Saturday, November 12, 2016

Season of Horror: Rosemary's Baby (1968)

It is said that horror films help us to purge our negative emotions, which leads me to revisit Rosemary's Baby tonight, because I recently found myself repeatedly saying some of the same words Rosemary says in the movie. It's also a really great film and always fun to watch.

Since it's Saturday night, when I like to remember my favorite horror host, Bob Wilkins, here's an interview he did with Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) that is completely unrelated to tonight's film, but who cares because it's awesome.

Who would have imagined that a simple La la la song could be so haunting. A few things I've noticed that I hadn't noticed from viewing in the past is that our camera man, William Fraker, from Outer Limits and Incubus (among many other great films) is Director of Photography on this movie. I was also surprised to note that it's produced by William Castle. I already was aware that Roman Polanski wrote and directed.

 "This is no dream. This is really happening!"

Two young, hip newlyweds are looking at an apartment, shown by the illustrious Elisha Cook, who is certain to lend an element of creepiness to any movie in which he appears. Guy is an actor who's appeared in plays and TV commercials, and Rosemary is planning on having children soon. They find out the former tenant was in a coma and died. She left behind a lot of herbs and a nice living room. They also note she mysteriously moved a large secretary in front of a closet door, blocking off access to her towels and vaccuum.

Guy and Rosemary are having dinner with their good buddy Hutch, who informs them belatedly that the place they're moving into had a checkered past, where the Victorian Trench sisters used to dine on little kiddies and party down with Adrian Marcato, who practiced witchcraft and successfully conjured the devil. In 1959, a dead infant was found in the basement wrapped in newspaper. We have to wonder how or why Hutch knows all this information.

It does not deter the young couple who are setting up house while realizing how thin the walls are as they are hearing their new neighbor Minnie next door asking Roman for some root beer. After popping the top off a can and peering into it, Ro suggests they make love. Guy turns off the light and they both undress themselves for an evening of passion on the cold, hard floor.

Rosemary is redecorating the house and transforming it from dismal to bright and airy. While down in the laundry room, she meets Terry, who tells her she's staying with the Castavets. Terry shows Rosemary a good luck charm with stinky herb she received from the Castavets, who she describes as the most wonderful people in the world.

Guy and Rosemary are hearing Minnie nagging her husband next door. As they start kissing on the bed, they begin hearing black mass style chanting coming from the other side of the wall. Later they arrive home to find a crowd and police surrounding a bloody Terry splattered on the ground. The colorful Castavets arrive on scene and are informed that she jumped out the window. As they are being questioned about whether she had family, Rosemary interjects that she had a brother in the navy, that they had met in the laundry and she told her so, while also saying nice things about the Castavets.

Ro and Guy are lying in bed while Rosemary closes her eyes and sees the image of bloody Terry and then hears Minnie's voice coming out of a nun holding a bible, who wonders how the person she is addressing is the leader of anything. The nun-Minnie continues berating someone for telling her in advance, that she wouldn't be open-minded, and about how they'll have to start over from scratch.

Minnie comes over to thank Rosemary for saying comforting things to the Castavets the previous night. She admires the renovation of the apartment, and when Ro describes where the nursery will go, Minnie asks if she's pregnant, which she replies that she is not yet but hopes to be when they're settled. Minnie goes on to ask how much her furniture costs and then pressures her and Roman to join them for supper, stating that it will be their first night alone.

Guy comes home despondent over Donald Baumgart getting a part in a play he wanted. Rosemary tells him Mrs. Castavet was at the apartment, being nosy and asking prices of things, and that she invited them for supper. Guy cautions that if they get friendly with an old couple like that they'll never get rid of them, but he agrees to go as his good deed for the day.

At the old couple's place, Minnie welcomes them at the door in colorful attire as Roman brings them generous servings of Vodka Blush cocktails. Minnie chokes on her cocktail as she reprimands Roman for spilling on the carpet. Roman begins telling the Woodhouses how he's been everywhere. They sit down for a tough steak dinner and Minnie notes that Rosemary looks uncomfortable when the conversation becomes critical of the Pope. Roman asks if she's religious, and she responds that she used to be Catholic but now she doesn't know.

The conversation turns towards Guy's career and how he should get the parts he's up for. Minnie and Rosemary are doing the dishes, discussing how fertile she is while the men collude and smoke up the living room. They exchange fond farewells and then laugh on the way home about the unsavory meal. Guy says Roman's stories are interesting and that he plans to return the next night to hear more. When she reminds him of a former engagement, he asks to get out of it. She asks why they took their pictures down, that she noticed bare spots on the wall where they once hung.

She prepares for a night of relaxation with a book on the couch when the door buzzes and Minnie is at the door with her friend, Laura Louise, who invite themselves in and begin knitting and doing needlepoint while chattering away. Minnie gives Rosemary a present that appears to be the same good luck charm Terry had. She informs her that it's 300 years old and filled with stinky tannis root for luck. While she tries to say she can't accept, they convince her to take it and wear it.

Guy comes home and she asks about his evening with Roman. She tells him that Minnie gave her a present, and when she goes to take it off because of the foul odor, he tells her that if she took it she ought to wear it, but she puts it in her vanity drawer nevertheless.

Later, he receives a telephone call informing him that Donald Baumgart went mysteriously blind and that Guy is being offered his part in the play. Rosemary is later talking to Hutch about how Guy is suddenly preoccupied with his work. When she arrives home, she finds multiple vases of long stemmed roses around the apartment, and an apologetic Guy, who suggests they should have a baby, and has circled dates on the calendar for them to start.

He starts the baby making evening off right with an LP on the stereo and fire in the fireplace. She's wearing a red pantsuit, fit for satanic ritual, and as they are enjoying a romantic, candlelit meal, the door buzzes. Guy goes to answer it, and Rosemary hears Minnie at the door, who has brought them chocolate mousse for dessert. Guy digs in, but after a few bites, Rosemary notes that it has a chalky undertaste and stops eating. Guy says it's delicious and that she should eat it. After he gives her a hard time about it, she gulps a few bites and when he's out of the room changing the record, she dumps the rest of it into the napkin on her lap.

While he watches the Pope on TV, she is cleaning up dinner and she becomes dizzy and staggers down the hall. Guy blames the booze and leads her to the bedroom, picking her up when she collapses and depositing her on the bed. She imagines she is floating in the bed on the ocean. He tells her she needs sleep and she says they need to make a baby. She imagines herself on a boat with other people, and that Roman is the captain. Guy undresses Rosemary and tells her to sleep. She continues to see herself on the boat, at first naked and then in bikini, while her wedding ring is removed.

She walks naked over to a sailor, who is the elevator operator in her apartment, who tells her to go down below. The room below has a mattress and flames in a grate. Roman, Minnie, Laura Louise and Guy, along with a bunch of old naked folks, are standing around Rosemary as she lies naked on the bed. Roman paints red designs on her body. Guy tells Minnie she's awake and can see, but she says that as long as she ate the chocolate "mouse" mousse that she can't see or hear anything, and that he should keep singing. As Guy approaches her, he becomes more beastly and we see huge claws scraping over her body. As she looks into the demon's eyes, she exclaims, "This is no dream. This is really happening!" Her face is covered with a cloth and she sees the Pope and asks if she'll be forgiven.

Guy wakes her to make his breakfast and she notes the scratches on her body. He says he already filed his nails down, that he didn't want to miss baby night, while she is astonished that he took advantage of her while she was out. She says she dreamed someone inhuman was violating her and tells him he could have waited. She's only beginning to realize what a horrible creep she married.

to be continued...

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