The New York Ripper (Blue Underground) Blu-ray Review


Good Efficient Butchery

Paul Davis (Paolo Malco) buys a gay porn magazine at a New York newsstand. The operator collects the cash, covers the mag with a newspaper, and Davis walks off. To the extent of the city’s decay, it’s comical – people were concerned with judging someone like Davis as opposed to fixing the cruelty around them.

Grasping New York Ripper’s fatalistic, cynical, hardened world view requires understanding Italian filmmaker Lucio Fulci. Enough is written on the man to fill a number of books, but know he comes from a place of trauma (his wife committed suicide), and after a Catholic upbringing, made waves with a scintillating teardown of the church’s basic institutions, Conspiracy of Torture.

Fulci wasn’t subtle, a noted Marxist whose choice of New York suited both the social breakdowns evident in a capitalist country and the brutality inevitable from inequality. New York Ripper captures a seedy city, despicable and dirty, raw and uncaring. One shot sees a handheld camera wandering through a red light district, capturing the smut, the lights, and the exploitation. Inside, live sex acts draw a small audience. Then, murder.

New York Ripper’s gruesome, uncaring snapshot hardly has equal

New York Ripper’s history concerns numerous instances of censorship and derision. Debate if New York Ripper is misogynist in itself; undeniable is that the violence is attractive to misogynists. The killer often aims for women’s genitals. He splits a nipple with a razor blade in one graphic close-up. One woman is depicted as enjoying molestation in a grimy bar. It’s clear the want is for an audience to feel and see discomfort to extremes, adapting the giallo format to exploit an era of serial killers – Ted Bundy still drew headlines in 1982. New York Ripper’s sociopathic, woman-targeting killer doesn’t stray far from Bundy.

Each murder is filled with contempt and hate. That goes for both the mystery man holding the knife and Fulci’s own perspective. Both hate New York’s hypocrisy and society’s fall, solely indicated by their work. That’s why New York Ripper endears in film circles. Few willingly attack society with such ferocity. The rest of New York Ripper isn’t engaging. A tough cop routine by Jack Hedley is here to lead audiences through, in a hunt for credibility. It doesn’t matter, necessarily, who the killer is so much as what they do. Hedley and Malco build a profile of the killer, not that it means anything outside of his use of a bizarre duck voice

The why of that voice is revealed in the final frames, leaving the film on an image of a sick, abandoned, crying child. Another kid left behind by moral decay, in a city that, at the time, was seemingly prepared to give up. New York Ripper’s gruesome, uncaring snapshot hardly has equal. Honestly, there’s no need for another.

Video

Blue Underground’s 4K treatment of New York Ripper is quite astonishing. No matter how many Blu-rays come around, there’s an occasional transfer that asks, “how is this possible?” Consider the low budget and rogue shooting style of New York Ripper; delivering the material with this much resolution and texture seems unfathomable. Yet, here’s an exquisite presentation, utterly clear with maximum precision.

Saturation leaps forward, maybe to an excessive degree, but no less attractive. New York Ripper glows at times, with brilliant primaries that suggest deep color without actually using it. Organic flesh tones balance out with the bluest of blue skies. A slight digital grading aesthetic does show at times. Contrast keeps a marvelous high-grade consistency, maintaining depth in either light or dark scenes. Black levels keep to the tonality of this film.

Preserved is the grain structure. The transparent encoding hardly struggles to keep filmic form. Scenes draped in total red or green push limits, but lose nothing to compression. The camera negative displays no issues to speak of. That allows buckets of fidelity to stream onto the screen, with facial detail at a ludicrous peak for something of this ilk.

Audio

The DTS-HD 7.1 mix is a little much, but that’s Blue Underground tradition (and they do include the English and Italian mono tracks too, also uncompressed). Mostly, the upmix is used to spread around the score, filling the soundstage with rich highs. There’s no obvious cause for concern with distortion. A rare moment of separation – say, the subway train passing or general outdoor ambiance – become exceptions to the center-focused norm.

Dialog is all dubbed. It’s prominent in the mix. That’s normal in a case like this, and clarity carries over here as well. Nothing here draws ire.

Extras

Troy Haworth knows his Fulci. He should as an author of a book on Fulci’s films, and dives into New York Ripper on a fine commentary. Seven interviews follow, running 106-minutes total (two of them feature co-star Zora Kerova), varying between the cast, writer, and even the poster artist. A short montage comparing New York Ripper’s city perspective to the modern New York (in 2009) carefully matches a number of shots. Stills and trailers sit at the bonus menu’s bottom.

Inside the thick case and lenticular slipcover, Blue Underground also includes the soundtrack CD along with a DVD.

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 New York Ripper
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras

Movie

Infamous, cruel, and daring, New York Ripper is a film from the eyes of an absolute fatalist disgusted with social decay.

Overall
3
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User Review
3.5 (2 votes)

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