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THE NEW YORK RIPPER 4K Review – Sharper Than a Knife in the Throat

Starring Jack Hedley, Paolo Malco, Almanta Suska, Alexandra Delli Colli

Directed by Lucio Fulci

Distributed by Blue Underground

New York Ripper will be released on 4K Ultra HD on August 25 1024x1330 - THE NEW YORK RIPPER 4K Review - Sharper Than a Knife in the Throat

Blue Underground has been re-releasing many of their titles that previously (and recently) received the lavish three-disc special edition treatment on Blu-ray onto actual 4K Ultra HD discs, and while fans may decry double-dipping the fact that some of Fulci’s most infamous films are hitting 4K when esteemed companies like The Criterion Collection still haven’t hopped on the bandwagon should be reason enough for those same fans to support these releases. My thoughts on the film haven’t changed since last year, so here again is that review in full, but if you’re only here for the a/v info skip ahead for the good stuff…

Few directors in the horror genre are as intrinsically intertwined with splatter as Lucio Fulci, the Italian “Godfather of Gore”. Any viewer should know most of his films are gonna be a rough ride, and usually they are right from the get-go. But, oof, The New York Ripper (1982) is a toughie. Did Fulci have a hard-on for sadistically brutalizing women? Because this is unquestionably the most misogynistic slasher I have seen. Women are often victims and, ironically enough, the Final Girl in a majority of slasher pictures; however, they also are able to channel some level of power and fight back against who-or-whatever is killing their co-stars. In The New York Ripper every single woman is a weak creature just waiting to be raped or killed, usually both. Fulci isn’t a fan of expediency, either, as each victim is slowly and torturously mutilated. These women aren’t just here to be used and tossed aside; they must be made to suffer, too, it seems. This might not be such an issue if the film itself wasn’t typical but aside from the eponymous killer talking like a duck this is a routine slasher messily working out some serious issues.

After an old man’s dog finds the decomposing hand of a woman during a walk along the river in New York City, weary Lt. Fred Williams (Jack Hedley) is assigned to the case. His initial probe into the victim’s life reveals one interesting tidbit: a neighbor, who occasionally listened in on the victim’s phone calls because of a crossed wire, heard the woman speaking with someone who sounded like a duck. Later, another woman is killed on the Staten Island Ferry and the coroner, recognizing a pattern among recently murdered women, concludes there must be a serial killer on the loose. When Williams alerts the press to these findings he receives a call from a stranger… who sounds a lot like a duck. As is often the case cops are always one step behind the killer, who continues to butcher women at an alarming rate.

New York City was a hard place in the ‘70s & ‘80s and Fulci’s vision of the city is a concentrated version of every sliver of scum and degenerative establishment rolled into one. In every darkened corner of the city lurks some new form of scoundrel, just waiting for his moment to pounce upon the weak and unsuspecting. There is one particularly vomitous scene wherein a woman, who plays the part of a” hotwife” (look it up, kids) for her kinky husband, visits a bar and is immediately beset upon by two rough Latin dudes. One of them slips his hideous foot out from a loafer and proceeds to masturbate the woman with his hairy toes, as the lady is torn between feeling turned-on and terrified – and it goes on for longer than it should. In fact, most of the hardcore horror scenes overstay their welcome and, even worse than being offensive or revolting, the violence begins to feel tedious because of its ubiquity.

On the plus side of things, viewers can expect to hear another indelible Italian score, this one coming from Francesco De Masi. This was, to my knowledge, the only score De Masi conducted for Fulci, and it was one of the last in his long career. De Masi was best known for his western and sword-and-sandal film scores, of which he composed dozens and dozens. The main theme here is jazzy and funky; it would have worked just as well for a police thriller or sex comedy. One thing I love about Italian film scores is that many times it feels as though the composers are writing for themselves more so than for the film, composing the kind of music they want to hear regardless of how well it gels with the picture.

Despite some clear issues I have with the story and its portrayal of certain characters, this is still patently Fulci in every sense. I love it when Italian directors would shoot in New York City because there are many cliché shots on display to set the location and I never tire of seeing that skyline – especially when the Twin Towers are still standing. Hedley is a fine actor and his character of Lt. Williams has a solid turn from burned-out cop to leading the charge. He also helps to end the film with one helluva shot. This might be Fulci’s sleaziest adventure yet but it is still a Fulci film and there is a style and cadence to his pictures that elevate them above generic tripe, even if only slightly.

A razor-sharp 2.40:1 2160p image manages to trump the previous Blu-ray release, which derived its picture from this 4K master, and the results offer up minor-but-important upgrades throughout. Colors have slightly more pop. Detail in both the foreground and background is more apparent than ever. This 4K image isn’t a radically different viewing experience from the 4K-sourced Blu-ray, and honestly if you’re a casual videophile the advancements in quality may appear minimal at best, but for those who salivate over improved color reproduction (the disc includes Dolby Vision and HDR10) and increased resolution this is certainly a sight to behold.

Audio options carry over from the last release with one pleasant exception: an English Dolby Atmos track has been included on this release. I have made my thoughts about Italian audio tracks well known in just about every applicable review so I’ll just say Blue Underground has done a thoughtful job of expanding the limited scope of the original audio to make use of the soundfield available in Atmos. This is far from demo-worthy but as with the video quality the audio enhances what it can to the maximum degree.

Once again, as with the recent re-release of The House by the Cemetery this edition drops the soundtrack CD included with the three-disc limited edition and that’s a total shame.

Special Features:

DISC ONE – 4K BLU-RAY:

  • 4K 16-BIT RESTORATION OF THE FILM FROM THE ORIGINAL 35MM CAMERA NEGATIVE
  • Audio Commentary with Troy Howarth, Author of Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films
  • Theatrical Trailer

DISC TWO – BLU-RAY:

  • Feature film
  • Audio Commentary with Troy Howarth, Author of Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films
  • The Art Of Killing – Interview with Co-Writer Dardano Sacchetti
  • Three Fingers Of Violence – Interview with Star Howard Ross
  • The Second Victim – Interview with Co-Star Cinzia de Ponti
  • The Broken Bottle Murder – Interview with Co-Star Zora Kerova
  • “I’m an Actress!” – 2009 Interview with Co-Star Zora Kerova
  • The Beauty Killer – Interview with Stephen Thrower, Author of Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci
  • Paint Me Blood Red – Interview with Poster Artist Enzo Sciotti
  • NYC Locations Then and Now
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Poster & Still Gallery

ADDITIONAL SPECS AND CONTENT

  • Audio: English (Dolby Atmos, 5.1 DTS-HD, 1.0 DTS-HD); Italian (1.0 DTS-HD); French (Dolby Digital 1.0); Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Français, Español, English for Italian Audio
  • Limited Edition Slipcover on First Pressing Only!
  • REGION-FREE
  • The New York Ripper
  • Special Features
3.5

Summary

4K is a niche market for home video collectors and there is a high bar for those fans to pony up more money to re-buy their favorite films. This release is stunning in every sense and if it wasn’t for dropping the soundtrack CD I would suggest these releases are as definitive as we will ever get. As it stands this is a gorgeous release and worthy of being owned by any 4K Fulci fans.

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Written by Anthony Arrigo

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