Friday, April 24, 2009

Manhattan Baby (1982, Lucio Fulci)

After Fulci hit his apex with his Living Dead films (Zombie, City of the Living Dead, The Beyond and House by the Cemetery) and returned to the giallo genre that he explored in the early 70s (though this time in a much more violent and sleazy way with New York Ripper), where was he to go? His next film is almost like a continuation of his living dead films, though it was missing the main component of these films: Zombies. Instead, Fulci made more of a ghost/poltergeist type film, with mixed results.

Professor George Hacker (Christopher Connelly) travels with his young daughter to Egypt for work. The Professor accidentally unleashes an evil spirit while excavating a long lost tomb. His daughter becomes possessed by the spirit after accepting a medallion from a blind woman, who's eyes are glazed over in white like those in The Beyond. This is the film's only real connection with Fulci's past films other than the re-appearance of young Giovanni Frezza who played Bob in House by the Cemetery and this time plays Tommy, Professor Hacker's young son. Anyway, the Hackers travel back to their native Manhattan and people start dying at the hand of the unleashed spirit.

I had high expectations for this, really hoping it would be a good companion piece to Fulci's previous supernatural zombie films. I actually wish Fulci chose to add some zombies to this film as he did to the original zombie-less The Beyond. It may have actually given this film a reason to be watched. As it is, Manhattan Baby is a snoozefest. Other than a really cool death in the beginning of the film, this movie is really slow and uninteresting. The characters are bland and the story's pace would lose in a race with a dead slug. The movie doesn't completely suck, but overall it pales in comparison to Fulci's other similarly-themed films and even some of his experiments in other genres.



  1. I just watched (again) city of the Living Dead last night. That's my favorite, I think, of the ones I've seen (I have seen all the ones you mention). I have tried other Italian horror, but Fulci remains my favorite. There is a beauty to his lighting and shot composition that is unmatched. I just can't forget the shot of the priest walking through the graveyard that opens City of the Living Dead. By the way, do you know of the book "100 European Horror Films" edited by Steven Jay Schneider (BFI Screen Guides). I highly recommend it to you in particular. You Would Love It. It is available at Amazon. -- Mykal

  2. Once again, I'm overjoyed that you are digging the Fulci films. He is known to most by his gore, but many people don't realize that he was actually a good director in any genre he worked in. I'll have to look up 100 European Horror Films. I love reading about films almost as much as watching them.

  3. 2/5 kidding? Any creativity along the lines of death or gore effects? At least with even Conquest there were satisfactory elements of this nature.

    By the way, that is the review I'm most eager to see next ..just because I have to better understand the perception behind why it's so contrary to my own opinions ......

  4. There was actually very little gore. The movie just was not very entertaining.

    Don't worry, Conquest will be coming soon....