• Manhattan Baby



    Released by: Blue Underground
    Released on: October 25th 2016.
    Director: Lucio Fulci
    Cast: Christopher Connelly, Martha Taylor, Brigitta Boccoli, Giovanni Frezza, Cinzia de Ponti
    Year: 1982
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    The Movie:

    An archeologist named George Hacker (Christopher Connelly) is on vacation in Egypt with his daughter Susie (Brigitta Boccoli) and the rest of his family when a strange blind woman Susie encounters in a bazaar gives the young girl an ancient amulet. From there, George goes digging around in a tomb only to have a jewel he uncovers blast him in the eyes with a blue laser, leaving him blind and his guide dead.

    They return to their home in New York City where George’s doctor diagnoses his blindness as temporary. While he recovers, Susie’s life takes some strange turns when all manner of bizarre activity surrounds her, seeming to stem back to that amulet she got in Egypt. Susie and her younger brother Tommy (Giovanni Frezza of House By The Cemetery infamy!) are involved in something, but what exactly that is remains to be seen – is there an occult force at work here? Is there something trying to break through from another dimension? Or has poor Susie somehow become possessed? As the bodies pile up, George and an antiquities expert named Adrian Marcato (Cosmimo Cinieri) try their damnedest to figure out what’s going on and save Susie from whatever it is that’s causing all of this in the first place.

    Also known as Eye Of The Evil Dead (which is a much more fitting title than Manhattan Baby), this one takes elements from Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen and The Exorcist and throws it all into one crazy blender. The result is… a mess, to be sure, but it’s a pretty entertaining mess in its own screwy way. Made on a pretty low budget, the film starts off pretty strongly. The scenes that open the movie and that take place in Egypt are actually quite well done. They have atmosphere and they’re nicely shot and they set up an interesting premise. From there, once we head back to American soil, things go in a lot of different directions at once. Tommy walks into a closet filled with light and then just sort of comes back later on his own, no one seems to mind too much. Susie bounces back between terrified of what she’s experiencing and seemingly quite amused by it. The parents don’t get nearly as involved as you’d think they would and they whole narrative feels like it was strung together to showcase a few effects set pieces rather than to tell a proper story.

    However, there are some amusing effects set pieces and the cinematography is typically really good. Despite its low budget the film has some technical polish to it that is easy to appreciate. The cast is interesting. Christopher Connelly is sufficient enough in the lead, if unremarkable, while Cosmimo Cinieri is amusing in the way that strange character actors like Cosmimo Cinieri tend to be. Brigitta Boccoli and Giovanni Frezza get a lot of screen time here. Boccoli is decent enough but Frezze is almost as annoying here as he was in House By The Cemetery, the film he’ll always be remembered for where he starred as ‘Bob’ (possibly the most annoying child in any Italian horror film ever made). If you don’t mind the fact that the plot is dopey and illogical, however, there’s enough ‘stuff’ going on throughout the movie that, if nothing else, it isn’t boring.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The AVC encoded 2.35.1 widescreen high definition transfer on the disc was sourced from the original camera negative according to the box copy and it looks very good. Detail is typically very strong save for a few scenes that use some softer focus, while colors look excellent from start to finish. We also get nice looking skin tones and good black levels as well as solid texture. There are no noticeable issues with noise reduction or any of that obvious and sometimes distracting noise that has popped up on transfers of various Italian genre pictures over the last few years. Picture quality here is really strong.

    Audio options are handled by your choice of an English DTS-HD 5.1 Surround Sound or DTS-HD 2.0 Mono mix with optional subtitles provided in English SDH, French and Spanish. The mono track sounds a little more ‘pure’ in that it would seem to more accurately reflect the film’s original sound design, but the 5.1 track is there for those who want it and it does spread out the effects and score a fair bit. Both tracks feature properly balanced levels and are free of any hiss or distortion.

    You want extras? You’ve got’em! The supplements kick off with a thirteen minute piece entitled Stephen Thrower On Manhattan Baby in which the man who wrote Beyond Terror: The Films Of Lucio Fulci offers up his thoughts and opinions on this particular entry in the late director’s filmography. Thrower makes some interesting observations as to the merits of the picture and its effects work while speaking quite highly of the score. Moving right along, check out the nine minute piece entitled For The Birds, which is an interview with actor Cosimo Cinieri. Here he shares some thoughts on what it was like to work on a Fulci set, his opinions on his character and his interesting death scene and some of his thoughts on the movie itself. In 25 Years With Fulci we get an eleven minute interview with special makeup effects artist Maurizio Trani that, as you’d guess, covers what was involved in creating the makeup effects scene in the feature. He shares some amusing stories about working with the director not just on this film but on a few of his other features as well. Screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti gets eight minutes in front of the camera in a segment called Beyond The Living Dead where he gets pretty open about Fulci’s dark side, the quality of the film that Manhattan Baby became after budgetary restraints came into play and how they were trying to do something new and different wit this project.

    However, the biggest and best of the extras on this release is an interview with composer Fabio Frizzi entitled Fulci & I that runs almost an entire hour in length. More than just a look at the work he did with Fulci, this actually covers pretty much his entire career. Here he speaks about how he got into music and from there, into composing for films. Of course he does cover the Fulci movies he made, they’re too iconic to leave out, but he also talks about other work he’s done over the years. Alongside the interview footage there’s also some interesting studio footage and live footage edited into the piece. Great stuff.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc are an eight minute live performance of Manhattan Baby Suite by Fabio Frizzi and his band, a still gallery and the film’s original theatrical trailer. Menus and chapter selection are also provided.

    Also included inside the clear Blu-ray case is a DVD version of the movie and a third disc containing the film’s complete soundtrack on CD. Blue Underground has also included an insert booklet of liner notes that contains an essay from Troy Howarth, author of the Lucio Fulci tome Splintered Visions that offers up a pretty fair assessment of this particular entry in Fulci’s filmography as well as some interesting facts and opinions on the picture.

    The Final Word:

    Manhattan Baby isn’t Fulci’s best film, not by a long shot, but it has occasional atmosphere and some fun moments that do work. Blue Underground have given the film a seriously impressive special edition, however, presenting it in fantastic shape and with a staggering amount of extra features.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!