My next review of the seven films I selected for Italian Horror week is the 1982 Lucio Fulci horror film Manhattan Baby (also known as L' Occhio del male, Eye of the Evil Dead, Evil Eye and The Possessed).
The film stars Christopher Connelly (1990: The Bronx Warriors, The Raiders of Atlantis and Django 2), Laura Lenzi (Manhattan Baby and The Adventures of Hercules 2), Brigitta Boccoli (a few television projects) and Giovanni Frezza, who a year prior to this film starred in Fulci's House by the Cemetery as Bob Boyle and Cosimo Cinieri (New York Ripper, New Gladiators and Murder Rock). Carlo De Mejo (City of the Living Dead, Teormea, House by the Cemetery and Women's Prison Massacre) has a small role in the film.
Review and Discussion Contain Plot Spoilers.
The film opens in Egypt with George and Emily Hacker (Christopher Connelly and Laura Lenzi) her archaeologist father and journalist mother, 10-year-old Susie Hacker (Brigitta Boccoli) is approached by a mysterious blind woman, who gives her an amulet with a blue-jeweled eye in the center. Soon after, George is struck blind by a bright piercing blue light when he enters a previously unexplored tomb. His assistant is not so lucky as he falls from a false floor bottom to his death; that is everything a Fulci death is about as the assistant lands on spikes in a booby-trapped chamber and they pierce various spots on his body including the eye!
Upon the family's arrival back to their home in New York. George is seen by an eye doctor where he is given prognosis that his loss of eye sight is only temporary and that it could take him up to a year to fully regain it. Susie begins to act strangely upon returning home and her brother Tommy (Giovanni Frezza) who was left behind during the family's excursion with a sitter, Jamie Lee (Cinzia De Ponti) has now become affected by the power of the amulet that Susie was given by the blind lady in Egypt. As days pass by Emily starts to notice that the children are disappearing and then reappearing every night in their rooms as both children have gained supernatural abilities to walk through dimensional doorways. It’s during this time that what was supposed to take a year to heal that George's sight returns in only a few days at a time.
Over the next days in the film the family experiences strange occurrences like a scorpion appearing in a desk and a snake that terrorizes Jamie Lee that attacks her while she plays hide and seek with the children in the cellar. Even the buildings superintendent bites the dust when he enters the elevator and a supernatural force causes the floor of the elevator to tear away and lets the man fall to his death in the elevator shaft. Even one of Emily's colleague Luke (Carlo De Mejo) finds his own fate as he plays with the children only to be swallowed by one of the dimensional doorways and is thrown into the desert of Egypt where he meets his demise from dehydration.
Jamie Lee takes the kids out to Central Park to play where she takes a photo of Susie as she roller skates but falls and when they look at the picture it doesn't develop quickly and they shrug it off as defective and instead of throwing it away in the trash they litter, throwing it on the ground. A woman picks up the discarded Polaroid photo taken of Susie. It shows nothing but the amulet against the grassy background. The woman contacts a man named Adrian Marcato (Laurence Welles) with her find. The next day, the woman drops the picture down to Mrs. Hacker from a window overlooking the pavement. Marcato's name and phone number are written on it.
During this the children's "voyages" as what Tommy has come to call them continue. Even Jamie Lee disappears from Tommy's room upon entering it and when he is questioned if he has seen her, his response is that she has yet to return from her own voyage. Later that evening one of George's colleague's is killed by a snake after he does his own investigation on the picture that was taken, upon his death the photo disappears from his office floor and then appears in Susie's hand in her bed.
George and Emily track down Marcato to his antique shop and demand to know what his involvement is. He tells them about the evil symbolism of the jewel, and suggest that Susie has become possessed by its energy. He also tells the skeptical couple to at least make sure she doesn't have the amulet in her possession. When George and Emily find the amulet in Susie's bedroom drawer guarded by a scorpion, she appears to them glowing blue and then faints. Marcato is called to the Hacker's apartment to examine Susie, but is possessed by her inner voice crying for help, and falls to the ground, bleeding and foaming from the mouth. Susie is then taken to a nearby hospital where the physician Dr. Foster (Lucio Fulci himself!!!!!) examines her and is baffled by her mysterious illness. An X-ray taken shows the dark shape of a hooded cobra mark in her chest.
Now Emily remains by her daughters bedside in the hospital in hopes she wakes up as Tommy remains at home. It is there that Jamie Lee reappears in the apartment as she bursts through the wall looking like a reanimated corpse before she falls to the floor and dies.
Marcato during all of this takes it upon himself to take the curse that was on Susie upon himself and tells George to take the amulet and throw it into the darkest and deepest part of the river. Marcato is later killed in his office by the reanimated bodies of the stuffed birds in his office. The films climax shows the death of Marcato, Susie waking up and being better in the hospital and George taking Marcato's advice to toss the amulet into the river thus ending the curse. BUT!!!!!!!
The scene jumps back to Egypt and to the old blind lady where she gives the amulet to another little girl to keep the curse alive and going!!!!! Proving evil lives on!!!!
Now this film is your normal Fulci film; not like some of the others that came before it as the blood and gore in this film is slightly tame. The score of the film was done by famed composer Fabio Frizzi whose other scores consist of City of the Living Dead, Zombie, The Beyond and his work was used in Kill Bill vol. 1. The film was shot in Cairo, Egypt and New York City, New York and the interiors were shot in Incir De Paolis Studios in Rome, Italy. The effect with the birds killing Marcato is cheaply done as you can see wires holding the birds but like most of the effects he's done in his films this is no different than them. This film is also considered to be the worst or if not one of the few films of his that are considered to be the bottom of his filmography that aren't entirely good.