Mythological tales exist from almost every culture you can think of — Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Egyptian, etc. They are rich in culture and tell a great deal about the history of the people whom created such stories. There is plenty of material out there and one director who was intelligent and imaginative enough to seize the opportunity to make a film about some of the mythos was Lucio Fulci with his 1982 production, Manhattan Baby.
While on vacation in Egypt, Susie (Brigitta Boccoli) meets a frightening woman who gives her a mysterious amulet. This cursed gift causes Susie’s father to lose his sight, while exploring the ancient ruins of Egypt. The family return to their home in New York, but things are not as they were before their trip; An ancient evil has accompanied them back to the states…
The late 70’s and early 80’s were a time when most, if not all, Italian horror directors were steadily making films about zombies and cannibals. Genre maestro and the man who I’ve taken my last name from, Lucio Fulci, decided to switch up the formula and create a film totally different from the rest. Manhattan Baby was the result — A film about an ancient Egyptian curse taking over the soul of a young girl and wreaking havoc on her entire family and everyone around them. At the time, no other film had ventured into the Egyptian mythos and although the film wasn’t necessarily a hit with its intended audience, here we are, 35 years later, still watching and discussing it.
Manhattan Baby features an all Italian cast of actors who are basically on par with what we’ve all become accustomed to in Italian productions from that era. That isn’t to say the performances are good or bad, in either direction, but they all suffice to help progress the story in which Fulci and his team were attempting to tell. I always comment child actors, especially those in horror films, because of what they must endure on set. Brigitta Boccoli and Giovanni Frezza both did great as the youngest cast members in a film about the supernatural and ancient curses.
Horror fans who fiend for tons of deaths may be disappointed, as the body count is rather low here. The few who do meet their demise on-screen, however, do so in rather bloody fashion, supplying fans with enough gore, all beautifully achieved with practical effects, to more than make up for the film’s slower moments. Long time Fulci collaborator, Maurizio Trani, worked on the make-up and effects for Manhattan Baby, making animal attacks and re-animated corpses look brutal and stunning at the same time.
Manhattan Baby isn’t my favorite film in Fulci’s expansive filmography, but it does still manage to hold its own. It is fantastic to see the talented filmmaker straying from the pack, making films about subjects that he wanted to explore. His worldly knowledge and imaginative creativeness shines through, during the film’s entirety and makes for an entertaining 89 minutes.
If you are a Fulci fan, I think it needless to say, Manhattan Baby is a must-see. Like I mentioned in one of my last reviews (Venom), Blue Underground, although already a favorite of mine, managed to step up their home release game in a big way, in 2016. Their latest foray into the Fulci filmography is no different. This bad boy not only comes with the film on Blu-ray and DVD, but also contains the soundtrack on CD, a collectible booklet with writing from author Troy Howarth, and tons of bonus interviews and featurettes. I highly recommend picking this one up and am extremely proud to own it in my ever-growing collection of horror cinema.
Manhattan Baby gets an official Repulsive rating of 3 lousy lesbians out of 5 from yours truly, Frank Fulci.