The Killer That Stalked New York Blu-ray Review


A Different Kind of Killer

The Killer That Stalked New York came out in 1950. Funny how things come back in vogue. Initially, this Colombia noir’s story came from a real world outbreak of smallpox. That happened in 1947. Here it is in 2019, and while not smallpox, it’s measles breaking free, and also in New York.

The fears haven’t changed. The Killer That Stalked New York features a montage of newspaper headlines urging vaccination. Still others hold signs, refusing treatment. One man bursts out of his apartment shouting, “You’re not putting those germs in me!” And to think this happened without YouTube.

So much of the dialog here is overly flagrant. Not against, but for vaccination. It’s ludicrous even, laced with fear-mongering like a PSA as officials tout the sheer danger. It’s not wrong, of course, but no one talks like this. The Killer That Stalked New York wants assurance viewers understand the risk of not getting vaccinated. The lack of subtly doesn’t play naturally and is too often forceful propaganda. Entertainment like this doesn’t help, and a scene in which the kindly drug manufacturers agree to donate their wares to the city looks especially baffling.

… it’s difficult to care about a $40,000 diamond heist when people in New York fall to disease at a growing scale

Again, The Killer That Stalked New York is right, just in a mangled way. Scenes take place in a doctor’s office with posters championing vaccines, as if the dialog wasn’t enough. Scenes of people lining up for shots, the joy on the faces of children receiving them, and the Hollywood ending sunset as a narrator boastfully speaks about the success is all too much.

Note this isn’t just a pro-vaccine experiment either. There’s a diamond heist afoot, along with a love triangle. Neither of those make for compelling narrative either. Evelyn Keyes stars as a woman scorned and also patient zero. She’s fine, fumbling around the city, in and out of feverish delirium while chasing down the crooked husband who robbed her. Tension never rises above mild though – it’s difficult to care about a $40,000 diamond heist when people in New York fall to disease at a growing scale. That goes even less so for the minor romance, Keyes’ on-screen sister a romantic double crosser that feels barely relevant to the story.

Keyes isn’t playing a hero; she’s in on the diamond scheme. If there’s a moral, it’s a simple one: crime spreads. In this case, it spreads smallpox, which like the rest of this movie, is all too literal.

Video

The Killer That Stalked New York features a softened transfer. But, that’s a natural softness, free of tinkering. Grain looks like grain primarily, and what detail is evident looks wholly organic. That said, this is crammed on a disc with two other films, and the bitrate leads to visible compression, even some banding.

While this is unlikely sourced from a modern master (and some vertical rolling looks entirely analog), it’s clean. Free of scratches for most of the runtime, damage never rises above minimal. For the age, that’s superlative.

Gray scale is adequate and serviceable. A few scenes feature extensive black levels, and others allow deep gray, the latter not enough to squash noise. Dimension works though, building a stable, solid, dense image that’s attractive in its vintage veneer.

Audio

Other than being mixed low, there’s limited material sonically on this disc. The DTS-HD mix does what it needs to, preserving sharp dialog and the minor score without distortion. Highs stand out clearly.

All instances of static or popping were cleared up whenever The Killer That Stalked New York found its way out of the Colombia vault.

Extras

Nothing here as with the rest of the Noir Archive, although do note the disc is labeled incorrectly. This is on disc 2, not disc 3.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Killer That Stalked New York
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras

Movie

The Killer That Stalked New York is not a noir murder mystery, but an overwrought, heavy-handed vaccination story.

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