MANHATTAN BABY (1982) Reviews and overview [updated]

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‘A soul engulfed by evil!’
Manhattan Baby is a 1982 Italian supernatural horror film directed by Lucio Fulci from a screenplay written by Elisa Briganti and Dardano Sacchetti. The original Italian title is L’occhio del male [“The Evil Eye”]It was retitled Possessed in the UK and Eye of the Evil Dead in the USA. The soundtrack score was composed by Fabio Frizzi.

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On holiday in Egypt with George and Emily Hacker (Christopher Connelly and Martha Taylor), her archaeologist father and journalist mother, ten-year-old Susie Hacker (Brigitta Boccoli) is approached by a mysterious blind woman who gives her an amulet. Soon after, George is struck blind when he enters a previously unexplored tomb.

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Upon their return to New York, George is informed that the loss of his eyesight will only be temporary. Susie begins to act strangely, and her younger brother Tommy (Giovanni Frezza), who stayed behind in New York with the family’s au pair Jamie Lee (Cinzia de Ponti), is also affected by the mysterious amulet. Both Susie and Tommy have gained supernatural access to dimensional doorways…

“Fulci is hampered here with a rotten screenplay which cribs interesting elements from other films but fails to resolve them.” Variety

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“There is an exceptional amount of camera shots centered on the eyes; sometimes starting zoomed in on them, sometimes, for dramatic effect, starting backed away and then zoomed in. The latter if these two is always accompanied with the same synthesizer effect. There are some fantastic 80s gore shots that really make the film worth watching, my favorite being the one I mentioned above with the vultures eating Fulci’s face.” Horror News

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“There is only one major gore sequence in Manhattan Baby, and it doesn’t come until the climax. And even that sequence (wherein a main character is attacked by re-animated stuffed birds) pales in comparison to the carnage in the director’s early work. Making matters even worse is the fact that you can see the strings on the birds in many of the shots.” IGN

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“… Manhattan Baby survives as film that Fulci fans may find themselves revisiting long after their taste for gore has been sated.” Stephen Thrower, Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci

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” … absolves itself from having to make sense: the rough circularity of the story, the insistence on mosaic images rather than smooth plotting, and the impossibility of attributing noble or heroic motives to the character of Marcato, finally serve to remind us that the supernatural is also irrational.” Kim Newman, Monthly Film Bulletin

“Director Lucio Fulci has made some slow-moving movies before, but they almost always pay off with some kind of batshit insane gore set piece that make all the boring stuff worth sitting through.  While we do get one neat scene where a guide falls face first on a bed of spikes; the gory goodness usually found in Fulci’s best work is totally absent here […]  All of this would have been well and good if the movie just occasionally made a lick of sense. Too bad it doesn’t.” The Video Vacuum

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On October 25, 2016, the film was reissued by Blue Underground on a 2K Blu-ray disc mastered from the original negative, with a DVD version and CD soundtrack. Special features include:
Fulci & I – Career-spanning interview with composer Fabio Frizzi
For the Birds – Interview with star Cosimo Cinieri
25 Years with Fulci – Interview with make-up effects artist Maurizio Trani
Beyond the Living Dead – Interview with co-writer Dardano Sacchetti
Stephen Thrower on Manhattan Baby – Interview with the author of Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci
“Manhattan Baby Suite” – Live studio performance by Fabio Frizzi
Theatrical trailer
Poster and still gallery
Collectable booklet featuring new writing by author Troy Howarth

Review of the Blu-ray:

“Blue Underground present all-new David Gregory-produced extras (including an almost 60-minute documentary on Frizzi) with minimal features ported over from the previous DVD release and a new booklet penned by author Troy Howarth. Best of all, they have included a CD of all the key cues and themes from the film … The 1080p digital transfer looks great, with colors that pop, but there’s some blobs and shadows in the peripherals of the frame from time to time. Still, none of this detracts from the lovely widescreen imagery and general somber mood.” Coming Soon

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