Friday, October 23, 2009

Bald Mountain Night 23: Rosemary's Baby

Each day in October, intrepid blogger Alex Boivin will watch a horror movie. These movies are all new to him and are part of his month-long effort to fill in his gaps in the horror canon. If he doesn't die from fright, you just might get to read about about his exploits in cinema during the Halloween season.

By popular demand: you wanted it, you got it- Satanic children semi-week concludes with Rosemary's Baby! Also, post #667- the Neighbor of the Beast.

Before I get this started, let me say that for the longest time whenever I looked at this movie's title, I couldn't get the following out of my head: "She's got to be Rosemary's Baby / she must be Rosemary's Baby / she's got to be Rosemary's Baby / cuz she's so fine"

As you are hopefully aware,the director of 1968's Rosemary's Baby has been on the news quite a bit over the past few weeks. Roman Polanski has been a fugitive from justice for a 30-year-old rape-rape case and was recently arrested in Switzerland. Now I could make a whole shpeel about how it's ironic that a rapist directed a movie about a woman being raped by the Devil, but I won't because it's more important that I notify you that before today, I'd only seen one Roman Polanski movie, the spectacular Chinatown. This one's his other big mainstream hit (yeah, just try and tell me with a straight face that you've seen Death and the Maiden) and has a plot that's pretty distant from his other films (well minus that whole "gross actual parentage" thing).

Mia Farrow plays Rosemary Woodhouse who with her actor husband Guy (John Cassavetes) has just moved into a swanky Manhattan apartment. Their Churchill-lookalike-contest-winner friend tells them of the spooky history of the building which includes black magic and cannibalism which they seem to shake off as a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. When they meet their eccentric neighbors the Castavets (Ruth "Maude" Gordon and Sidney Blackmer) they are happy to make some friends in the building. But soon, as Rosemary begins to have some weird dreams (including one that involves being, you guessed it, roofied and date-raped by the Devil) and becomes pregnant, new information comes to light, including that the Castavets may in fact be the head of a coven of witches and Guy may be in league with them. As if having a baby wasn't stressful enough! Am I right, ladies?

Horror films can generally be sorted by which of our anxieties and fears they exploit: Poltergeist preys on our worries about conformity in suburbia, Videodrome on our concerns about the power of a (then) powerful new form of communication, and Dead Snow on our collective phobia of Nazi zombies. Rosemary's Baby is a look inside the mind of a fearful expectant mother (though the fears are similar for dads-to-be as well, I would imagine) and addresses the concerns that something is "wrong" with our offspring. That and baby stealers.

This one is relatively low on scares but is certainly creepy enough. As Rosemary becomes more and more concerned and her supposed hysteria begins to dominate her life more and more, Polanski piles the dread on and we share her feelings that the entire world is involved in a conspiracy to sacrifice her baby to Satan.

I just can't wait until my future wife gets pregnant so I can show her this movie and watch her squirm. It's really a wonder that I'm single.

Final verdict: 79 Congos