Manhattan Baby (1982)
Main Menu Audio
Trailer-New York Ripper
|Year Of Production||1982|
|Running Time||85:15 (Case: 89)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Lucio Fulci|
Cinzia de Ponti
Carlo De Mejo
Enzo Marino Bellanich
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The Maestro of Gore, Lucio Fulci must have despised New York. First he had it overrun by zombies in Zombie (1979); created a sadistic maniac to cleanse the city of sleazy women in New York Ripper (1982); slaughtered beautiful young dancers at the Manhattan Centre for Living Arts in Murder Rock (1984); and in Manhattan Baby, he unleashed an ancient Egyptian curse on its citizens.
When American Egyptologist George Hacker (Christopher Connelly) violates an ancient tomb, a series of bizarre events take place: A guide is impaled when he falls onto a pit of spikes; Hacker is struck blind by blue laser beams emanating from a strange symbol; and his daughter Suzy (Brigitta Boccoli) receives a medallion, which resembles the symbol that blinded her father, from an eerie old woman suffering a severe cataract problem.
Heading back to Manhattan to recover, Hacker is mortified to learn that his daughter is slowly being possessed by the medallion’s evil force and she has the ability to ‘travel’ to Egypt via a portal which has inexplicably opened in his apartment. Furthermore, when the babysitter suddenly disappears and a number of people involved in the tomb’s discovery die horrible deaths, Hacker must cast aside his scientific rationality and find a mystical way to stop the evil from taking over the city.
Manhattan Baby bears striking similarities to Mike Newell’s big-budget Mummy curiosity The Awakening (1980), which itself was based on Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of the Seven Stars. Like Newell, Fulci explores themes of obsession, possession and revenge. But, to the chagrin of gore hounds, he held back much of his legendary jaw-dropping gruesomeness and focused his attention on attempting to develop the plot and characters. Unfortunately, the film falls short of the mark. The characters, as if being consumed by the convoluted narrative, react rather than act, while any suspense is swallowed up by the matter-of-fact manner in which Fulci films the presence of the evil force.
Regardless, the viewer is constantly reminded that they are indeed watching a Fulci film. There are the usual eccentric zoom-ins on eyes, faces, mouths and a generous amount of lurid camera angles. Fulci’s trademark bizarre imagery, such as the appearance of scorpions in a bedroom and the sudden disappearance of an elevator floor, which sends its occupant falling to his death are typical of his macabre black humour. For those willing to last the distance, the film’s most surreal and startling sequence occurs towards the end when a flock of stuffed birds come to life and gorily peck antiques dealer and medallion expert Adrian Marcato (Cosimo Cinieri) to death. His bloody body is left splayed out on the floor, while the mournful strains of a saxophone plays over the soundtrack.
Manhattan Baby is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is also 16x9 enhanced.
During the opening credits images appear jittery and there is a fair amount of grain and background noise. However, as the film progresses the print stabilizes and picture quality remains reasonably sharp, with only a mild softness and a few instances where grain becomes excessive (12:25 and 17:31 for example).
Shadow detail clarity is generally penetrating, but there are times within the dusty tomb (7:58) and inside the Optometrist’s practice (13:37) when the transfer becomes a little murky. Mild aliasing appears now and again, such as on the ornate stone temple windows (3:15) and when the camera pans detailed environments (27:23, 46:24).
Colours are quite vibrant, especially primary colours contrasted against the scorched, organic yellows and browns of the Egyptian landscape. However, red tends to bleed and appear oversaturated: the red in Suzi’s dress at the beginning of the film and the lamp (19:25) are striking examples.
The print is fairly clean, but a hair which crops up intermittently at the top left and top centre of the screen is annoying once noticed.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 dual mono mix is average. Fans of Fulci will initially feel a sense of déjà vu and then soon realise that he recycled most of the score and soundtrack from his The Beyond.
The melancholic blues/jazz score by Fabio Frizzi is startlingly offset by the sudden twangs of synthesised guitar, mournful violin and piano interludes. The score is further enhanced by dramatic Gregorian chants, incongruous crackling sounds of crawling scorpions and the screeching of cobras (!?), which endeavour to promote the supernatural, macabre proceedings.
For a Fulci film, the dubbing is passable. The American voices are well-matched to the Italian-speaking characters and lip movements almost appear in sync.
Being a two-channel mono mix the surrounds and subwoofer are silent.
|Surround Channel Use|
The synthesised strains of the theme tune over a static menu.
A series of five stills from the film plus a copy of the original poster artwork.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Our Region 4 edition appears to be the same uncut version released by Anchor Bay in Region 1.
In comparison to the Region 1 edition we miss out on:
• Interview with screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti
• Lucio Fulci and writer Dardano Sacchetti biographies/filmographies
• Liner notes by Michael Felsher from Anchor Bay
The film is also available on a two-disc set in Anchor Bay’s Lucio Fulci Collection Volume 2 with New York Ripper. However, our Region 4 edition of New York Ripper has better picture quality.
There is also a French Collector’s Edition released by Neo Publishing. It includes a documentary called Roma Termini and an illustrated booklet. Although the feature film has an English soundtrack option, the documentary is in French only.
Collectors will want both the Region 1 Anchor Bay and French editions for the bonus features, but if you’re after the best available English-friendly version then the Anchor Bay edition is the one of choice for its interview with screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti.
Manhattan Baby is a slow-paced film that tested the patience of Fulci’s core audience who wanted more gore, creepy atmosphere and less exposition. It is also the film that led to the acrimonious parting of Fulci and producer Fabrizio de Angelis (Zombie and The Beyond). De Angelis wasn’t happy with Fulci’s obsession with mystical narratives and insisted that the storyline be less ethereal and more grounded in a tried and tested Western ‘mummy’ horror motif. This tension no doubt compromised Fulci’s ability to create his rancidly distinct supernatural ambience and ultimately rendered the film a rather mediocre outing.
|DVD||Yamaha DVR-S200 (it came free with the plasma), using S-Video output|
|Display||Yamaha 106cm Plasma. Calibrated with Sound & Home Theater Tune Up. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built into amplifier. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Amplification||get a marshall stack, and crank it up.|
|Speakers||2 x Bose Speakers and 4 NX-S200 Yamaha mini-speakers.|