Tuesday, April 27, 2010

maiden manhattan.

Phew!

With half term and hard art out of the way it's back to normal around here.

Well, as normal as it gets.

Been a while since I viewed any Fulci so thought I'd ease myself back in with this classic of the possession genre.

Enjoy!

Manhattan Baby (AKA L' Occhio del male, Eye of the Evil Dead, Evil Eye, The Possessed. 1982).
Dir: Lucio Fulci.
Cast: Christopher Connelly, Laura Lenzi, Brigitta Boccoli, Carlo De Mejo, Giovanni Frezza and Cinzia de Ponti.

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"You can take my life with stuffed birds,
but you shall not take my immortal soul!"



Somewhere in the deserts of Egypt the dashing professor of old foreign stuff, George Hackett (son of Jennifer and star of Peyton Place, Connelly) is busy collecting deadly scorpion's to give to his daughter as a gift.

Is she that annoying?

His Egyptian helper Alan is a wee bit concerned by this, pointing out that in his culture the scorpion is a symbol of evil and the like.

Thinking this over George, deciding that the information is a bit scary for a nine year old, paints the poor thing yellow before sprinkling some glitter over it and telling her that it's a new kind of Pokemon instead.

Dads eh?, you gotta love them (but not in a sneaking into your room and taking photo's of you with an infra-red camera kinda way obviously).

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Now there's a mooth made for a shite-in.


And who is this lucky child?

Well, it's the precocious, tomb toothed blonde poppet Susie (former child star turned topless circus entertainer Boccoli), who's spending her time clothes shopping with her tussle haired mum Emily (freckled beauty and Uber-MiLF Lenzi).

Unfortunately mum has mistaken an old dilapidated building for one of those modern supermarkets and the only other person around is a blind eyed old hag who smells of vinegar.

A bit like Partick Market in Glasgow then.

Whilst Emily is off taking photo's of the locals holding slightly malnourished babies in an attempt to look caring (or at least give her something to chat about over lunch at the hotel), the old blind tramp approaches Susie before uttering the words “Tombs are for the dead” and handing her a huge gold amulet with a big (boss) eye in the middle of it.

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Eye hen.


Meanwhile Indiana Dad is busy excavating the lost tomb of King Habibabsomething but the locals have warned him, the tomb holds a terrible curse.

A curse.....OF DEATH!

Curious George doesn't care tho' and prepares to go down with (but not on I hasten to add) his assistant into the undisturbed resting place of a once glorious king.

Stumbling and fumbling around in the dark cavernous chamber Alan discovers a stone tablet placed in the far wall which, on further inspection fires deadly cobra's across the room like slinky green Arrows.

Luckily George is a professional sharp shooter and manages to kill the snakes (for real, I mean this is 1980's Italian cinema after all) before taking a well deserved rest and leaning against an innocuous leather marked 'do not press'.

Oops.

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"Touch my ring".


A gaping hole appears in the dirt covered stone floor and our unlucky pair suddenly find themselves plummeting into a stinky cobweb covered pit of death.

Luckily Alan's fall is broken by some rather large pointy spikes, enabling George to bounce of his companions ample arse and onto the relative safety of the crypt floor.

But our intrepid archaeologist barely has time to dust himself off before two supernaturally spooky blue laser beams fire out of the crypt wall and hit him square in the eyes (son).

And all this before breakfast.

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Pa pa papa pa pa pa.....X Men!


Back home in New York, George is told that the blindness caused by the mysterious rays should only last a year or so and in the meantime he should go about his daily business with two Kotex sanitary pads taped to his face and held in position by a pair of Su Pollard's glasses.

Tho' why he should need glasses when he can't see shit is never explained.

Life goes on as normal for George (well as normal as it can be seeing as he has to carefully totter around his house looking like a twat in glasses George A Romero would knock back for being too large), Emily is busy juggling her photojournalist career with typing up her hubbies notes whilst shapely child-minder Jamie Lee (the yumsome de Ponti from The New York Ripper) looks after the ungodly Susie and her little brother Tommy (the legendary Frezza).

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I did a Google search for Cinzia de Ponti,
this is the only pic that came up.
Frankly I don't even think it's her
but the scenery looks nice.

Everything seems to be going fine until one day when out in the park Susie gets a polaroid picture taken and, rather than a cute looking girl appearing on the photograph the amulet appears in her place.

Thinking it's a faulty film Jamie Lee chucks it away and takes the kids home for a quick game of hide and seek before tea.

With the kids running around and jumping into cupboards Jamie Lee takes time out to relax with the latest OK magazine (or whatever the Italian equivalent is) but just as she gets to the article on the love woes of Cheryl Cole the whole house is suddenly engulfed in shit scary noises.

Which is unusual to say the least.

But obviously not as unusual as the fact that there are snakes emerging from the fridge whilst a spooky light and fog starts to emanate from the pantry.

Who ya gonna call?

The concierge (unfortunately not played by Bobby Rhodes or Fred Williamson) obviously.

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"Yo never get yo hands on mah
lucky charms muthafucka etc".



No sooner has she hung up the intercom that the kids re-appear and everything returns to normal.

Bizarre and chilling too.

Pity then that she forgets to tell Jeff Security who, even as we speak (well even as I type and you read or something but you get the gist) is slowly waddling his portly arse into the lift.

Munching on a bagel and jabbing the buttons with his chubby sausage fingers, Jeff hasn't even time to swallow (unlike your mum) before the spooky noises start up and the floor gives way causing the poor sod to fall to his death.

He leaves no immediate family but does leave a cupboard full of crisps and cake.

Jeff, we'll miss you buddy.

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"Fuck me a scorpion!"
Giovanni Frezza

gives it his all.



Meanwhile back at the plot some unknown woman approaches Emily (the hot mum, remember?) and hands her the polaroid of the amulet from earlier in the movie.

Examining it closely she notices the name Adrian Marcato (not this one) written on it.

Being a girl and only knowing about shoes and make-up she gives it to her husband to examine but then remembers that he's blind (but not as blind as he was-it's getting better) so gives it to his pal professor Wiler to take a look at.

After much humming and harring the professor confirms that the symbol is the crest of the great god Habibabsomething.

coincidence or creepy craftiness?

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"Hello? Is it me you're lookin' for?"


Back at home things are going from bad to very bad, wee Susie keeps going missing all the time, doors are mysteriously locking themselves and Tommy spends all day trying to convince anyone who'll listen that there's a time/space portal that leads to Egypt in his toy cupboard.

Scratch very bad and make that very, very bad.

Being a caring mum Emily decides to ring an expert in such matters for help.

Ghostbusters?

The Pope?

Yvette Fielding?

Nope, she calls he children's entertainer cum magician friend Luke (City of The Living Dead star and professional sexy beard De Mejo) to pop over and try to look in the toy cupboard mystery.

Arriving in his best suit and top hat Luke entertains the little uns with a few card tricks before heading up to the bedroom, standing in front of the cupboard door and with a chant of "Izzy whizzy let's get busy!" opening it.

Only to be zapped by a huge blue fireball before disappearing.

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"Tonight Matthew I'm going to be Chris De Burgh!"


Hearing the commotion (and recognising the acrid stench of fried magician) Emily bounds upstairs and opens the bedroom door only to find that the room stinks of camel shit and is covered in sand.

This is the final straw for Poor old Jamie Lee who sits in the corner weeing herself as Tommy recounts another tale of his trips to Egypt whilst Susie and her mum desperately try to get the scorpions out of the sock drawer before dad gets home.

George, now with working eyes arrives back at the apartment with a plan.

Yup, it's time to go visit Adrian Marcato, professional antique dealer, collector of stuffed birds and part-time warlock.

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"Smell my finger!"


Luckily Marcato is well versed in the dark arts and recognises straight away that the amulet is actually the fabled the eye of evil and is using Susie as it's portal to our dimension.

Thinking on this for a minute and taking all the facts into consideration, George decides that it's all bollocks and that Susie is just jealous because her lips aren't as pretty as her brothers but Marcato is adamant (it's the white stripe across his nose and bouts of depression that give him away) that he's correct and offers, free of charge to come over and fix everything.

Including hopefully the lift floor.

Agreeing to this our intrepid trio head back to the Hackett apartment, the race is on to save not only poor Susie's soul (tho' looking at her dead eyes I'm pretty sure she never had one) but the family a huge amount in dry cleaning bills.

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"It's Cccccchhhhhrrrriiisssttmmmmaaasssss!"


Armed with only his wits and a sexy beard, Marcato begins his exorcism ceremony as the movie transforms into a blur of eyes and silence, broken only by close-ups of Tommy's pouting lips as he whispers "punish me!" to anyone who'll listen.

Scary as hell does not do this justice.

With a cry of "Birds of darkness! consume me!" Marcato suddenly rolls to the floor, sexily writhing and wriggling like your nan after a stroke and talking in Susie's voice whilst the missing (presumed bored) Jamie Lee (well her corpse) bursts out of the wall.

With Marcato inside Susie's body (but obviously not in that way, that would just be wrong) the curse is broken and Susie returns to normal leaving our psychic pal to re-enter his hairy frame and inform George that he must take the amulet and put it in the bin as only then will the family be safe.

And with that Marcato heads home for a small Sherry, a tearful wank and a well deserved Pot Noodle.

Phew.

Without further ado, George grabs the deadly piece of jewellery, legs it out of the house (being careful to use the stars) and throws it into a nearby reservoir leaving it to sink to the bottom.

Double phew.

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Watch out, watch out...John Leslie's about.


With everything back to normal George can get back to digging up dead foreigners and the lovely Emily takes a break from her photography to interview a new nanny (but not before removing the last one from between the cavity insulation mind) whilst the heroic Mercato takes a well deserved break, tidying and dusting his collection of stuffed birds.

Stuffed that is until they all come alive and murder him!

Meanwhile back in Egypt, the boss eyed woman is handing the amulet to another small girl....

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Unfortunately Susie doesn't sport
anything this sexy in the movie.



With riffs from movies as far afield as of The Exorcist, Poltergeist, Rosemary's Baby and the Charlton Heston snoozefest The Awakening, the question to ask is 'is Manhattan Baby a loving homage by a master film-maker or a blatant rip-off by a man long out of ideas?'

But lets be honest here, it's a Fulci film and we all love him to bits (except Cat in The Brain obviously) so at the end of the day who really cares?

But if there are any accusations of plagiarism, they can surely be blamed on the frankly bonkers script by regular collaborators Elisa Briganti and the legendary Dardano Sacchetti that takes in not only the movies mentioned above but also The Birds and The Omen for good measure.

When you put this in the hands of a director whose main concern is to make everything look nice rather than building a conventional narrative coherence you can see how some (less educated) viewers could mistake it for a rambling mess rather than for the terrifying vision of bodily possession that it really is.

Or even the "terrible movie" its director accused it of being.

Go on, you know you want to.

If you haven't already that is.







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