Manhattan Baby, directed by the great Lucio Fulci, is a disconnected and disconcerting effort that makes little sense and simply ends up being a very strange yet somehow compelling piece of film.
It all begins well enough in Egypt as a father, mother and daughter are on a dig of some sort and the little girl comes into possession of an amulet. As it turns out, the amulet is cursed to some degree and after heading back home to Manhattan, things go from normal to absurdly crazy as people start dying after being around said girl, gateways open to other dimensions, mysterious lights and lasers appear and parapsychology is brought in to explain some of it and yet, fails to do so. This is, without a doubt, one of the more insane movies to ever come from Fulci and while the budget being decimated was ultimately said to blame for what ended up on the screen, there is also very little blood or gore from the man who is known to deliver just that in his horror features.
For whatever reason – blood, guts, gore or no, it all ended up being quite riveting, simply due to the fact that one had no idea what was going to come next – as with most pictures that Fulci would end up directing. At one point, the father was blinded only to regain his sight later, his little boy would get sucked through a shimmering gate, somehow reappear later in the film as if nothing had happened and act as a modern-day sage while those around him are losing their minds and the parapsychologist who was to treat the little girl would go from death’s door to not having a mark on him. It was all incredibly weird at times with just enough structure to keep it on track and Fulci would paint a good atmosphere about it all but it needed more, more of everything it seemed to truly be called a good picture. Thankfully, there were a few good performances to be found that it was never unbearable never mind unwatchable, yet one could see the seeds of what was intended if only Fulci had been able to deliver the film he wanted to make, something that was impossible due to its budget being slashed. Best of all would be the Egyptian setting and the mythology Fulci would try to weave within and made it far better than it perhaps would have been without.
Despite its reputation, Manhattan Baby is not all bad and to be honest, it is not all that good but there is something about it that will keep one glued to the screen, unable to turn away. It is, at the very least, a film any Fulci buff should give a watch at least once to see something a little different from the director.
2.5 out of 5