Written by: Nick Frame on July 15th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1982
Director: Lucio Fulci
Cast: Jack Hedley, Almanta Suska, Howard Ross, Andrea Occhipinti, Alexandra Delli Colli
DVD released: October 1st, 2007
Approximate running time: 87 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Letterboxed Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Shameless Films
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £12.99
Ah Lucio Fulci! The director who’s seminal “The Beyond” got me into the whole Italian horror revolution on DVD back in 2000 when it was released in a Tin box set by Anchor Bay. As a result I tracked down more of his movies and I discovered the “The New York Ripper” (aka Lo Squartatore di New York), not because it was a quality film, although it does have its merits but because of its notoriety. In 1980’s Britain, the “Video Nasties” debate was in full swing with politicians getting their knickers in a twist about “sick” horror movies being released on VHS and if kids were getting their hands on them! With James Ferman, the head censor at the time, already fed up with Fulci’s other films, decided to take a more heavy handed approach! He ordered that the print of the film be taken out of the country and no one was to see such depravity. As a result the NYR was placed alongside “Cannibal Holocaust” and “I Spit on Your Grave” on the Department of Public Prosecutions List and banned! Fortunately times have changed with the NYR now available in all good DVD stockists in the UK thanks to Shameless Films, but still in 2008, the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) have still deemed it necessary to trim 34 seconds from the UK release!
On with the plot and the women of New York are being terrorized by a frenzied serial killer with NYPD Lt. Fred Williams (Jack Hedley) on the case. He has only one clue, the killer uses the voice of a duck! Not exactly scary but a big knife is a big knife regardless of the voice! Always one step behind but with the help of psychiatrist Dr. Paul Davis (Paulo Malco), Williams encounters one brutal slaying after another until one murder gets too close to home for his liking. It’s also nice to do some Euro Cult actor spotting with Alessandra Delli Colli (Zombie Holocaust) and Zora Kerova popping up in interesting situations!
Fulci films can be let down by their scripts or questionable acting, therefore thank goodness there are lashings of violence, sleaziness and nudity to keep us occupied! We are in real misogynistic territory here and Fulci was criticized for his nihilistic approach with the NYR, and this is never more so highlighted than with the slow gruesome murder of the prostitute Kitty (Daniela Dora) and unfortunately for UK Fulci fans this is where the BBFC have stepped in, depriving us with 34 seconds of cuts in every sense of the word! I must add that while the Hostel and the Saw film series have worse bouts of violence, it’s sexualized violence against women that always seems to warrant censoring in the UK! What Fulci does do well in my opinion is capture the gritty and downbeat side of New York that simply does not exist anymore, while the score from the great Francesco De Masi is fantastic and incorporates both 70’s and 80’s influences.
While I must commend Shameless for getting this type of genre released in the UK, the cuts will ultimately hurt this release as clued up horror fans (myself included) will already have an uncut copy of this via the Dutch Italian Shock release of 2001 or perhaps the more recent French release from Neo Publishing. However Shameless have sourced uncut prints for their future releases and as a result will definitely find more success and praise!
While never managing to be either a giallo or an outright “slasher” movie it is in my opinion one of Fulci’s best features. It was a movie that showed that Fulci’s classy 1970’s period (“Don’t Torture a Duckling” and “Lizard in a Women’s Skin”) was over and that the gritty more downbeat 1980’s had arrived and that he felt that the world had begun to change.
Ultimately one of Fulci’s more notorious movies and a definite one to watch for newcomers to the genre, just remember that the UK censors got there first!
There is only a letter-boxed 2:35:1 non-anamorphic print on show here and it’s not too great to be honest, it looks compressed with aliasing and a particularly blocky picture at times. When I compared it to my Italian Shock disc the difference was striking, with a much cleaner sharper picture on display.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono is fine without being great and gets better as the film progresses, the English dub as you might expect is shaky but ok. There are no English subs included. It would be interesting to hear the Italian dub as I always think they play better as more often than not Italy was one of the main intended markets for many films of this genre.
Extras include only the original theatrical trailer plus another 6 trailers for Shameless’s upcoming releases.
This is Shameless’s first foray into Italian genre cinema and there is more to come, plus the striking yellow cases (yellow=giallo in Italian, see what they did there!) and cool tag lines make this a label to look out for!