Friday, August 14, 2009

Fun With Fulci: Manhattan Baby

After referencing this movie so many times, it only seems fitting that I actually get around to reviewing it. Why have I put this movie off? Well, lots of reasons. First off, there are far better films to discuss like Scanner Cop and Absolon. Second, I was starting to feel like I was picking on Mr. Fulci and I don't like picking on the dead (he died of Diabetes-related causes in 1996). Unless, of course, it is Joe D'amato and Bruno Mattei- they have it coming. Now that I have given the guy a respite, it is time to pick apart his work-for-hire crap. Let's start with a movie that is good in theory, but awful in execution. It is...
Manhattan Baby
The film begins in Egypt and it appears to be real footage of the country. In fairness, Dawn of the Mummy was filmed there too. We get an excavation mixed with a family vacation, because that is a good idea. "Hey kids, check out the curse of the Pharaohs!" One kid wanders off into a tomb and discovers a weird and very expensive necklace. If you want to know where most of the budget went, you are looking at it, sir! The dad goes off exploring as well (although, to be fair, it is his job) and stumbles upon a trap. A weird blue light (damn you, Sony technology!) shoots out and blinds him. Faster than you can say 'their travel visas expired,' the movie jumps to the titular location. Hello Manhattan, good-bye excitement.
The movie falls into a bad rut at this point. Usually I'm at least one more paragraph down before I have to say this. Manhattan Baby is just a special case, I guess. The dad gets all pissy about being blind and the girl who discovered the jewelry starts acting cryptically-weird. I will Fulci some credit for being understated here, but he also needs to, you know, make it interesting too! We get some weird moments talked about, but almost none of them shown. You want to hear a kid talk about being sent through a portal to Egypt? Sounds fun. You want to actually see it? Tough shit! You will get your boring description and you will like it! You do get one genuinely strange moment where the girl has her picture taken in Central Park. Yeah, they shot there for a day or two. When the picture comes out (this is in the Polaroid days still), she is invisible, but the necklace shows up. They write it off as nothing...because they are idiots, but a mysterious person notices.
In another curious moment, a woman randomly shouts down at the mother and warns her about her daughter. Naturally, she believes this woman and goes to investigate. Blah, blah, blah, nothing happens. One guy does get teleported away, but it is behind closed doors. Plus, it is never followed up on- hurray! Our heroes eventually talk to a curious collector of antiquities who explains that the necklace is the vessel for a mysterious spirit. They don't really believe him until he gets mauled to death by his stuffed falcons. If you want the lone Fulci moment in the film, skip to this one. Blah, blah, blah, nothing happens and then I fell asleep. The End.
I'm exaggerating a little for effect, but not by much. Only the most patient of moviegoers should dare to rent this movie. Fulci is weird (Cat in the Brain), perverse (Sodoma's Ghost) and nonsensical (The House by the Cemetery), but he is almost never boring. Congratulations on achieving a new landmark. I would shake your hand, but I doubt there is anything left of it at this point. Hey, don't get mad- you know Fulci would have laughed at that. This feels like a good idea that needed a bigger budget or, hell, any budget! Much like Day of the Dead, you can see what they were going for, but the point is still fairly-moot. The movie is underwhelming in almost every way, which is a shame when you see the lone good parts. A wasted opportunity, but one film that could almost use a pointless remake in America. They can't make it any worse...can they?
I pick on the dead one more time as another 'classic' of Lucio's gets a once-over. Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. This is one of many Fulci films I still havent seen, but I really have no intention to. I would rather pick up House of Clocks first. Cant comment on the film but I got my laughs in for the day, so take that movie!