitles, Kerova talks about how she came on board this project and what it was like working with Fulci who hired her without an audition. She claims to have known nothing about the role before shooting started, and then goes on to talk about how she only worked for three days on the film. She tells some interesting stories about her work and about Fulci himself who she describes as ‘very nice.’

    Also carried over from the older disc is the four-minute NYC Locations Then And Now featurette that gives us a quick but welcome comparison and shows us just how much the city has changed in the decades since Fulci lensed the film there in 1981. Shots of lower Manhattan are now missing the World Trade Center, Times Square is now squeaky clean, and the subways don’t have nearly as much graffiti in them. It’s simultaneously fascinating and depressing.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is the film’s original theatrical trailer, a fairly massive poster and still gallery, menus and chapter selection. The DVD version of the movie included with the last Blu-ray release has not been included here, which is no big deal, but it is worth pointing out that the soundtrack CD has also been omitted, as has the booklet of liner notes.

    As far as the packaging goes, Blue Underground offers a nice slipcover with the movie’s title embossed on all four sides.

    New York Ripper – The Final Word:

    With their re-release of New York Ripper Blue Underground gives one of Lucio Fulci’s most notorious films, a few quirks notwithstanding, an impressive UHD release with generally excellent video and very strong audio as well, not to mention almost all of the extras from the 3-disc release that came out a few years ago. The movie itself holds up well, it’s a shocking and sleazy giallo featuring some killer location work, a strong cast and some unforgettable set pieces. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized New York Ripper Blu-ray screen caps!