Rosemary's Baby: A city horror film
New York, 1968
I like films that are scary but I also prefer them not to have computer-generated monsters and completely outlandish plots. Finding horror in ordinary situations is somehow more frightening than seeing those outlandish creatures that you know have been created in Hollywood - I can never believe in them.
A young married couple
And what could be more normal than a young couple moving into their dream home? That's what Rosemary and Guy are doing when we first meet them. He is a young actor trying to make his way in a difficult profession but they are nevertheless able to achieve one of their dreams - by moving into an apartment in a New York building that they've always dreamed about living in - the magnificent but rather spooky Bramford Building.
A side note
Part of the movie was filmed in a genuine Victorian New York apartment building. In fact. even if you've never been to New York you might recognize it. Twelve years after the film was made images of the building were shown all over the world.
Its real name is the Dakota Building and it's where John Lennon was shot in 1980...
But back to the plot
Rosemary settles into her new home fixing it up as it had previously belonged to a very old lady sowas in poor decorative condition. Slowly they meet other residents, in particular a nosy and vocal old lady called Minnie and her husband Roman. Guy seems to be particularly fond of the elderly couple. His own parent are dead so, Rosemary speculates, they have become like surrogates to him.
Time to start a family
Shortly after moving in to their new home and meeting their neighbors, Guy gets some fabulous lucky breaks in his career. Feeling more financially secure, they decide to start a family. They plan a 'baby night' with a romantic candlelit dinner as a prelude to bedtime. (Well, conception might as well be memorable.) Guy, who had been given the task of bringing home has forgotten forgotten to do so but Minnie comes to the rescue, knocking on their door with two glasses of chocolate mousse. Shortly after the meal, Rosemary loses consciousness.
Dreaming that she was raped
In the morning she finds that she has been scratched on her back, shoulder and arms. Guy apologizes saying that he 'didn't want to miss baby night'. Upset that he had gone ahead whilst she was unconscious (presumably because of drinking too much wine) she reveals that she had dreamed about being raped by something inhuman...
But baby night has worked.
The pregnancy progresses
But not without difficulty. Minnie, Roman and their elderly friends are very solicitous about her - in fact, too much that you'd imagine. Why are they so concerned about her baby? Is it just that they have boring lives and Rosemary's pregnancy is simply a diversion for them?
See a video clip of Rosemary's Baby
See a video clip
Rosemary has a friend, Hutch, who is an English writer and has become a surrogate father to her.
In the scene below, he is cooking dinner for her and Guy in his apartment. They thank him for providing references so that they were accepted to move into the apartment building.
Hutch tells them a little about the building they are moving into. In his typically scholarly fashion, he has been doing a little research.
Rosemary's Baby was written by Ira Levin, as was this book.
In the same way, it takes an ordinary and relatively privileged scenario (this time a lovely little suburban town) and turns it into a horrific story.
Everything in this town is just TOO perfect, especially the married women. When a married woman and her family move there, she wonders if she too will be transformed into a paragon of wifely virtue.
Read my review
- The Stepford Wives: Classic novel review
'The Stepford Wives' - the book - is so much more than a creepy novel. It says a great deal about twentieth century men and what they expected from their women.Or does it?
Another creepy story from Ira Levin - this is probably his least-known work.
It features a pleasant young man who discovers that his girlfriend - a girl with a very rich father - is expecting his baby.
Again, we have an everyday scenario that leads to a horrific plot. There were two versions of this film - this is the earlier one of the two, made in 1956.
© 2013 Jackie Jackson