Sunday, January 9, 2011

Manhattan Baby (1982)

A long time ago, during the ancient nineties, people actually hated Manhattan Baby. Said it was the beginning of all the bad movies Fulci made after his gore-soaked horror-career (that only included 4-5 movies, the “fans” had no idea about the movies before that). But now it’s a different time, and even some of his even later movies have got the blessing from the nasty nerds out there in the void. I saw Manhattan Baby on a VHS-bootleg the first time and was even then impressed by its visuals, but the sound was bad and it was hard to concentrate. Some years ago I bought the DVD and since then I’ve learned to fully appreciate the amazing little movie that Manhattan Baby is.

Christopher Connelly is Professor George Hacker, an archaeologist who brought his daughter and wife to Egypt for some work and vacation. During a mysterious event, his daughter gets a gift – an amulet with enormous powers. At the same time Hacker and his colleague is involved in a terrible accident inside an old pyramid and Hacker is left blind…
Back in New York the treatment for his eyes starts, and it’s looking good. But his daughter has shown the amulet to her little brother and together they start use it, for “journeys”… Soon people start to die around the family, is it possible to stop the curse?

Manhattan Baby isn’t as confusing as some people will say, the story is quite clear but they just left out a lot of details, a lot of explanations. I’m happy for that, I want to fill in the blanks myself. I guess the thought is something supernatural, something occult, but for me it always has been connected to ancient technology. The stories about the Egyptians and their unknown, lost, technology is famous and some even claim they was aliens (no, I don’t think so – I didn’t even believe in Santa or God as a kid). The amulet, according to me, is not so much a supernatural thing, but a technological thing. Maybe connected with radioactive power. A time machine, or a dimension portal, highly dangerous in the wrong hands. The occultist, Adrian Marcato (the always awesome Cosimo Cinieri), reacts like he’s been exposed to strong radioactivity (blood from nose and ears, spasms) after touching the amulet for example.

Manhattan Baby is also, as usual with Fulci, a beautiful movie with so much atmosphere that even James Whale deserves to be a bit jealous. The opening in Egypt, is among the best sequences in a horror movie Fulci ever directed! Everything is perfection, a flawless use of camera and lightning. Compared to his other horror flicks it’s quite low on gore, but the the little that is looks great, from the nice impalement in the beginning to the nasty and ultra-gory bird-scene in the end. In-between Fulci gives us a lot of nice set-pieces with cool effects and that special Italian movie-poetry that we learned to love from him.

Manhattan Baby is another proof that Lucio Fulci was a master storyteller, who could show stuff with only his camera that other directors only could dream of. Now when I come to think of it, he should have done a silent movie! That would have been very, very cool.

8 comments:

Nigel Maskell said...

thanks for saying this- Manhattan Baby does get, in general, a pretty bad press. Its a delightful film, and its nice to read some acknowledgement of that for a change.

Sutekh said...

Odd that you reviewed this today. I've had the Anchor Bay disc for a decade unwatched and then got the Shameless last month. Only today did I watch it for the first time, and while it didn't make a lick of sense, I thought it was pretty damn good. Repeat viewing required.

CiNEZiLLA said...

Manhattan Baby is a very cool movie, just like you say. I think what makes people less fond of it is that it's a "bright" and "airy" movie compared to the "dark " and "Claustrophobic" flicks that make up that core period.
I like it all the same and there's a lot of fine stuff going on in that movie.

:)

Jocke Andersson said...

I think the reason why a lot of people hate this is that it comes straight after his most known and extreme gorefilms, all while being restrained on the violence. I remember feeling exactly like that when I first watched it some twenty years ago... and I liked it a lot more when I rewatched it under completely different circumstances a year or two ago.

Juan J. Espinoza said...

Maybe Manhattan Baby is one undeclared influence on Guillermo del Toro's Cronos. Now that you mention the thing about technology.. mmm good time to rewatch Manhattan Baby.

Steve Langton said...

Good to see some love for this. Makes for a good double bill with The Beyond and one of Fulci's real gems.

Ninja Dixon said...

I agree with ya all! I think it will get even better reviews in the future, grow even more on the fans and critics out there.

peliculas said...

http://www.divxonline.info/pelicula/14047/Manhattan-Baby-1982/