Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

I Dreamed Someone Was Raping Me.

I decided that there are too many classic horror movies that I either have not yet reviewed or perhaps not even seen. To rectify that, I decided that the October Horrorthon would consist of three reviews, and the third one in the week will be a classic horror film. Today’s horror film is one I’m sure almost everyone has heard about before. I remember having seen this movie at some point in my life, but I can’t really remember anything about it that I didn’t know before I saw the movie. I don’t remember if I liked it or not either, but I do know that it’s a classic horror film. In fact, it was ranked ninth on the AFI’s Top 100 Thrills list. That has to count for something, right? OR DOES IT?! It didn’t mean anything when I watched Citizen Kane, did it? Well, let’s see if I agree this time as I review Rosemary’s Baby, based on a book by Ira Levin, written for the screen and directed by Roman Polanski, and starring Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Sidney Blackmer, Ruth Gordon, Maurice Evans, Ralph Bellamy, and Charles Grodin.

Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and Guy (John Cassavetes) Woodhouse are a married couple that movie into a New York City apartment after the death of the previous tenant. Soon after that, they meet their incredibly annoying neighbors, Minnie (Ruth Gordon) and Roman (Sidney Blackmer) Castevet, who start taking a great interest in the lives of the Woodhouse’s, especially in regards to their attempts to have a baby. They eventually succeed in getting pregnant after eating a chocolate mousse that Minnie made for them that knocks Rosemary out and allows Guy to rape her while she’s unconscious, but Rosemary is cool with it because it knocked her up. She’s cool with it even though she had a dream of a bunch of people including Minnie, Roman, and Guy watching as she got raped by the devil. This is all regular stuff that happens when you get preggers. The Castevets talk Rosemary out of going to her regular doctor, Dr. Hill (Charles Grodin), and into going to Dr. Abraham Sapristein (Ralph Bellamy), who tells her that her severe abdominal pains, extreme weight loss, unusually pale complexion, and cravings for raw meat are normal.

I thought this was a really good movie, but not a great horror movie. Though it’s technically a horror movie throughout once you find out what has been happening, it doesn’t really start becoming clear that it’s a horror movie until the last quarter of the movie. The rest of the movie was a little slow for my tastes, but the payoff made the wait worthwhile, even if I already knew what it was going to be, not because it was predictable but because the movie is too famous to keep the ending a secret. The way the movie plays out in the first three quarters is completely psychological and personal, and is entirely about watching Rosemary deal with her pregnancy and her paranoia as she thinks the people in her apartment are part of a coven of witches. Even with the slow pace of the early part of this movie, it managed to keep my attention all the way through, and I’d say the bulk of the reason for that will be coming later. The story was still good, but I was taken out of it on more than one occasion by things that seemed out of place, most of which could probably be explained by the time it was made. I suppose it was cool to rape your comatose wife back in the day. I suppose it was also cool to tell her how shitty her new short haircut that has nothing to do with the story looks. I suppose it was also not atypical for lots of random people that are connected to you to be afflicted with strange illnesses like random blindness and falling mysteriously into a coma because no one made that big of a deal of it or drew any connections to it when it happened. Sign of the times, I guess.

The performances sold this movie for me above its station. Mia Farrow was pretty damned riveting to watch all the way through the movie, which is great because she was barely ever not in a scene. And it wasn’t just because I think she was hot in the movie either; her performance was also excellent. She starts the movie off pretty naïve and happy-go-lucky, but when her protective mother instincts start to kick in she gets pretty frantic, and we really don’t know until the reveal of the movie whether she’s just being overly paranoid and crazy or if it’s real. Also, you get to see her boobs and the boobs of her body double, and that’s alright by me. Ruth Gordon was also in this movie, which I took special note of because I had reviewed Harold & Maude earlier and recognized her, but her performance was also pretty good. She seemed like a sweet, albeit annoyingly nosy, old lady, but always played it like there was something under the surface that was being hidden from everyone. Then there was, so I guess I was right. John Cassavetes delivered a good performance, but nothing really stood out until the end, when Rosemary walked in on the party. I liked his performance here because he was trying to act like everything was fine and trying to explain himself, but his guilt seemed obvious at the same time.

In my opinion, Rosemary’s Baby doesn’t really earn its reputation as one of the best horror movies, but it does stack up as a great, classic movie. It just doesn’t work as a horror movie to me because it’s not a horror movie until the very end. The rest of the movie moves really slowly and seems relatively uneventful, but is still very watchable. I think everyone should see this movie. It’s just one of those movies that everyone should have in their movie resume, if not in their movie collection. I don’t really feel the need to buy it myself, but I’m happy I watched it. Rosemary’s Baby gets “It was kinda fun in a necrophile sort of way” out of “And the artistic thrill too!”

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