Saturday, October 22, 2011

"Rosemary's Baby" 1968

“Rosemary’s Baby”

This is the beginning of my reviews of horror movies for Halloween. This is a movie that should never be watched while you are pregnant. When I was pregnant with my son I watched this movie and it scared the crap out of me. I had seen it in the past, but there are hormones in play that make the ridiculous seem possible. I remember being extremely pregnant and seeing a tabloid that had the cover story “Woman Pregnant For 12 Years!” I fell apart just knowing that this would be my fate.

“Rosemary’s Baby” feeds on all the paranoia that comes with pregnancy.

It starts with Mia Farrow as Rosemary Woodhouse and her husband Guy played by John Cassevete’s looking for an apartment. They are the perfect late sixties couple. Rosemary is a housewife. Guy is an actor who gets work but hasn’t broken through yet.
Mr. Nicklas: Are you a doctor?
Rosemary Woodhouse: He is an actor.
Mr. Nicklas: Oh! An actor! We're very popular with actors! Have I seen you in anything?
Guy Woodhouse: Well, I did "Hamlet" a while back, didn't I, Liz? Then we did "The Sandpiper"...
Rosemary Woodhouse: He's joking. He was in "Luther" and "Nobody Loves an Albatross" and a lot of TV plays and commercials.
Mr. Nicklas: That's where the money is, right? The commercials.
Guy Woodhouse: And the artistic thrill too!

They find the perfect apartment in a historic old building. Not long after they move in Rosemary meets a young woman in the laundry room. She is a former drug addict that has been taken in by an older couple. A quick conversation and then suddenly the young woman is dead.
Guy and Rosemary are soon befriended by the same old couple who happen to live next door, Minnie and Roman, played delightfully be Ruth Gordon and Sydney Blackmer. They are nosy and imposing and seem harmless enough. There is an uncomfortable dinner that leaves Rosemary feeling a little cold.
Roman Castevet: I think we're offending Rosemary...
Rosemary Woodhouse: I wasn't offended, really I wasn't.
Roman Castevet: You're not religious, my dear, are you?
Rosemary Woodhouse: I was brought up a Catholic... now, I don't know.

But Guy is fascinated with the couple and goes to see them alone. Things start getting weird. Suddenly an actor that beat Guy out for a great job is struck blind and Guy gets the role. In his enthusiasm he announces that they should try for a baby. He has even picked out Rosemary’s fertile days.

She gets caught up in the excitement and plans a big night. Minnie brings some dessert.
Rosemary Woodhouse: It has an under-taste.
Rosemary Woodhouse: A chalky under-taste.

Then things get funky.

Rosemary passes out and has strange dreams. She is on a yacht with the Kennedys and then she is in bed with something inhuman. She wakes to Guy letting her know that “baby night” went on despite her absence.

Rosemary Woodhouse: You... you had me while I was out?
Guy Woodhouse: It was kinda fun in a necrophile sort of way

This doesn’t sit well with her.
Rosemary Woodhouse: I dreamed someone was raping me. I think it was someone inhuman.
Guy Woodhouse: Thanks a lot.

But soon Rosemary discovers she is pregnant. Even though it is early Guy can’t wait to tell the neighbors. Minnie and Roman insist on referring her to their friend who is a famous obstetrician rather than the hot young doctor she is going to.

Guy Woodhouse: [on Rosemary's decision to switch doctors] You know what Dr. Hill is? He's a Charlie Nobody, that's who he is!
Rosemary Woodhouse: I'm tired of hearing about how great Dr. Sapirstein is!
Guy Woodhouse: Well, I won't let you do it Ro.
Rosemary Woodhouse: Why not?
Guy Woodhouse: Well, because... because it wouldn't be fair to Sapirstein.
Rosemary Woodhouse: Not fair to Sap... - what do you mean? What about what's fair to me?
Rosemary starts having a pain. Every time she asks about it, she is told that it is normal and will go away in a few days. But instead it gets worse.

Her friend visits and expresses his concern.

Edward "Hutch" Hutchins: Pregnant women are supposed to gain, not lose weight!

Next thing you know, Hutch is in a coma and not expected to get any better.

Her fears are written off as pregnancy vapors. Finally the pain stops and she feels the baby move. We have a montage of happiness with Rosemary getting bigger and decorating a sunny yellow nursery.

She is close to term when it gets weird again. Hutch dies and she gets a book he was holding for her. Rosemary starts to suspect that her neighbors have nefarious intentions about her newborn. She finds out that Roman had an unusual childhood as the son of Satan worshipers.

Rosemary Woodhouse: They use blood in their rituals, and the blood with the most power is baby's blood!

She expresses her fears to her doctor. Suddenly Minnie and Roman are off on a trip and Rosemary thinks she can relax.
But the heat is oppressive. As it gets closer her fears multiply and she realizes that Guy made some sort of deal with the devil. She wanders the city and finally goes to see her original doctor. After spilling her outrageous tale, he lets her rest. She thinks she is finally safe, but he calls Guy and Dr. Saperstein.

Dr. Abe Sapirstein: Come with us quietly, Rosemary. Don't argue or make a scene. Because if you say anything more about witches or witchcraft, we're gonna be forced to take you to a mental hospital. You don't want that, do you?

She is taken back to the apartment and is found to be in labor. She is given a shot to calm her down and wakes up to be told her baby has died.
Rosemary Woodhouse: You're lying. It didn't die. You took it. You're lying. You witches! You're lying! You're lying! You're lying! You're LYING!

Her paranoia escalates and the people around her don’t help matters. And she can hear a baby crying in the apartment next door.

After drugging her keeper, she finds the secret doorway to the neighbors apartment and slips in with a butcher knife. There is a party going on and a bassinet in the corner draped in black fabric. She makes it to the cradle and her newborn isn’t like any baby she’s ever seen.
Rosemary Woodhouse: What have you done to him? What have you done to his eyes, you maniacs!
Roman Castevet: He has his father's eyes.
Rosemary Woodhouse: What do you mean? Guy's eyes are normal!

Soon she discovers that Guy isn’t the father and all her suspicions were true but not the complete truth. She is the mother of Satan’s only son. Despite her fears her maternal instinct kicks in when she sees an old woman rocking the cradle too fast.

Roman Castevet: Rock him.
Rosemary Woodhouse: You're trying to get me to be his mother.
Roman Castevet: Aren't you his mother?
[She starts to hum a lullaby]

What mother hasn’t been paranoid during pregnancy? Imagined a horrific delivery where no one listens to her? Lives in fear that her child is the spawn of Satan?

Again, don’t watch this movie pregnant. Nightmares will ensue.

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