The Curator of Schlock #258 by Jeff Shuster
There’s no baby in this motion picture.
We haven’t covered a Lucio Fulci movie in awhile. This is a crying shame that will now be rectified. Italy’s Maestro of Madness deserves an entire wing in The Museum of Schlock. Today’s exhibit is 1982’s Manhattan Baby. It’s a bit different. Not the usual Fulci fare. For instance, this movie is about an ancient Egyptian curse and we’ve never had Lucio Fulci featuring ancient Egyptian curses. I’m reasonably confident about that fact.
The movie begins in Egypt with an exhibition led by George Hacker (Christopher Connelly of Peyton Place fame). Along for the ride are his wife, Emily (Martha Taylor), who is a professional journalist, and their ten year-old daughter, Susie (Brigitta Boccoli), who is not a professional journalist. George decides to explore some tomb that the locals say is cursed. What else is new? Listen, George is an American living in Manhattan. This means he has a posh Manhattan apartment. The family also has an au pair named Jamie (Cinzia de Ponti) to look after the kids. What the heck is an au pair? Oh, it’s a nanny from another country. I think. Kind of like a student exchange program, but for nannies. Anyway, au pairs must be expensive, as are Manhattan apartments. Emily’s reporter salary won’t make a dent in that. George has no choice but to plunder the tomb. I’m assuming that’s his motivation and that archaeological discovery has nothing to do with it.
One of the local Egyptians decides to follow George in. This Egyptian isn’t afraid of any curse. It’s not long before George and said Egyptian fall through a trap door. The Egyptian gets impaled on some spikes, but George escapes unscathed until some statue of Isis shoots laser beams out of her eyes, blinding poor George. I think it was a statue of Isis. I’d have to watch Manhattan Baby again to double check, though, and that ain’t gonna happen.
Meanwhile, little Susie is given an antique pendant by a strange blind woman who declares that “Tombs are for the dead.” The family heads back to New York City where Susie is reunited with her younger brother Tommy (Giovanni Frezza of The House by the Cemetery infamy). George’s doctor says his eyesight should return in about a year, which ticks him off to no end. Emily returns to work, and we’re introduced to one of her reporter friends, a guy named Luke (Carlo De Mejo), who is a bit of a practical joker. He wears funny glasses like the kind with slinky eyes. Luke is also a big fan of the snakes in a can trick. Naturally, we hate Luke and want him to die.
Strange things start happening in their Manhattan apartment building. The building security guard gets trapped in an elevator. The floor of the elevator falls underneath him. Luke gets killed when he investigates Emily’s apartment, so good riddance, but it’s kind of lame. He just disappears and rematerializes in a desert where he dies of thirst.
Where’s the gore? This is a Lucio Fulci movie. I want to see eyes getting gouged out and people throwing up their own intestines. We do see one guy get his face pecked to death by some stuffed birds. I don’t know. Not Fulci’s best. Fans of Fabio Frizzi’s score for The Beyond should be happy that he’s returned to score Manhattan Baby…by using the exact same score for The Beyond.
Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47, episode 102, episode 124, episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.
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