The Film (3.5/5)
When I was 15 and first discovered Fulci and Italian horror I went through a shocking sonic burst of getting as much of the director's output as I could in a very short period of time. This was the tail end of the VHS era, but it wasn't too hard and I saw most of his bigger films (the Zombi quartet) and quite a few of his minor ones (House of Clocks and Demonia for example). During this period I rushed out to see Manhattan Baby. It had a lesser reputation among the Fulci faithful, but knowing it came at the tail end of his greatest era, I had my doubts that it could be as bad as others had said. I came away from that viewing agreeing with the general consensus that the film was not good at all.
However, during the last decade or so some of Fulci's lesser films have seen a revival of sorts. Since I have started EuroCultAV.com, friends have come to me and told me they have begun to take a second look at Fulci's various films that had lesser reputations and began to find enjoyment in them. I have heard from various friends that Manhattan Baby was one that definitely needed a 2nd glance. I was definitely curious, as in the last few years I have found that Fulci's Murder Rock was definitely much more entertaining than I remember, and Cat in the Brain is one I constantly return to.
The film follows archaeologist George Hacker (Christopher Connolly) who gets blinded by a weird light while exploring a temple soon after his daughter Susie (Martha Taylor) is given an amulet in a nearby city square (These events are maybe related). The family soon returns to New York, but weird and supernatural things begin to occur around them.
One of the big things that draws me to Italian and Eurohorror is the total disregard for traditional narrative. There is a near pure cinema approach to these films I tend to enjoy, and yet there is something still with Manhattan Baby I find disconcerting. It seems that Fulci alongside screenwriters Dardano Sacchetti and Elisa Briganti wanted to lay down some sort of narrative through lines for the film, but didn't want to follow up on them. Also, things seemed to drag quite a bit in this one especially in the middle of the film. Fulci does bring some of his trademark atmospherics to the film. It is slim on the gore, but what's there is decent. It is fun at times, it just feels restrained and too in debt to other works to really work on it's own.
Blue Underground presents Manhattan Baby in a quite solid 2:35:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. Everything here looks quite decent for the most part, noise reduction is kept mainly in check, colors are stable, detail is solid, but the film is soft in places, and blacks are decent.
The audio is presented with a quite decent DTS-HD MA track in English with optional subtitles and also an HD mono track also English. Both tracks are quite solid with excellent clarity and no issues to complain about.
Manhattan Baby gets a stellar slate of extras from Blue Underground. It is a 3 disc set that includes an hour long interview with Fabio Frizzi the composer of the films score, and many of the scores from this era of Fulci's career. We also get interviews with Stephen Thrower, Dardano Sacchetti and many more participants relating to the fim. There is a studio performance of the score by Frizzi, a CD score, and liner notes by Splintered Visions author Troy Howarth.
I still won't put Manhattan Baby with the best of Fulci, but Blue Underground's set does go a long way to rectify the films reputation with the Fulci faithful. The Blu-ray looks and sounds quite nice, and is loaded up with extra features. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.