Lucio Fulci's disturbingly grim and unrelenting Giallo thriller is certainly one of his best works. Shameless UK R0 DVD release.
York City - a body is found rotting in bushes, while a woman is
brutally murdered aboard the Staten Island ferry. Lt. Fred
Williams suspects that there might be a link between the killings and
enlists the help of psychologist Dr. Paul Davis, but has very little to
go on, until young Fay Majors has a run-in with two
fingered Mickey Scellenda - a sexual devient from Greece, who
seems to be the obvious suspect...
Co-written by Gianfranco Clerici (House on the Edge of the Park (1980) and Cannibal Holocaust (1979)) and Fulci's regular co-conspirer Dardano Sacchetti, New York Ripper
sets itself out as an unrelentingly grim film from the very opening,
and the prospect of a happy ending seems very faint - certainly
compared to Fulci's other well known pure-horror films from the era, New York Ripper has
a very realistic edge which helps to underline this gritty feeling
(with the exception of a rather surreal dream sequence). Fortunately in
all this, the script does not lose the plot and we get a compelling Giallo
plot, with some very unexpected choices (not really twists - most of
the developments are very understated). The film is generally well
paced, despite some scenes that might seem like padding, and the climax
is very strong - with an outstanding ending that is grim beyond belief. Fulci's
direction is recognisable, if only for its often very straight-forward
look and feel - he doesn't go in for the 'flashy photography' of many
favourite Euro-cult directors. The surreal dream sequence is an
exception and a highlight, with Fulci making good use of the coloured
lights we associate more with Argento and Bava. Gore scenes are often a
major point in Fulci's films, but the bloody sequences here are much
more shocking than usual, a combination of the generally realistic tone
of the film, and much quicker cuts than we are used to with the
director - the camera does not linger on the gore scenes like in his
horror films, and this really helps to cover-up their special effects
origins (helped by the fact that the gore effects are very strong
throughout). Sex was something Fulci kept away from during many of his
horror films, but there is a lot of it here - in keeping with the
film's tone however, none of it comes close to being erotic, and it
usually borders on disturbing.
There are no particularly big names in the cast, British actor Jack Hedley (The Anniversary
(1968)) gives a strong performance as Lt. Fred Williams. The rest of
the cast are solid, Lucio Fulci gets a longer than usual cameo as the
chief of police, while Soavi regular Barbara Cupisti (The Church (1989)) gets her first film role as a secretary in a short scene.
While many films today claim to be grim and dark, New York Ripper
is one of the few to really fulfil - there is not a light hearted
moment in the entire production, and the ending ranks among the best in
genre cinema - but more importantly, the film does not eschew
storyline, and we get a more than servicable Giallo plot as well, with
plenty of armchair detective work required. Certainly not for anyone
looking for a film to 'enjoy', it comes highly recommended to Giallo
and Fulci fans, and recommended to Euro-cult fans in general who want
to see one of its more controversial productions.
Anyone famous in it?
No-one well known.
Directed by anyone interesting?
Lucio Fulci - the cult favourite horror director, responsible for such films as Zombi 2 (1979) and The Beyond (1980), but many other films as well, including one of the very best Gialli, Don't Torture a Ducking (1970)
Several very realistically gory death scenes.
Several sex and nude scenes - not erotic.
Who is it for?
Highly recommended to fans of Fulci and Giallo films.
Note: This film review is based on the fully uncut print of the film.
Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1 non-anamorphic widescreen. Colour. Picture quality is generally strong, with good colours, and despite being non-anamophic, it has good definition.
English stereo - sounds good, but with some noticable hiss throughout.
The disc includes:
Original theatrical trailer.
Trailer reel for more Shameless DVD releases.
Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
other releases of the film are available. The Anchor Bay US disc is
strong (although quite grainy), fully uncut, with the secretary scenes,
but also the annoying misplaced end scene, it is
currently OOP. The R0 Swedish AWE DVD is probably the best release
available at present, including extensive English subtitled interviews,
anamorphic print, and being the only DVD with the completely uncut and
correctly ordered print,
Compared to the ABUS print, the SSE disc has better colours, and is generally less grainy. (SSE left, ABUS right)
This print is cut and missing scenes. 34
seconds were cut by the BBFC to the 'nipple slicing scene', although
use of substitution shots means that the scene does at least make
sense. The subsequent eye-ball shot is fully uncut. The film is missing
the brief scene of Dr. Davis talking to his secretary. A brief shot of
Dr. Davis walking is also missing - in some releases of the film
(including the ABUS print), this shot appears in the film's climax,
damaging the flow of the film and completely out of place. The shot
does not appear there on this release. The print used is English
Very grim and humourless, and
boasting some good production and a solid script, this is highly
recommended to Fucli and Giallo fans.
Despite the non-anamorphic
print, this is good looking release. The presence of cuts is rather
annoying, although not that noticable, and the absence of the misplaced
scene from the ending is actually a very good thing. With the ABUS disc
OOP, this makes for a solid alternative for those who can't get the
Swedish disc - and is certainly a good way to sample the film at a good price.