EYE OF THE EVIL DEAD; THE POSSESSED
Manhattan Baby falls into being one of these less interesting Lucio Fulci films. Fulci certainly has a reasonable budget on hand, enough to allow him to go on location not only in Manhattan but also to Egypt (even if every second shot seems to be a picture postcard one that frames some Egyptian landmark in the background). Manhattan Baby is also very nicely photographed at times, all of which shows Fulci on the verge of moving out of the B-movie ghetto most of his other films around this period were trapped in.
On the other hand, there are all the usual bafflingly cryptic Fulci-esque happenings a glowing doorway opens up in young son Giovanni Frezzas bedroom and he vanishes through it, after which the phrase Daddy Help Me appears in a mirror, a probable attempt to copy Poltergeist (1982), which came out two months earlier; laser beams appear out of the side of the wall in the tomb and blind Christopher Connelly and then equally arbitrarily reappear in his apartment and cure the blindness; the son leaves smoking palm prints; a photo of the kids taken by the au pair shows nothing there except the amulet; an x-ray of Brigitta Broccolis stomach reveals a snake coiled inside. There are various random deaths a security guard in the apartment block enters a lift, which falls apart, while his hands start bleeding as he tries to pry the doors open before the floor of the lift collapses beneath him; Martha Taylors work colleague Carlo De Mejo vanishes through the glowing door in Tommys room, leaving only a pile of sand in the middle of the room and later turns up dead. There is some occasional trademark Fulci gore Christopher Connellys native bearer falling down into the tomb where his body is impaled on spikes; a scene where Laurence Wells stuffed birds comes to life (on clearly visible wires) and peck him to death but mostly the film is lacking in the gore effects that Fulci became known for. (The stuffed bird sequence does yield the pricelessly cheesy line: You can take my body with stuffed birds but not have my immortal soul).
The complete lack of narrative drive, only punctuated by random supernatural effects and occasional gore scenes, makes for a dull film. The threat posed by the Egyptian god Habanoganah and the amulet is extremely vague and there is no sense that the characters are fighting against any clear-cut menace. In fact, in Lucio Fulcis perpetual straining for atmosphere, the non-narrative, the blank characters and lack even of identifiable conflict, Manhattan Baby proves a boring film. Certainly, in many respects, Manhattan Baby is not too different to Dario Argentos Inferno (1980), which was likewise a series of surreal and plotless supernatural killings set around a New York City apartment unlike Argento however, Fulci is a hack director with little in the way of style.
Like most of Lucio Fulcis films, Manhattan Baby has existed under a variety of titles. In the US, it was renamed Eye of the Evil Dead to capitalise on the success of Sam Raimis The Evil Dead (1982). It is also available in a variety of cut and uncut forms.
Lucio Fulcis other films are: Perversion Story (1969), Lizard in a Womans Skin (1971), Dont Torture the Duckling (1972), Dracula in the Provinces (1975), The Psychic (1977), Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979), City of the Living Dead/Gates of Hell (1980), The Beyond/The Seven Doors to Death (1981), The Black Cat (1981), The House By the Cemetery (1981), The New York Ripper (1981), Conquest (1983), Rome 2072 A.D. (1983), Murderock (1984), The Devils Honey/Dangerous Obsession (1986), Aenigma (1987), Touch of Death/When Alice Broke the Mirror (1988), Zombi 3 (1988), Demonia (1990), Nightmare Concert (1990), Voices from Beyond (1991) and Door to Silence (1992).
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