Sunday, October 14, 2012

Film Review: MANHATTAN BABY (1982, Lucio Fulci)



Stars: 2 of 5.
Running Time: 89 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew:  Written by Elisa Briganti (1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS, ZOMBI 2) and Dardano Sacchetti (DEMONS, THE BEYOND).  Starring Christopher Connelly (PEYTON PLACE, BENJI), Laura Lenzi (THE ADVENTURES OF HERCULES II), and Giovanni Frezza (that damn kid from THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, THE NEW BARBARIANS, and A BLADE IN THE DARK!).  Music by Fabio Frizzi (THE PSYCHIC, ZOMBIE, THE BEYOND).  Cinematography by Guglielmo Mancori (SPASMO, FUZZY THE HERO, RUN MAN RUN).
Tag-line: "Little Suzy is very young, very pretty, and very, very evil!"
Best one-liner: "AHHHHHHHHH!"


This is an older review that was never published for some reason or another.  Enjoy.
Some people say that Fulci has a "Gates of Hell" trilogy.  Indeed, THE BEYOND, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, and CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, all sort of have a something to do with the concept of the "Gates of Hell."  Well, I'm going to go ahead and declare another Fulci trilogy:  "The New York Trilogy," and lemme tell ya, it gives Paul Auster's a run for his money.  The included films would be ZOMBI 2 (bookended by scenes in New York), the jaw-dropping NEW YORK RIPPER, and MANHATTAN BABY.  Grouping them together means that MANHATTAN BABY imparts no more nor less meaning than if it were standing alone.

 In fact, if this movie makes a shred of sense, then I'm sober. Now I cant say that I was (sober) last night when I viewed this fine film, but I was with two other intelligent, semi-focused people, and between the three of us, all we could figure out was this, which should read something like a schizophrenic's telegram: 

EGYPT GEM SUPERNATURAL SNAKES POLAROIDS. STOP.  




FAMILY POLTERGEIST-INDIANA JONES RIP-OFF. STOP.  
  
 Kid's even got a clown toy like in POLTERGEIST.

DEATH BY STUFFED BIRDS THAT COME ALIVE THAT AREN'T REALLY ALIVE IT WAS JUST A HALLUCINATION BUT THEN WHY IS HE STILL DEAD.  STOP.


 The stuffed birds in question, causing mischief and Fulci-esque eye trauma.

That's about it in a nutshell. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Italians in the 70s and 80s were missing some crucial brain component. Usually that's a good thing. It gave us MURDERROCK, PHENOMENA, and the rockin' tunes of Goblin. But MANHATTAN BABY is the flip side, the dark side, of that coin. I mean there's a couple good things going on- bad dubbing of children, a whacked out soundtrack that somehow weaves its way into the narrative when one of the characters whistles it (why do Italians always do that?!), some fake spring-loaded flying snakes, some eye-gouging, and a twist ending that confounds more than it shocks; but overall, it's something of a bizarro snoozefest. 

 And I swear that's one of the masks from TROLL 2

Oh, and it's got that towheaded kid (Giovanni Frezza) who was apparently the only genre child actor in all of Italy from 1980-1985.  You know the one I mean– that kid from DEMONS and THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY and THE NEW BARBARIANS and A BLADE IN THE DARK and A LEAP IN THE DARK!



Anyway, I'd describe it as good background material for an Italo-Horror party, or something of that nature, but it hasn't got much of the truly inspired lunacy that is typical of the Fulci we know and love.  Allow me to push on you instead:  THE NEW YORK RIPPER, MURDERROCK, or LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN.

-Sean Gill

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