It has been many a year since I last watched this classic. I have actually stumbled across a few reviews recently on bogosphere so when I saw it at the video store I brought it home and watched it immediately after Romper Stomper. Try as I might I can't remember how long ago I saw this, but I do recall it being on telly late at night.
After last night I'm surprised at how much I had forgotten with certain scenes a bit hazy to say the least. I did enjoy it the first time I watched it but this time round it just pissed me off! It is a great movie to be sure so it isn't a quality issue. It was more Mia Farrow's character and her weaknes and naivety that drove me nuts.
I realise this is part of her role as a stronger character would not have let things go as far as Farrow did. I had forgotten what a pain the elderly neighbours were and they quickly got on my nerves with their constant intrusions. Personally I would have said 'fuck off' long before!! The old bag with her screechy voice and nosiness quickly grated and I found myself cursing everytime she appeared. But I cursed Farrow more for letting herself be pushed about so easily.
Farrow plays her part as a blonde bimbo extremely well, and I was surprised at the amount of nudity this had for a 1968 movie. We get to see Farrows butt and boobs on several occasions which I couldn't remember before hand. It is actually quite interesting to note that besides Farrow most of the cast has subsequently died. Sure many of them were elderly anyway, but Farrow's husband wasn't and he died in his fifties. God's retribution on them for starring in a satanic movie??!!
So how satanic is Rosemary's Baby? I haven't read the book so can't judge that, but the movie I can. From the eyes of today it is quite tame. It isn't Paranormal Activity, but in its day that would have been its equivilent. I really like the fact that it didn't need to delve into gore and straight out frights to project creepiness and a feeling of evil. Modern film makers should take note here and see what real atmosphere is about. Rosemary's Baby has dated but it is still a creepy movie just for the fact that we see so little and yet know there is a lurking evil within the building.
The satanism is very subtle. Again I like this. When Farrow is tied up ready for the devil to have his wicked way with her we see her dreaming ( or is she? ), the visions include goatsheads, fire, brimestone, and the likes. All very subtle but leaving the viewer in no doubt this isn't a christian ritual we are about to see! Of course we see the devil's hands on Farrow and a shot of his eyes, but the obliqueness is superb because again, the viewer is lead into Farrow's mind as she herself wonders if it is a dream or not.
It is hard to judge now how explict this was in 1968 terms. By our standards it is very dated as we have been bombarded with Jason Vorhees, Freddy Kruger, and co for years, so a few 1960's shots of the devil aren't going to scare us are they? But if you put that aside it is the impliedness of the devil that makes Rosemary's Baby so good. We know she has been 'given' to satan by her husband, the creepiness is in seeing her come to the realisation.
I suppose the crowning moment of the whole movie is when she sees the baby and cries 'what have you done to his eyes?', and gets the horrific reply, 'he has his father's eyes' and the witches start hailing satan. Farrow's character must have been in unimaginable repugnance at knowing what had been done to her.
But I come back to the point of this movie pissing me off. We see Farrow enter the neigbours apartment through the closet with a knife. She drops it when she sees the baby though. I mean if that were me I would have immediately stabbed that little bastard spawn of satan!! And yet all Farrow does is cry and...well...cry some more. I just couldn't bring myself to sympathise with her becasue she was too weak willed to stand up to those around her. The neighbours in particular were having an affect on her and she just let them, me..they would've been out on their ears with no airs or graces about it!!
But again that was her character and hence she was an easy target for the witches with her gentle personality. She didn't stand a chance with a weak willed husband who was unable to resist the promise of fame and fortune at the expense of his wife. How he expected her to stay with him after she found out is anyone's guess and he deserved the lot of spit in his face. He is reprehensible and the viewer feels nothing but disgust for him.
Rosemary's Baby is a very good horror and the precursor to the stronger 1970's masterpiece of all horrors, The Excorsist. It isn't blatant it it's satanic portrayel and is superb for it. Everything is behind closed doors and subtle in its implications. This creates a diabolical creepy crawly air of evilness that many modern horrors fail to emulate. It shows that not all horror has to be in your face to be effective. Not only is this a good horror it is a good enough stand alone movie without being put into a specific genre.
A real classic of its time and still a good watch today. I enjoyed it even though Rosemary and those pesky neighbours drove me to despair. But ultimately grrrrrrrr ! Why the hell didn't you kill the baby when you had the chance Rosemary???!!!!........ because I sure would have.
I also strongly urge a visit also to wikipedia as thier page goes into how the cast was selected and has links to the Ira Levin novel ( who of course also wrote a personal favorite of mine, The Boys From Brazil ).