The New York Ripper (1982)
By: Devon B. on December 8, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Stomp Visual (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 2.30:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 87 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Lucio Fulci
Starring: Jack Hedley, Almanta Suska, Howard Ross, Andrea Occhipinti, Alexandra Delli Colli, Paolo Malco
Screenplay: Gianfranco Clerici, Lucio Fulci, Vincenzo Dannino, Dardano Sacchetti
Music: Francesco De Masi
Country: Italy
AKA: Lo Squartatore di New York
There are a few movies that only work in their original widescreen aspect ratio. I'd seen Halloween full frame probably seven times, each time watching trying to figure out what all the fuss was about. It wasn't until finally seeing it widescreen, so Michael Myers is actually THERE in a few key sequences, that it clicked. Another movie that I kinda liked but thought was overrated was Zombi 2. Sure, the shark scene is one of the best things in the history of cinema, but overall I wasn't that into the movie…again, till I saw it widescreen. It was this revelation that made me willing to reassess some of the other Lucio Fulci "classics" in the widescreen format. While the widescreen format didn't elevate The New York Ripper to a new favourite of mine, I have to admit I really like this film.

There's not a lot of story here. A madman has begun slicing up young women in New York City with a variety of pointy things. The police begin tracking the serial killer, but are having no luck. To make matters worse for the head detective, the killer has begun ringing him to taunt him in between his vicious murders.

New York Ripper is a highly misogynistic film, and not just in the Ripper's attacks on nubile young women. Some of the assaults don't make a lot of sense, but they are often brutal. The film is also sleazy as all fuck with sex shows, masturbation, and toe jobs all getting a look in. But despite the anti-women feel, the scuzzy sex, and the sadistic gore, I think The New York Ripper is a comedy. You see, someone got the idea that would make the killer really scary was if he made Donald Duck noises. Yes, Donald Duck noises. To further emphasise the Disney nature of our slasher, he speaks like a slightly lower pitched version of Mickey Mouse. I'm not sure how the deaths of the women would play with a different soundtrack, but when the killer starts quacking, all I can do is laugh. His taunting phone calls to the police are also a riot, and ultimately I have a hard time taking even the nasty razor blade scene of this film seriously.

There is some other unintentional comedy, mostly courtesy of bad dubbing, like the man who's so excited his dog's fetched a stick in the opening. The film plays like a bad giallo, with equally bad red herrings. The movie is a bit slow, but the hilarious payoff is always worth it when our killer turns up.

The DVD sleeve says this film was Fulci tribute to Alfred Hitchcock. I'm not sure where the tribute is, but The New York Ripper is made with very little style. By the time it was lensed, Fulci had given up on making art, and by his own admission was making garbage. According to his final interview, he'd made some films he thought were very good, like the riveting Don't Torture A Duckling (there's a duck connection again!) and the trippy Lizard In A Woman's Skin (one to avoid while drugged, let me tell you). Critics didn't care for these movies, and Fulci went on to make the gory films he's best remembered for. Over the years, these splatter films actually started to get some acclaim, and Fulci was well aware of the irony that his earlier, genuine efforts were largely ignored, and his exploitation films were revered. Or, as Fulci put it, his shit was called art, and his art was called shit.

The New York Ripper may not be the best film Fulci ever made, but it's certainly the funniest.
Video
The film is presented in a 16x9-enhanced print. The print has quite a few specks, some dirt, and some grain, but the overall image is pretty sharp, especially considering the film's age and origins.
Audio
Audio is a two-channel English mix. The dialogue is always decipherable, and the levels are all fine. There're a few pops, and "s" hisses. The dubbing can be pretty bad, but that just enhances the comedic elements for me.
Extra Features
The disc comes with the trailer and a slideshow with a few pics. That may not be a lot, but I'd guess finally being able to own an uncut copy of a movie that was banned in Australia for over 20 years is something of a bonus in itself.
The Verdict
If you're looking for a serious slasher, I can't really recommend The New York Ripper, because I can't imagine anyone able to keep a straight face while watching. But if it doesn't sound like an exercise in hilarity for you, the film would only be of value if you're a "must see everything" gorehound.
Movie Score
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