4K Ultra HD Review: The New York Ripper (1982) and The House by the Cemetery (1981)

August 22, 2020

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Those fine fiends over at Blue Underground are set to release their next wave of 4K Ultra goodness with two of Italy’s legendary fright flicks The New York Ripper (1982) and House by the Cemetery (1981)!

Let’s let ‘er rip with the Ripper first!

A dog discovers a severed hand in ol’ Manhattan town, and because this isn’t a Hanna-Barbera cartoon doesn’t immediately take on solving the murder mystery.

Nope, that task falls on the world weary, prostitute fuckin’ shoulders of Lt. Fred Williams (Jack Hedley) who joins forces with psychoanalyst Dr. Paul Davis (Paolo Malco) to try and solve the case…and their asses better make like Sherlock Holmes toot-fucking-sweet ‘cuz the body count is getting rather high, as our duck-quacking psychopath carves up the ladies of The Big Apple like a Thanksgiving turkey!

Holy hell is this one full-on sleazy, gory masterpiece boils n’ ghouls! Under he steady hand of maestro of mayhem, the legendary Lucio Fulci (who naturally makes a cameo in the film as well as the Chief of Police), The New York Ripper is a tale filled to the beastly brim with live sex shows, gallons of vivid crimson blood, even more naked flesh, brutal violence, toe-banging…and plenty more bang for your hard-earned dough! It’s also bleak, cruel, and filled with red-herrings and twist after twist as our heroes try desperately to identify the killer.

Adding to aesthetics is the grimy nightmare that was early 1980’s New York City…the place was a graffiti covered, dilapidated hellscape, and the fact that ol’ Lucio filmed there for a lengthier time than usual (Did he actually have permits this time? I’d say “no”…or even “fuck no”, but maybe the special features will shed more light on that) really enhances the film’s vibe exponentially!

Speaking of which; this Blu-ray release from Blue Underground has it’s fair share of them! Beyond the fact that the film boasts a gorgeous 4K Ultra presentation, we also get an  audio commentary courtesy of author and Fulci expert Troy Howarth. This is a lively and info-packed listen, and really enhances the viewing experience, as well as the film’s trailer.

On a separate disc we get interviews with Co-Writer Dardano Sacchetti, Actors Howard Ross (who has absolutely no problem describing how horny he was while working on the picture), Cinzia de Ponti, Zora Kerova (we actually get two conversations with her as an archival interview from 2009 is included as well), Author and Fulci expert Stephen Thrower, and Poster Artist Enzo Sciotti.

Bringing up the rear we have a tour of the film’s locations as they appear today (or more precisely in 2009 when this segment was produced), the film’s theatrical trailer, and a poster and still gallery.

The absolute epitome of a grindhouse film through and through, The New York Ripper is a symphony of sleaze that marries sex and violence in ways you never thought possible, and deserves a place in the collection of every exploitation fanatic!

 

 

 

Now let’s dig it like a grave with The House by the Cemetery!

Hot shot New York City doctor Norman Boyle (Paolo Malco) takes over the investigation of a historical home down Massachusetts way started by his pal Dr. Petersen, who just so happens to have offed himself after making his mistress extinct. I certainly hope the former owner of the house had nothing to do with all that unpleasantness…

Anyhow, ol’ Norm packs up his wife Lucy (the loverly Catriona MacColl) and his son Bob (who has been having all manner of weird psychic connections to the house in the form of communications with an odd little girl named Mae (Silvia Collatina)… which as strange as that is, doesn’t even come close to matching the blazing nonsense that is his voice in the English dub) and heads to Mass to take up residence in that dread dwelling.

One deranged babysitter (Ania Pieroni) and a trip to the basement later, and it becomes clear that the malevolent presence of the house’s previous owner Dr. Freudstein (Giovanni De Nava) has made the scene and he looks as shitty as his disposition!

Part of a film cycle that also includes 1980’s City of the Living Dead and 1981’s The BeyondHouse by the Cemetery represented Italian horror maestro Lucio Fulci’s desire to create films with heavy Lovecraftian influences without being based on any particular H.P. Lovecraft tale. To that end we have a New England setting, folks dealing with a madness-inducing supernatural menace, and a family cursed by preternatural forces (and they aren’t even the protagonists)… all tried and true elements of ol’ Howard Phillips’ oeuvre for sure (not to mention a pinch of The Amityville Horror here and The Shining there what with the house with a dark past and the father figure who has “been to the remote location” before even though he has no recollection of being there… not to mention that both were popular box office draws of the time).

Adding to the frightful fun are plenty of late Autumn exteriors, cemeteries, fever-dream logic, and the titular House itself; a dilapidated Victorian-era number complete with glowing spectral eyes, cobwebbed rooms, and a horrorshow of a basement featuring postmortem interior decorating courtesy of Dr. Freudstein (himself a wonderfully unique and grizzly design courtesy of  make-up effects wizard Maurizio Trani). Not to mention choice cuts of grizzly gore sure to satisfy the terror tooth of any horror hound!

All of this congeals into a heady blend of the surreal and horror movie tropes that rocks n’ rolls along like a particularly nasty nightmare experience that lovers of the horror biz will be reticent to wake up from; in other words, it’s one of the nicest slices of Italian genre cinema you are ever likely to consume!

While House by the Cemetery is one of Fulci’s all-time best flicks, and worth your time and dough on it’s own, Blue Underground has really pulled out all stops on the bonus content on this Blu-ray release!

First up we get an audio commentary courtesy of Fulci scholar and author Troy Howarth, that covers all aspects of the film’s production in a fantastic listen that provides the info in an upbeat and fun manner, followed by a deleted scene, trailers (one featuring narration by the ever-awesome Brother Theodore no less), a TV spot (Theo makes the scene here as well), and poster and still galleries.

Also included on a separate disc are archival interviews with stars MacColl, Malco, Collatina, Giovanni Frezza (Bob! And yes… he’s aware of the dubbing and good-natured about it), Dagmar Lassander, and Carlo De Mejo, Co-Writers Dardano Sacchetti and Elisa Briganti, Cinematographer Sergio Salvati, Special Make-Up Effects Artist Maurizio Trani, Special Effects Artist Gino De Rossi, and actor Giovanni De Nava, as well as a Q&A sesh with MacColl, and a retrospective of the film courtesy of author Stephen Thrower.

Bottom line, House by the Cemetery is Italian fright flick royalty, and belongs in the creepy collection of every horror hound that digs on the off-kilter world of spaghetti shockers!

 

 

 

 

These flicks are undisputed grindhouse classics… and are absolute “must owns”, especially with this visual upgrade!

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