Release Date(s)1982 (October 25, 2016)
Studio(s)Fulvia Film (Blue Underground)
- Film/Program Grade: C
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: A
One of Lucio Fulci’s less extreme experiences, Manhattan Baby (also known as Possessed and Eye of the Evil Dead) was released in 1982 with an underwhelming response from critics. While on vacation in Egypt, a young girl is given an amulet by a mysterious blind woman. Once she and her family are back home in New York, her archaeologist father and concerned mother begin noticing her strange behavior, as well as odd occurrences around their home. Fearing the worst, they contact a local antique dealer with knowledge of the amulet to help them before something terrible happens.
Manhattan Baby was certainly a different type of film for Fulci in 1982. That same year, The New York Ripper was released and, only a year before, The House by the Cemetery. Comparatively, Manhattan Baby is somewhat lifeless, with a laboring pace that’s almost never punctuated by any typical Fulci touches, i.e. extreme gore and bizarre imagery. Like a lot of Italian productions overdubbed in English, it doesn’t help that the dialogue and quality of the performances are awful at times, particularly from the children. Yet despite this, the movie has some interesting moments. Many Fulci acolytes consider it to be one of his more important works. The opening and the final act are the movie’s main strengths, but everything in between is a bit of a bore.
Blue Underground’s Blu-ray presentation of Manhattan Baby is sourced from a recent 2K restoration of the original uncensored camera negative. It features strong grain levels that fluctuate slightly, but depth and fine detail are plentiful, especially in close-ups. The image can look a little soft at times, particularly during some of the outdoor scenes in Egypt near the beginning, but it’s sharp and precise elsewhere. The color palette doesn’t quite pop but is accurate, and skin tones look natural. Blacks are deep and brightness and contrast levels are satisfactory as well. It’s a fairly clean presentation with mild speckling, a thin white line running through the frame in at least one shot, and some mild flicker, though a little more information can be seen around the edges, including debris in the film gate along the top and bottom. For the audio selection, there are two tracks: English 5.1 and mono 2.0 DTS-HD. The original mono track is the way to go, but the 5.1 does offer some extra immersion. On both tracks, dialogue is clear and there’s no noticeable distortion or hiss. Sound effects and score reach about the same levels, but the 5.1 gives them a little more room to breathe, with some occasional low end activity. Otherwise, the 5.1 is front-heavy and offers little in terms of spacing and speaker-to-speaker movement. Optional subtitles are included in English SDH, French, and Spanish.
The extras selection includes Fulci & I, an interview with composer Fabio Frizzi; For the Birds, an interview with actor Cosimo Cinieri; 25 Years with Fulci, an interview with make-up effects artist Maurizio Trani; Beyond the Living Dead, an interview with co-writer Dardano Sacchetti; an interview with Stephen Thrower on Manhattan Baby; the “Manhattan Baby Suite”, a live studio performance by Fabio Frizzi; the original theatrical trailer; a poster and still gallery; a 20-page insert booklet with an essay on the film by author Troy Howarth; a DVD copy of the movie; and the Manhattan Baby original motion picture soundtrack on CD.
Although it relies more on atmosphere than carnage to tell its story, Fulci completists will probably get more out of Manhattan Baby than others. It won’t be remembered as one of the crown jewels in Fulci’s catalogue of work, but Blue Underground’s presentation of the movie is very strong and at least worth a watch.
- Tim Salmons