Sometimes, I find it possible to admire mediocre filmmakers, and at other times; I find it rather difficult to accept them for the nigh-decent people that they are; or at least that can be said when discussing how good they are at their job. Lucio Fulci, the Godfather of Gore, has disappointed me more than once; however, "Manhattan Baby" feels like some sort of test, and it's not a very entertaining or endurable one. In fact, I'll just go right ahead and call it unbearable, because that is what it is. Fulci didn't seem to understand that he IS the Godfather of Gore, but nothing more. He thought he was a surrealist; something that we all know he is not. He's never made a genuinely scary movie. I imagine some of his movies work as midnight-movies. "Manhattan Baby" works as nothing more than a tedious exercise in mistake-making for its genre.
I mean what a waste of time and potential. If there is one thing in the movie that could be seen as a redeeming quality, it's the cinematography. But if I want a movie built around imagery that isn't stunning and admirable, but not-too-memorable cinematography that isn't worth writing home about, I'll watch something that I can actually, well, watch; and without having to fight to stay awake.
An Egyptologist and his family return home from a trip to Egypt with a souvenir in the form of an ancient artifact. They figure that it would just be cool to have; and the daughter keeps it close by. However, when the family returns to Manhattan, the little girl notices that strange things are occurring. People are dying via broken elevators, cobras are randomly attacking people who happen to be busy investigating photos, and better yet, photographs are revealing strange images.
There's not much logical explanation for all this aside from "the artifact was cursed!" But how else could we explain it? I guess that's one thing - and only one thing - that Lucio Fulci understands; that there is often only a single explanation to many things. Even if that one thing is a very stupid and absurd explanation.
This film sucks. It is bad, bad, bad. I don't even want to call it a movie, because it disrespects my intelligence and my will to view cinema as I do. Maybe I should just give up on Fulci (yeah right!) right now and spare myself more boring movie-watching sessions. Or I could keep going, keep whining, and keep preventing you from making the grave mistakes I made when I watched these "films". Hopefully this is the worst Fulci can do. But oh...I have my doubts.
The film has a decent visual look, and I liked what Fulci was TRYING to do - but couldn't pull off -when he staged the "dream-like sequences". The children of the film fall victim and captive to the curse of the artifact, and claim to go on "trips", or adventures, if you will. Fulci obviously tried hard to make these scenes work, but in the end...they just don't. I suppose the problem is the many distractions caused by the insanely lame dialogue, the convoluted and borderline-mental plot, and lastly, the horrid acting. Of course, I'm not going to criticize Fulci as a director when criticizing "Manhattan Baby"; he unleashes some decent creativity in the gory-kill-sequences. Those are typically well-staged. But nothing can save a movie from a lousy, boring narrative. "Manhattan Baby" is just plain bad.