BUON COMPLEANNO, LUCIO FULCI! :-DMANHATTAN BABY (1982, 89 min.) on Amazon Prime for the first time.This party sucks. Can we watch a Mario Bava movie instead? ;-)Kidding aside, the reason a good Fulci movie works ("Zombie," "The Beyond," "Don't Torture a Duckling," etc.) is a constantly building sense of dread that culminates in batshit plot twists, memorable set-pieces, goey gore and an unforgettable final shot/scene. When Fulci keeps topping himself it's easier to tolerate the bad English dubs, repetitive music, nonsensical dialogue and lack of rules (or rules established early on that are later ignored) that most of his pictures have. This is what makes "Manhattan Baby" (or close-but-no-cigar potential winners like "City of the Living Dead") such a crushing disappointment. It comes from that golden period (late 70's/early 80's) when Lucio was in his prime. It even has freaking Bob from "House By the Cemetery" (Giovanni Frezza) calling his slightly older sister a "lousy lesbian!" :-O Seriously, how can a Fulci flick with Bob (playing Tommy) about evil Egyptian Gods brought to New York City via an amulet on the pocket of a cute little girl (Brigitta Boccoli's Susie) make me wish I was doing laundry instead?"Manhattan Baby" makes a bad first impression by being needlessly cruel to its non-Caucasian characters (BLACK-GUY-DIES-FIRST-SECOND-AND-MOST-SPLOITATION!), followed by interminable scenes in which "Poltergeist"-style supernatural shenanigans are insinuated but never properly set-up, explained or even paid off. One character that we're led to expect will die a worthy-of-Fulci death is discovered decomposing inside a wall because... the movie is ending? For a director known for his affinity for piercing eyeballs, Lucio spends most of his close-ups on the eyes of the actors as if they're important plot points. Nope, they're just big eyes! Not only is the climax goofy and stupid, but it's wasted on an unlikable secondary character we don't meet until well past the halfway mark. All the pieces are in place for "Manhattan Baby" to deliver the full Lucio experience. Despite a few neat ideas (snake cam!), it's ironic Fulci holds his punches here while going full sleaze ahead with "New York Ripper" (shot in the same city and released the same year). You can find better ways to celebrate the man's birthday than watching this underwhelming clunker. 'I have chosen... poorly.' :'(
LA PRETORA (feminine form of the word a "pretore", which is a type of judge in Italy)Lucio Fulci worked in most of the popular genres in Italian cinema, including la commedia sexy. Anyone who has issues with the sexual politics of 1980s American sex comedies would have a hard time with Italian sex comedies. The male characters in them, moreover, tend to take the objectification of women a step further. To the credit of the genre, the female protagonists frequently stand up for themselves and make the men pay for their misdeeds, but that does not mean they are presented respectfully. La Pretora stars the queen of the genre, Edwige Fenech. She has dual roles as Viola, a judge, and Rosa, a model, who are twin sisters. A dog food company owner who appears to be on the losing side of a case that Viola is presiding on finds out about Rosa and uses her to discredit her sister. This involves taking pornographic pictures with Rosa and passing them off as featuring Viola. The rest of the film is largely about Viola trying to salvage her reputation and her career. I am a big fan of Edwige Fenech and have watched many of her sex comedies. This is not one of the better ones. In spite of the general goofiness of the humor, there is nasty edge to it that rubs me the wrong way. There were moments, though, I did find funny. The courtroom scenes are good, and I did enjoy Fenech’s performance. I can at least cross off another Fenech film from my to-watch list.
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...form of the word "pretore"...I watched the Italian-language version of La Pretora that is on Youtube. There are no subtitles. I had to get out my Italian dictionary to read some plot descriptions.
Manhattan Baby (1982, dir. Lucio Fulci)Plot in brief: An American archaeologist accidentally unleases an evil curse from an Egyptian tomb, and his daughter unwittingly brings it home with her. Weird shit occurs.Even though it's my lease favorite of the (too few) Fulci movies I've seen, I still liked it a lot more than J.M. did. The Fulci style, although not in full force, is still there and he creates a mood that washed over me and made the story secondary. I just enjoy being inside his twisted mind.
The new York Ripper (1982)A man is talking and killing women New York. They are killed by an unknown man who… sounds like a duck!?! And old burned out detective, Fred Williams, is on the case. He gets help from a psychology professor, Paul Davis, who builds an psychological profile of the killer.The kills a very bloody and brutale, and the effects I really good. There is a really awful, in a good way, dream sequences, where one of the women hallucinates getting killed by her boyfriend. It really gives of unsettling vibe.Fulci most have some sort of fascination of ducks and eyes.There is a lot of sex, and nudity in the movie. So much I almost blushed.
A Lizard in a Woman's Skin (1971)Fulci couldn't just make a Giallo, he could only make something as strange and lushious as this. But what I really noticed was sometimes there would be these imaculate shots with some spilt diopter (at least I think anyway), then shots that were messy and looked hand held, with really cool use of harsh light from a light blub. I am not sure if there was a theme, especially with Carol's state of mind, or it was just on a whim of Fulci's mood. I liked the effect it had on the movie all the same.
I watched this for Junesploitation last year. That visual strangeness you discuss, Lindsay, was my favorite aspect of the film. It seems like Fulci adopted an avant-garde style at certain points. Overall, I enjoyed the counter-culture vibe of A Lizard in a Woman's Skin. And that soundtrack is nice, too, classic Italian sounds.
Nice, Lindsay! My favorite Morricone score. I have the vinyl and it sounds amazing.
I love that Morricone and Rimbaldi (those damn dogs) worked on this. But I need to watch it again - I was so focused on the camera work wasn't listening properly to the music. I know I'm the worst 😁😖
You're the best!
The Beyond (1981)I needed a good flick today, went for something I know and love. #favoritefulci
in a totally unrelated topic, amazonUK shipped my copy of Xtro limited edition today. i should get it in about a week.
I got the notice today too!
The New York Ripper (1982)Just your typical killer loose in NYC. Just kidding. It's Fulci. Crotch shot, blood, razor blades, crotch shot, blood, eye stuff, the end. Crazy stuff.
Zombie Flesh Eaters/Zombi 2 (1979)This is my first Fulci ever and I'd consider it to be one of the best movies I've seen so far this month. Its one of the best zombie movies ever I've seen.
This was the first Fulci film I ever watched. It's a good gateway into his filmography. Also, a zombie fights a shark. I mean, what else do you need?
I need, I need... memorable NYC location shots with iconic visuals and quotable dialogue to bookened the picture. When I think of Italian horror movies set in New York, the setting and images from "Zombie" are what immediately comes to mind. :-)
The New York Ripper (1982)Seems to be getting a lot of viewing today. It's one I'd maybe subconsciously put off watching because I had the inclination that it would maybe be a bit more mean-spirited than some of Fulci's other work. Today seemed like a good time to check it off the list though, and while I don't really see myself going back to it in the future I can appreciate a lot of things about it. I'm going to go take a long shower now.
Manhattan Baby (1982, dir. Lucio Fulci, First Time Viewing) Like J.M. I was disappointed by this. There isn't enough Fulci insanity. Like Mikko, I really appreciate the Fulci style in this movie and think it's excellently directed. Back when I first saw Fulci's Zombie in the VHS era, I thought he was a hack who un-wittingly created a weirdly entertaining movie. Now that I've seen many of his movies, I've realized what a truly great, and unique director he is. Still, I didn't appreciate seeing a beautiful King Cobra shot in the face and killed (for real).
Let us give thanks on this blessed Sunday.The Black Cat (1981, dir. Lucio Fulci)This one is mostly a typical slasher, only with a possessed cat as the killer, until it sort of becomes an adaptation of the Poe story at the end. If you think that sounds silly, well, it mostly is. The movie is a little dull and lacking in the insanity of the best of Fulci. I imagine it's tough making a horror film with a cat as the threat, instead of zombies or quacking new york serial killers. It's kind of ok. For me the highlight was David Warbeck, teaming with Fulci just before The Beyond.
Despite being a Patrick Mcgee fan, The Black Cat did not work for me. The cat is what I remember most about it. Knowing how cats are, it must have taken a lot of patience to get the cat to do what a scene required.
The Black Cat (1981)This might have been a mistake. Edgar Allan Poe was famously afraid of being buried alive, and wrote several stories in which characters meet that exact fate. Asphyxiation is also a pretty major fear of mine, and Lucio Fulci does me no favors in this Poe adaptation by showing several characters asphyxiate onscreen. I found it difficult to breathe during those sequences, which is testament to Fulci’s skill in making movies that exploit primal fears. This is actually the least graphic Fulci movie I’ve seen, but that didn’t make it get under my skin any less. It’s hardly a faithful adaptation of Poe’s story (in fact it’s barely an adaptation of Poe’s story at all), but it’s still very effective in the same way that Poe was at his best, it’s all very deeply unnerving. While it doesn’t reach the dizzying heights of crazy that The Beyond or Cat in the Brain reach, it’s still horrifying in a way that only Italian horror movies seem to manage. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go do some deep breathing exercises.
Zombi 2 (1979, dir. Fulci)I started on Fulci last month with the Gates of Hell trilogy, so I guess I’m going through all the heavy hitters first. I wasn’t totally sold on those movies, I liked the surreal stuff but the acting and dialogue was tough for me, but Zombi 2 being so different in that regard makes me want to continue checking out his stuff, and eventually revisit the Gates of Hell. I’m only halfway through the movie — I had to pause it to attend to Father’s Day stuff — but the zombie shark was amazing. Actually amazing. And I really like the characters in this one, so I’m excited to finish it. Doesn’t something happen with an eye?
Don't Torture a Duckling (1972)Extremwly lucky to live in a town with a screening house devoting the day to Fulcis birthday, and wow what an entry. Possibly due to the big screen, this was the most I've ever felt enthralled by a Fulci movie, and it doesn't hurt that Barbara Beauchet is on screen for a lot of it.Cinematic, with a salacious hook to bring you along, I give it high marks for it's wicked little twist at the end, too. Love that graveyard sequence in the middle, which would be just as effective in a modern movie. And I'd be more than happy living in Franscesco's hovel, qs long as it had that wave machine in Barbara's apartment.
This might be my favourite Fucli. I love the anger behind it. I was completely enthralled when I watched it last year, funnily enough for Junsploitation.
City of the Living Dead (1980)This was the first Fulci blu I bought - finally watched it.This might be the most fun movie in the Gates of Hell Trilogy. It might have something to do with Christopher (Human Cigarette) George and all the nuttiness that ensues. I was constantly exclaiming to the Cat about it.House by the Cemetery is still my favourite. But the lose Gates of Hell trilogy is brilliant. And I adore how Catriona MacColl holds them all together.
Gang, I tried, I really tried. Like I said a few weeks ago I think I'm just not on the Fulci vibe. Unlike some people who don't like Fulci, I don't think he's inept. I can see the obvious skill on display and the unique voice that runs through all of his movies. I just think maybe he doesn't do anything for me. I love seeing how much everybody else loves him though, and that's what this month and this website are all about. So please don't take my criticisms as anything but my own personal feelings.City of the Living Dead (1980)Some very impressive gore effects and an amusing performance by Christopher George made this bearable, but I found it narratively inert. I understand that dream logic is Fulci's thing but I think that may be what keeps me at a distance. Not mad I watched it but won't be visiting it again.Conquest (1983)I'll start with a positive: Claudio Simonetti's score for this is super dope, but that's not a surprise. I enjoyed this one more but that's because I love bugnuts Italian fantasy movies. It still suffers from the same problems I have with Fulci. There's so much happening in this movie yet it feels so turgid. It was a very long 90 minutes for me. Much like City of the Living Dead, not mad I watched it but won't be revisiting it.
I had the same reaction to City of the Living Dead. I ended up watching it twice to determine if was just a bad first impression, and the second viewing was even more of a slog. Cole was discussing below connecting to a film. It is hard to determine why you love something and can never seem to enjoy another. In my case, while City of the Living Dead did nothing for me, I found the equally nonsensical House by the Cemetery engaging. That I cannot explain. Maybe you should explore Fulci's earlier movies, Hibachijustice. I actually have a preference for them. They are far more rooted in the real world than his 1980s films.
Yeah you're definitely not alone on still trying to hit the Fulci vibes. I'm not going to shit on them just because I couldn't get attached, it just isn't something for me at this moment.
Yeah I'll try some more Fulci movies for scary movie month, but I need to leave him aside for a few months. If nothing else the more I watch the more I'm able to articulate what isn't doing it for me.
The New York Ripper (1982)A real 42nd Street Movie of a movie. Love Fulci putting his influences right in centerframe, too, like the theatre showing "American Werewolf" just after a subway tunnel chase. I know it gets most people talking about the duck voice, but I'm one for the reverbed saxophone. And how about that literal knife twist of ending! I'll definitely have this on a future slasher list for sure.
ZOMBIE (1978) This is Dario Argento’s re-edit of DAWN OF THE DEAD, reducing the slower character-based scenes and taking out most of the satiric humor, to emphasize the fighting and gore in the hopes of turning it into an action movie. It’s an interesting thought exercise, but George Romero structured and paced DAWN the way he did for a reason. The good news is that this opened the door for Fulci to do his unofficial/official sequel. ZOMBIE 2 (1979) Oh, so THIS is the movie with the oft-discussed “zombie vs. shark” scene. What no one mentions is that’s really a zombie vs. shark vs. naked scuba diver scene. You’d think more people would’ve pointed that out. Anyway, here we have Fulci firing on all cylinders, taking the Romero zombie tropes and setting them on a tropical island. It’s terrific old-school monster movie action, and I’m so glad I’ve finally seen it. ZOMBIE 3 (1988) Co-directed by Fulci and famed shlockster Bruno Mattei, this one is a step down in quality, but still a lot of fun. Zombies run loose on another tropical island, while the military and scientists try to contain the virus that created them. The best thing about this movie is how it zips along at a quick pace, always throwing something new at the audience so there’s a never a dull moment. ZOMBI 4: AFTER DEATH (1989) Fulci and Mattei are out, replaced by that guy who directed TROLL 2. A voodoo priest resurrects zombies on an island, where they battle mercenaries. This is some bona fide B-movie ridiculousness right here. It’s dollar-store production value combined with the hammiest possible overacting. Have you ever seen that DUDE BRO PARTY MASSACRE parody movie? This is just like that, except everybody’s playing it straight. ZOMBI 5: KILLING BIRDS (1989) College students get lost in the woods and spend the night in an abandoned house, where they run afoul of horror weirdness. More of a haunted house story than a zombie movie, it’s mostly the characters wandering around the house looking scared while the audience waits for something interesting to happen. Robert Stack shows up as the villain, with the most ludicrously bad monster movie makeup I’ve ever seen. Other than that, this one’s pretty boring.
Nightmare City (1980)Alright this is my second Fulci movie, first was Zombie 2, and my first in many years. I enjoyed this well enough. There was enough of a plot to keep me invested, something I have difficulty with in Italian horror. I'm going to keep trying to penetrate this genre though. Ending seemed straight out of a Twilight Zone episode. Going to try to get one more in tonight.
The Beyond (1981)Alright guys I'm having difficulty with this one. I know this is one of Patrick's favorites and Italian horror goes over big here, but I just didn't get this one. I didn't out and out hate it, I just never connected with it. I enjoyed the way the first portion was shot, but the film just seemed like a series of random images, like Fulci just threw a bunch of ideas at wall to see what would stick. I'm going to keep trying damnit! This genre will not defeat me.
The House by the Cemetery (1981)Thought about going with a deep cut today, but this is one of the Fulci movies I feel drawn to again and again (plus I just watched Aenigma and Touch of Death in the last few weeks). It might not be top 3 yet, but it's definitely top 5. I get that Bob annoys people, but I like how much of the movie Fulci shoots from his point of view and I love the dread of it all. So good.
The power of Bob compels you! :-)
Aenigma (1987) - first watchThe girls are laughing and giggling over how they ran over and almost killed their classmate. But when their rapey gym teacher dies, it's all tears. This movie can be best described as bland and colourless. The reviews I read all seemed to mention the slugs, but I found the slug thing to be, again, bland and colourless.
The Devil’s HoneyFirst of all, I’m not sure that’s how a saxophone works... Secondly, I’m not sure anyone in this movie knows how to kiss another human being without trying to eat their head. The furthest I’ve ever explored Fulci outside his overt horror stuff is ‘The New York Ripper’. I think I might be good. This movie was fun... I think. It’s kinda like a Skin-emax movie filtered through Fulci, but with an unusual amount more going on beneath the surface. Also, lots of bush. I’m almost certain the lead actress spends more time nude than the total time of literally every other nude scene I’ve previously seen combined. Is it necessary? Probably not, but it’s Fulci ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The New York Ripper (1982):Your face asplode!