Sunday, 11 November 2012

The New York Ripper

1982, Italy, Directed by Lucio Fulci
Colour, Running Time: 93 minutes
Review Source: Blu-ray, Region A, Blue Underground; Video: 2.40:1 1080p 24fps, Audio: DTS HD MA

Already steeped in streets of sleaze, New York City is hit by a plague of brutal murders by a psychopath with an apparent dislike of women. Tough but jaded, detective Williams is saddled with the case and chases up various leads to track down the increasingly sadistic killer. Following on from a string of well received fantasy horrors Fulci took on a more real world approach to the genre, effectively stepping back into the realms of the giallo (an area he'd previously experimented with a decade or so prior). The gruesomeness of the films he'd made in the few years preceding New York Ripper is present and accounted for here, although the method here reeks of nihilism and hopelessness. The semi-frequent deaths are clearly as horrific as Fulci could make them at the time, and very well executed they are in terms of editing and framing, being only occasionally let down by the budgetary limitations of the effects themselves (Lord knows how horrible this would have been with more realistic special effects). Still, these death scenes will not be appealing to most viewers. Fulci's characters are victims of the sleazy world in which they've been cultivated from birth, with sexually frustrated rich wives intermingling with moral-free Hispanic immigrants, roamers of streets lined with porn shops/shows, subway travellers almost oblivious to the graffiti-wrecked transport on which they travel, cops who sleep with prostitutes, etc. None of the characters are especially likable, and the cynical nature of the film is summed up by the final scene where a terminally ill, amputee child cries for her dead, homicidal parent. It's nice to see Fulci regular bit part victim Daniela Doria here, more attractive than ever but as always graphically put to an end in arguably the film's most shocking sequence (she was the same lass who coughed up her guts in City of the Living Dead and had a knife put through the back of her skull in House By The Cemetery). I think this one must have put her off acting altogether - it was her last role on film sadly.
I've previously watched this a few times on VHS, and a couple of times on DVD, so how does the Blue Underground Blu-ray compare? Wow! It actually looks amazing, with a bright, clear, sumptuous image throughout, without a doubt stamping on all previous releases. In fact the BD reveals just how well photographed this film is, offering further evidence in my opinion that Fulci was no trash director, even though the subject matter of this particular movie is quite deliberately trash. The increase in detail and clarity almost make this a joy to watch, as much as that may be possible in a case such as New York Ripper. Audio (English only) is served with a 7.1 lossless track alongside the original mono (the former being much quieter, something I've noticed with a lot of DTS HD MA tracks). Extras are minimal, consisting of an interview with Zora Kerova, the girl who takes part in a live sex show before being butchered very nastily by the ripper. I never actually realised before but this is the same actress who plays the unfortunate victim who gets hung up by the boobs in Cannibal Ferox, an experience she describes here as quite painful! She was also in Terror Express and the notorious former-nasty Anthropophagus. Kerova's not looking too bad for her age, speaking quite enthusiastically about the film and Fulci as a colleague. The other extra (apart from the trailer) is a short featurette demonstrating how New York has changed and been 'cleaned up' over the years, with comparison shots between the film and the same locations today. The lack of extras is not for great lamentation when one considers how incredible the film looks - no amount of extras can compensate for a bad transfer in my book. For fans of the film, they have to get this disc.

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