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 Thread Rating: 77 votes, 5.00 average.
Old 10-27-2009, 08:56 PM
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Scored: 8
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New York Ripper (Blu-ray)





Reviewer: Rhett
Review Date: October 14, 2009

Format: Blu-ray
Released by: Blue Underground
Release date: 9/29/2009
MSRP: $29.95
Region Free, HDTV
Progressive Scan
Codec: VC1, 1080p
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes
1982





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Blu-ray
Anchor Bay/Blue Underground DVD

Of all the Fulci films Iíve seen, none has rubbed me (maybe the wrong term given the subject matter) the wrong way worse than New York Ripper. Misogynistic to the core, it was a scuz shock when I first saw it back in 2001 in my first year of college. Itís been eight years now, and New York Ripper now marks Fulciís inaugural Blu-ray release courtesy of Blue Underground. As our own Jeremy boasted on the cover of the Blue Underground DVD, itís ďone of the most controversial Italian horror films ever madeĒ, so perhaps I just wasnít ready. The girlfriend and I just watched a Disney Donald Duck compilation, so Iíll at least have those quacks under control. The nip slit though, I donít knowÖ

The Story


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Anchor Bay/Blue Underground DVD

The film begins memorably with an old man (the first of many allusions to age and generations in the film) playing fetch with his dog. He throws the stick, the dog gets it. Upon the second throw, though, the dog brings back a severed hand. Yikes! Turns out it belonged to a downtown performer, who her landlord remarks as being amazingly beautiful (right after an aside about Dallas and that ďrich familyĒ, the reference to generations). This is New York circa the Maniac years, people are washing up dead all the time. No biggie. On we go to a sex show, where an interracial couple has sex on a stage for paying patrons. One of the patrons is asleep, and the other is a leggy blonde woman (Alexandra Delli Colli) in a trench coat. You see those every day at sex shows. Sheís got a tape recorder for posterity, and she fingers herself for the present. Hey, why not?


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Anchor Bay/Blue Underground DVD

Shortly after the sex act, the female performer (Zora Kerova, Cannibal Ferox) goes to her change room, shrugging it off with her colleagues. She tries to turn on the light but itís busted Ė luckily the room already has a solid green hue. First tip for Italian horror movies: If the room or building you are in is lit with some freaky primary colors, GET THE FUCK OUT! She doesnít, and is impaled several times to the vagina with a broken wine bottle. Who knew booze was bad for you? Oh, I forgot to mention a girl who got sliced and diced on a ferry after she wrote the word ďSHiTĒ on a car window. The lesson learned thus far: If youíre a sexy woman doing dirty deeds, youíre going to not only die, but be left with a body nobody will want to remember.


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Anchor Bay/Blue Underground DVD

So who is doing all this? Well, heís been calling the police office quacking like a duck (no kidding). What the hell does that have to do with anything? Did he watch those Nazi Donald Duck cartoons as a kid, too? The prime suspect is this surly gigolo (Howard Ross) who frequents the sex shows who is missing his two end fingers. He likes it rough, too, whipping and beating the prostitutes he takes home. Some blonde chick (Almanta Suska) and her husband (Andrea Occhipinti) are scared, especially since the blonde has escaped attack twice now where all the other women have failed. Female bodies are piling up by the truck load, so the cops better hurry in unmasking the killer before Jason shows up on the Lazarus.


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Anchor Bay/Blue Underground DVD

New York Ripper is one of those nasty grindhouse movies that revels in the very thing it should find repulsive. Itís very much a sequence of primal urges, from sex gratification to violent catharsis. Itís as if Fulci sought to make a film with the same qualitative significance as the sex acts depicted in the film. For pleasure, not purpose. The craftsman that he is, Fulci lenses the film with a radical and appealing visual style, with the conceit this time to follow the blade in close up as it slices across the body. We even see through the slit wounds to make this very much the first person assault Fulci always strives for with his murders . The gore is just nasty, from entrails pouring out upon each and every slit of the stomach to the wincing show stopper of a woman having her nipples sawed in half with a razor blade. Fulci makes concessions for nobody, and regardless of the tact of the subject matter, you have to admire a man of unwavering vision.


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Anchor Bay/Blue Underground DVD

Perhaps Iím becoming a desensitized, but the sleazy misogyny rampant throughout New York Ripper didnít affect me as much as it did back then. I must be slowly coming to terms with the fact that most European filmmakers of the time had similar regressive views of women, and that just came with the territory back in the seventies and eighties. That doesnít make it right, but it does make it fact. Watching it again, though, I was able to pick up on Fulciís strategy, and letís say itís not entirely disingenuous.


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Anchor Bay/Blue Underground DVD

New York Ripper has the same political agenda of other hypocritical tentpoles of the genre, like Cannibal Holocaust or Natural Born Killers. That is to say that for ninety percent of the runtime it seems to be glorifying violence, be it against animals, the government or New York prostitutes. Then thereís that ten percent at the finale where each film actually lobbies a scathing attack against the very thing it glorified. These films get their cake and eat it, too. New York Ripperís approach, though, is most subtle at all, but I was actually struck this time by just how well Fulci ends it. Without giving anything away, he essentially establishes a chain of violence, and how while the killer may have been acting for redemptive qualities, in the end the killerís actions instead have caused pain to the very people the intention was to help. Rather than wrap the film up with congratulatory police detectives, as most gialli do, this one ends with the cries of a child. Not only do we see how well intentioned motives can cause pain, but we also see how the lost women who often become prostitutes or dancers are themselves subject of abandonment.


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Anchor Bay/Blue Underground DVD


New York Ripper is a hard film to take, not just for the gore but more the sleaze and misogyny, but if you can make it through, Fulciís got a message worth viewing. Of course, Iím sure Fulci enjoyed killing all those pretty women, but if he can entertain and leave a positive message by doing so, is it all bad? While I prefer Fulciís supernatural fare because it allows him to be more surreal and outlandish with his subject matter, thereís no doubt that even in the realist mode, as he demonstrated in Donít Torture a Duckling and again here, he can still tell a gripping tale with weight enough to match the body count. Ripper cuts a new one when it comes to critiquing inner city vice.


Image Quality

Prior to this new special edition, New York Ripper had been released twice on North American DVD, and both utilizing the same master. The first was from 1999 when Anchor Bay put this sucker out. When Blue Underground became their own company, they took the title with them, and re-released last year. By that point the transfer was 9 years old, and it definitely shows. Looking like Anchor Bayís edition of Zombieł the film is terribly dark, with so much detail sacrificed to shadow. The color timing is all over the place and a few scenes donít match up quality wise with the rest. Back in 1999 it was great just to get the film widescreen (and anamorphic, no less) and uncut. Now though, this transfer doesnít even come close to cutting it, and thankfully Blue Underground has gone back to the vault to give this a fresh remaster.


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Anchor Bay/Blue Underground DVD

I have some reservations about this new transfer, but overall itís a huge step up from the DVD. Itís amazing just how much more information is there, not only the elements lost in the shadow, but also just the colors. There are scenes where what was once a black shadow suddenly becomes a lushly tinted red door. Itís something else, and makes the cinematography by Luigi Kuveiller finally compare to his other works like Deep Red and A Lizard in a Womanís Skin. Just look at the shot of Almanta Suskaís hair. I had a lot of trouble trying to sync the Blu-ray up with my DVD screenshots. They just didnít seem to match Ė she had way more hair flailing around in the Blu-ray. I took the closest comparable shot, but upon comparing them I realized they were the same. Look at all those extra strands of hair that simply do not exist in the Anchor Bay DVD. Amazing. The space has been opened up on the sides as well, allowing for even more picture in the 2.35:1 frame. Detail is leaps better than the soft DVD transfer of yore, and the color timing, although still not perfect, is definitely more realistic. No doubt about it, this peep show of a movie looks great.


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Anchor Bay/Blue Underground DVD

The problems I do have with the transfer, and they are relatively minimal considering how much of an improvement this is over previous releases, is the digital noise that is clearly visible throughout. Every scene appears to have been digitally sharpened, making edges sharper but at the same time casting a noticeable flutter of dots throughout the transfer. This had been a problem with Blue Undergroundís Blu-ray of The Stendhal Syndrome, and while itís not as bad here, itís definitely still a bother and something I hope the House of Lustig will move away from for future releases. My only other concern was in the color timing, which while better, still could use some work. Some scenes donít match, like the bicycle scene at around 6:50, where the POV shot is considerably bluer than the rest of the coverage. There are a few scenes in the police office that donít seem to match shot to shot either. Still, on the whole though, this is a massive upgrade that all Fulci fans will definitely appreciate.


Sound


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Anchor Bay/Blue Underground DVD

The visuals offered a massive leap, so imagine the change here from mono to DTS-HD 7.1 surround on this new Blu-ray. Blue Underground has consistently done some of the best surround sound remixes in the business, and this one is no exception. While most of the dialogue and effects are contained within the front center speaker, the music and ambient filler have been very aggressively matrixed throughout the remaining six speakers. There is a lot of discrete movement from the soundtrack throughout, especially noticeable during the death scenes when that high-pitched echo circles around from speaker to speaker. So often sound is faintly reproduced in the rear speakers, but the way Blue Underground has given it a presence in the front and back satellite speakers really makes the 7.1 track pop. Everything sounds remarkably clear and there is quite the depth to the mix, too. The LFE channel doesnít get as much of a work out, but itís still a presence. The film has never sounded this good before.


Supplemental Material



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The previous two North American DVDs of New York Ripper offered only the trailer and a Fulci bio. The bio is long gone, but the trailer has been preserved along with a few new extras. The first is a ten minute interview with Zora Kerova, who played the ďwine bottle to the cooterĒ victim. Titled ďIím an Actress!Ē this is fittingly her bid to prove that no matter how thankless her role, sheís still devoted herself to her craft. Itís actually an eye opening interview, since Kerova is very well spoken and makes a convincing argument for the craft of actors. Hearing how sheíd ask to see dailies not to criticize her appearance but instead to understand performance was refreshing. She also had kind things to say about Fulci, Lenzi and Mattai, so sheís good in my books! The other new piece is ďNYC Locations Then and NowĒ and itís four minutes of comparisons of shots from the film to shots from today. The today footage doesnít really match, since it is presented 1.78:1 compared to the 2.35:1 of the film, but still itís interesting to see how the skyline has changed, and how much cleaner a place 42nd street is now that the smut shows are gone. The two new featurettes were shot Iím assuming by a production house out of country, since they have terrible PAL-to-NTSC banding from the interlaced conversion. When there is movement Ė and thereís a lot of it in the city comparison, itís tough to watch. Mastering issues aside, itís nice to see some extras finally for the film, although this is definitely deserving of a documentary chronicling the controversy and catching up with the surviving cast and crew to hear their take. Maybe in another ten yearsÖ


Final Thoughts


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Anchor Bay/Blue Underground DVD

New York Ripper is not for the faint of heart, but make it through, watch it again, and you begin to see the tragedy and humanity in the sleazy story. Thereís a method to Fulciís misogynistic madness, and the finale is a particularly devastating one, and proof that Fulci can elicit emotions in spite of going for the gut. The presentation on this Blu-ray gets a massive overhaul from the long dated 1999 release, although the digital noise is becoming a troublesome trend with Blue Underground. There are some technical issues with the extras, too, but the interview is great and the comparison between old and New York adds a nice bit of context. I used to view Fulci as a lesser filmmaker and a finer craftsman of gore, but the more I watch him the deeper he becomes. With every film of his I watch I see increased humanity and a more radical vision. Now, it seems, heís the one with something to say, while Argento is courting empty spectacle. Like the New York skyline, I guess, things change the longer theyíre around. I wouldnít have said it eight years ago, but New York Ripper is recommended to the brave!

Rating

.
Movie - B-

Image Quality - B+

Sound - A-

Supplements - B-




*Because of the quality of the HD format, the clarity, resolution and color depth are inherently a major leap over DVD. Since any Blu-ray will naturally have better characteristics than DVDs, the rating is therefore only in comparison with other Blu-ray titles, rather than home video in general. So while a Blu-ray film may only get a C, it will likely be much better than a DVD with an A.

Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Running time - 1 hour and 33 minutes
  • Not Rated
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • English DTS-HD 7.1
  • English mono
  • English subtitles
  • Spanish subtitles
  • French subtitles

Supplements
  • Interview with actress Zora Kerova
  • New York comparison from 1982 to today
  • Trailer


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Old 10-27-2009, 10:41 PM
They stay the same age...
I saw New York Ripper for the first time in about '99 when I was in grade 9 and I was too wrapped up in the killer's voice to try to put anything together in the film. The passage of time has been kinder - and I especially love the grindhouse aura of the movie and the comments on the viewers. It's sort of interesting how Fulci treats his audience in this one. The people viewing the full NY schlock experience at the sex shows in the movie and us viewers are one in the same. It's pretty interactive when you look at it in that sense. Calling Delli Colli's character dirty would be like the pot calling the kettle black.

I really want to see this, all I have (still!) is the AB widescreen VHS. I'd love to see Morales' silver toes in HD.
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Old 10-27-2009, 11:54 PM
HackMaster
Wonderfully clear! Though, I don't know if I like the blacks being brightened to that extent. Kind of takes the grittiness away from it all, hmm?
 
 
Old 10-28-2009, 06:19 AM
Horny Spirit
Great review. I still have yet to order this. It will be in the collection eventually.
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Old 10-28-2009, 07:42 AM
Closet SCREAM fan
Damn it all, I want my quote back!

If anyone who owns the European releases wants to compare them to this new Blu-Ray, here they are:


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Anchor Bay/BU



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Another World
Italian Shock

 
 
Old 11-10-2009, 03:40 PM
Screamy Bopper
Man it's like night and day (quite literally)!!!
Im buying this soon as I can.
Loved the film when I first saw it on cable and never looked back!
An A- movie for me!
 
 
Old 01-11-2010, 06:26 AM
Screamy Bopper
I give the video an A. Honestly off all the 70s and 80s BD I have this is by far my favorite transfer. I never realized how much was lost on the DVD. When the girl gets stabbed with the broken glass you never see the blood drip on her, but with the BD you do. The grain from the DVD is pretty much gone and all flaws for that matter. And best off all they corrected the ending from prior releases, which was a mistake in editing
 
 
Old 05-29-2010, 10:32 PM
Victim
Watched this last week and was blown away. Totally different animal with the improved HD transfer.
 
 

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