Manhattan Baby (1982)
By: Mark Nichols on December 13, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Stomp Visual (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 85 minutes
The Movie
Director: Lucio Fulci
Starring: Christopher Connelly, Martha Taylor, Brigitta Boccoli, Giovanni Frezza, Cinzia de Ponti
Screenplay: Elisa Briganti, Dardano Sacchetti
Music: Fabio Frizzi
Tagline: Little Susie is very young, very pretty, and very very evil!
Country: Italy
American archaeologist George Hacker (Christopher Connelly) travels to Egypt to explore a recently unearthed ancient tomb. Meanwhile his wife Emily (Martha Taylor) and daughter Suzie (Brigitta Boccoli) visit the nearby Sphinx and pyramids. While she is being photographed in front of the sphinx, Suzie goes into a trance and sand in her hand slowly falls through her fingers. Near her feet a small vortex of sand slowly grows deeper. Could this symbolise the opening of a doorway to another dimension?

Suzie is approached by an old woman with white eyes who gives her an amulet. "Tombs are for the dead" she ominously warns. Meanwhile Hacker, being an expert in the field of archaeology, breaks a seal in the ancient tomb that triggers the gruesome demise of an assistant. Only this and one other scene has the gore that Lucio Fulci fans may come to expect so enjoy them while you can! Hacker discovers a blue glowing light emanating from a gem on the wall of the tomb, which blinds him. Around the gem is an eye insignia, identical to the amulet Suzie now has. Could they be linked?

Back in Manhattan, Hacker convalesces after being told he could be blind for up to a year. We learn he also has a son, Tommy (Giovanni Frezza who was also in House by the Cemetery) who has inexplicably stayed in New York with his nanny. Strange 'supernatural' things begin to happen around the house. The amulet has opened a portal to Egypt and those who enter it shall die horrible off-screen deaths. (Except for Tommy and Suzie, who can travel within the walls of the house). Can Hacker get his sight back and solve the riddle of the ancient curse to save his family? Or will he just drop the amulet off a bridge, making everything alright?

Every aspect of Manhattan Baby is a rip-off of other films including The Exorcist (One and two), The Awakening, The Omen 2 and Poltergeist (to name but a few). The pace of the story is mind-numbingly slow and at times the narrative is jumbled, like a surreal dream. Like when Tommy enters a large glowing doorway and disappears into the house while Suzie screams in terror, only to reappear later with Suzie as though nothing had happened. The ending is also pathetic. Cinematography by Franco Bruni is great though, with dramatic zooms and all. He makes good use of the 2:35.1 wide screen format and photographs the locations in Egypt and New York beautifully.

The best, and unintentionally funny, scenes in Manhattan Baby involve a man being attacked by three stuffed birds that become reanimated. They fly through the air suspended by noticeable fishing wire and his face is gruesomely pecked at by dodgy hand puppets!
Very good digital transfer from what looks like good quality original film negative. Only an occasional small hair on edge of some scenes captured during telecine.
The 2.0 soundtrack features music ripped off from previous Fulci films such as The Beyond. All dialogue has been dubbed in post production so no surprises there.
Extra Features
Manhattan Baby and The New York Ripper Trailers; a few (not very good) production stills.
The Verdict
It was the extreme gore of Fulci's previous films like Zombie, The Beyond and House by the Cemetery that made me love his work, but seeing one of his films with very little gore is like a cake with no icing on top. Manhattan Baby is much too slow, has a haphazard narrative and is extremely unoriginal.
Movie Score
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