In Belgium, Lucio Fulci’s New York Ripper was released as “De Doder van New York” as evidenced by the cover of the VHS tape below (a promotional poster also exists). Multiple sources state that the movie was released in the Netherlands as “De Slachter van New York” but so far I have not seen any evidence of this online; no videocassette covers, no poster or other promotional materials, and a web search produces only a handful of items that do not reveal any more information.
This short review (or more aptly, a description) of the New York Ripper in the Dutch newspaper Leidsch Dagblad of December 16, 1983 does use the name “De Slachter van New York” but whether the author refers to the title of the Dutch release is ambiguous.
The atmospheric opening scene in Lucio Fulci’s nihilistic giallo masterpiece “The New York Ripper” (1982) starts with pan shots of the Manhattan skyline, the East river, and riverside Brooklyn with the urban sounds of traffic and police sirens setting the scene. An old man is walking his dog along the East River near Manhattan Bridge and starts playing fetch.
A second throw lands the stick into the bushes but the dog returns with a decomposed hand instead, at which point the frame freezes and the music and opening titles begin.
In 1976 Herbert Lieberman wrote a gritty forensic detective novel named “City of the Dead,” which is set in the same era’s seedy New York City. It is possible that the opening scene in the New York Ripper was inspired by this book. In chapter 10 of “City of the Dead”, Herbert Lieberman writes:
“The guy’s out walkin’ his dog, see? Right along the river. ‘Bout six A.M. The dog’s runnin’ around off the leash, see? And the guy’s just suckin’ up the breeze. Enjoyin’ the sunrise-”
“Skip the poetry, will you, Flynn? Just get on with the details.”
Flynn seems momentarily injured by the Chief’s impatience, but he continues. “Anyway, the guy whistles for Rover. The dog starts runnin’ toward him, see? Tail waggin’. All full of piss and vinegar. Only he’s got a goddamn hand in his mouth.”
“Yeah – a human hand.”
The cover design, ghoulish female face, and font type of the 1977 paperback edition of “City of the Dead” anticipate another horror movie; George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978). But unlike George Romero’s zombie movie, Lieberman’s book deals with a grotesque murder and the physiological disintegration of New York’s Chief Medical Examiner of New York. This paperback copy was tracked down in Kuala Lumpur’s “Junk Bookstore” in July, 2015.
“I do not think about development and progress in music, art or anything else. They seem to be phantoms, somewhat like those visions beloved of our religious fanatics, professional politicians and other deluded people, all of whom bother our world severely. How can I put it? There is nothing which this music has to do and there is nowhere that it has to go.”
(Interview with David Jackman (Organum), April/May of 2007)
“To look through a Becher book is to take a lesson in vernacular aesthetics ; it is to learn to read differences in composition, rhythm and formal solutions where an ordinarily eye would see only indifference and standardisation; it is to derive intense pleasure from your own capacity of discrimination; it is to suffer from your inability to back it up by a technical vocabulary that would make it possible for you to detail a gasometer’s architecture as if it were a cathedral.”
Thierry de Duve, ‘Bernd et Hilla Becher ou la photographie monumentaire’ in Les Cahiers du Musée national d’art moderne, no. 39, pp. 118-29.