This Lucio Fulci production, released following the effective but shoddy HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY (1981) and the shocking and sadistic NEW YORK RIPPER (1982), is essentially the last Lovecraftian horror he directed, and is a strangely subdued movie for Fulci. Editing is even more lackadaisical than usual, and the story is a hodgepodge of plot points and setups lifted from POLTERGEIST, THE EXORCIST, THE BIRD, THE AWAKENING, THE SHINING, to name only a few. Christopher Connelly, Martha Taylor and other principal actors walk around in a daze. (The child actor who plays the possessed girl is quite good, however, and the dubbing is less annoying than usual) There is also a tendency to rely on matte painting and other optical special effects, which can be construed as a bad strategy depending on one's point of view. (Shots of some blue rays shone into a character's eyes, and so on; some viewers may find them laughable) Of course, this being a Fulci film, there are a few impressive set pieces, including an extremely atmospheric opening sequence set in Egypt, a cobra attack shot with a "crawlercam," and the final fate of the au pair girl, nicely suggested rather than explicitly shown. However, gorehounds are warned that there is ONLY ONE bona fide Fulci-style gore scene, involving attacks by stuffed birds, in the entire movie!
As for DVD production qualities, MANHATTAN BABY boasts transfer from one of the cleanest prints I have ever seen, comparable to the Mario Bava collections from Image, with hardly any scratches or artifacts. The cinematography, by Guglielmo Mancori, is given a tremendous boost as a result. Sound quality is not as top-notch, though; I wish the sound mix favor evocative music score (there is no listing of the composer anywhere on the film!) rather than insipid dialogue, which is little help for the movie anyway. The DVD also contains a 9-minute interview segment with the film's screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti, who is amusingly frank with the difficulties of production, Fulci's mysogyny, his among other topics, although he acknowledges only one film, THE EXORCIST, as BABY's "influence." All in all, another superior production from Anchor Bay.