Taking inspiration and influence-with more than a marginal heist-from such occult, supernatural fare as The Exorcist, The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby, Lucio Fulci’s Manhattan Baby is nonetheless a very enjoyable, late-middle period entry from the Italian godfather of gore, Lucio Fulci.
Released in between Fulci’s gore-soaked efforts Conquest and The New York Ripper, this film from the maestro’s actually holds back here a bit in the blood department, relying more on slow burn suspense and set piece creepiness to darken this mood of spiritual possession and otherworldly forces, plotting to take control of an archeologist and his New York family. Although Manhattan Baby possesses its fare share of inventive special effects, the lion’s share of gore and violence is reserved only when the situation calls for it, and to be honest…it works.
Sure, Manhattan Baby is nowhere near as over the top or gratuitous as Fulci classics Zombi or Gates of Hell, but when the blood does flow here, it’s memorable and jarring, serving the film quite well, and making all of the dramatic sequences that much more tolerable, overall. Fulci’s impeccable talent for mood lighting is also set on display excellently here, setting up all of the possession and ghost scenes with a kitschy/scary feeling a la Poltergeist…albeit with a much larger mean streak; one which cuts (literally) to the bone.
So while Manhattan Baby may not exactly be mentioned in the same breath as Fulci’s classic films…it a’int no Door Into Silence, either, and definitely worth a view or two for Fulci fanatics the world over.