Sutton Square in The New York Ripper

One of the more intriguing shots in Lucio Fulci’s The New York Ripper involves the residence of nymphomaniac Jane Lodge and her husband. A close examination of this scene reveals the distinctive features of the Queensboro Bridge before zooming in on their house. The conjunction of the Queensboro Bridge and the grandeur of their home leave little doubt that their mansion is located in the Sutton Place neighborhood.

7 Sutton Square as seen in Lucio Fulci’s The New York Ripper (1982)

Their home at the end of E 58th street, 7 Sutton Square, formerly known as 1 Riverview Terrace, has a long and fascinating history. Unlike many other cities, the New York City waterfront was traditionally not considered a desirable place to live for wealthy people. During the 20th century, however, the neighborhood known as Sutton Place increasingly became an attractive and secluded place to reside. The residences on Riverview Terrace even enjoy a private, gated, waterfront park.

If one would go out and search for the building with its distinctive white brick and lemon shutters that is seen in The New York Ripper, one would have a hard time locating it since the house was restored back to its original red brick colors. Also missing today are the two sea creatures (modeled after the gates within the Giardino di Boboli in Florence, Italy) that sat on top of the entry gates to Riverview Terrace.

7 Sutton Square in June, 2019. Photo by Niyati Shah

The choice of 7 Sutton Square as the couple’s residence in The New York Ripper is suggestive because the decayed and corroded sights of the Queensboro bridge behind it draw attention to the neglected and dangerous New York City that is so prominently featured in Fulci’s American giallo classic.

The Sutton Place neighborhood is no stranger to murder mysteries, as evidenced by the cover of Robert George Dean’s “The Sutton Place Murders”, a novel published in 1936.

The Twin Towers in The New York Ripper

The old World Trade Center is a staple in many 1970s and 1980s grindhouse classics such as “I Spit on Your Grave”, “Zombie”, “The House on the Edge of the Park”, and “Cannibal Holocaust.” A close viewing of Lucio Fulci’s “The New York Ripper” reveals four distinct scenes in which the Twin Tower are seen.

In the Brooklyn opening scene of the movie the Twin Towers are briefly visible when the camera pans to show Manhattan.

The second time we see the Twin Towers is during the scene where the young woman boards the Staten Island Ferry. What is intriguing about this scene is that the towers cannot only be seen just after the departure of the ferry, but there is also a quick cut to the towers during the murder scene in the car.

The Twin Towers can also be seen in this German New York Ripper lobby card below but, to my knowledge, this shot is not an actual shot from the movie and must be a production photo or unused footage.


The next time we see the World Trade Center is when the NYC police deploys a helicopter to assist in tracking down the location of the murderer’s phone calls.

Not long after this scene, the World Trade Center is visible on several occasions when Lieutenant Williams arrives at the location where the calls were made but….

De Slachter van New York

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.

De Doder van New York
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.

De Slachter van New York Leidsch Dagblad Dec16 1983

Further complicating matters is this rare, poorly designed, bilingual, poster from Belgium that features “De Ripper van New York” as the title.

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Herbert Lieberman and the New York Ripper

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.

new-york-ripper-bridge
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.”
“A hand?”
“Yeah – a human hand.”

nyripperbr-01

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 psychological 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.

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