Monday, November 18, 2013

I'm a Manhattan Baby

There’s something about the title “Manhattan Baby” that just SCREAMS Big Broadway Musical. Once you learn that this actually applies to a typical gooey piece of slightly surreal, slightly just messy Lucio Fulci horror, it positively BEGS for the deluxe Andrew Lloyd Webber treatment.

Quick Plot: While on work vacation in Egypt, the Hacker family experiences a few unhappy events that probably won’t make the annual slideshow recap. Father George, an archaeologist, explores a pyramid only to be blinded by lasers (it’s just like when the airport loses your luggage, only you’re blinded by lasers) while daughter Susie is gifted with a sparkly, eeeeeeeeviiiiiiiiiiil amulet by a blind old woman.

Back home in New York, Susie quickly shows symptoms of demonic possession by an ancient Egyptian evil. Or, more precisely , signs that she’s in a movie helmed by Lucio Fulci.

Observe the following touchstones:

-a blind woman with no pupils

-the very hard-working electronic score


-a character named Emily

-a plot that kinda makes sense, but also really doesn’t

-portals to netherworlds

Far less beloved than The Beyond or City of the Living Dead, Manhattan Baby sees Fulci coasting on his landmarks but still having some fun. Take, for whatever reason, a supporting character who just happens to insist upon playing with goofy magician props in every one of his few scenes. Perhaps it’s necessary since his disappearance gives us such lines as “He’s a frivolous guy but this is serious!”

Lucio Fulci is rarely considered a master of the genre. While I will go to my grave arguing the merits of his underrated giallo Don’t Torture a Duckling, his films are generally riddled with laziness, be it stories that don’t add up, blatantly homemade special effects, and dialogue written and spoken by a first level ESL student. That being said, there’s also a whole lot of entertainment to usually be had. Yes, crunchy pipe cleaner tarantulas are funnier than they are scary, but I’ll take them over slow dragging cinema any day. 

High Points
You can never fault Fulci for featuring dull deaths. Reanimating taxidermied vultures for a true birdemic with visible wires? Yes please

Low Points
Perhaps it’s that Manhattan Baby has a more straightforward plot than something like The Beyond, but there’s something about the story that just drags in a way that screams for more shots of venomous snakes alternated with shots of an actress screaming even though it’s clear they’re never in the same room

Lessons Learned
Don’t ever forget that the scorpion is a symbol of death

If you’re an actress playing a babysitter and your name is Jamie Lee, you will be okay. If you’re a character babysitting NAMED Jamie Lee, you should find new employment or make a thorough will

When filming, even with a low budget, it’s important to notice the little things, like when a large piece of hair is stuck to the center of your camera and therefore visible in several key scenes

Manhattan Baby is a "Long Wait" on Netflix, so it's worth putting toward the top of your queue just to ensure you get it before it becomes unavailable (trust me: I've been burned before). That being said, you're far better off watching Fulci's more famous melty movies, so this one should be reserved for true enthusiasts. Yes, there are lasers and zombified birds pecking out eyeballs, but there’s also a lot of muddled exposition in between. 


  1. Love the blog! Wanted to pop in and let ya know that you've won the Sunshine Award! Check it out here, and keep on postin', can't wait to read more :)

    Keep it spooky,

  2. The first time I saw Manhattan Baby, I thought it was the worst and most boring horror movie of all time. The second time I saw it, about ten years later, I thought it was mesmerizing. This sums up most of my relationship with the movies of Lucio Fulci, except for The Beyond which is, um, beyond reproach.

    1. The Beyond was probably the first Fulci I saw, which made something like this or City of the Living Dead something of a letdown. I still vouch hard for Don't Torture a Duckling though!