Saturday, May 4, 2013

ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968)

"Hail, Satan! Hail, Satan!"

I've heard people mention that since ROSEMARY'S BABY came out 5 years before THE EXORCIST it was the catalyst for the Satanic movie boom of the 70's.  That might be true, to a point, but I don't fully subscribe to that argument.  Polanski's film is more concerned with Rosemary's paranoia than with any of the Satanic elements (I believe that ROSEMARY'S BABY is an extension of the ground Polanski covered in REPULSION and would again later visit in THE TENANT) and pretty much all of the terror in the film comes from the unknown, so there wasn't much for the exploiters to exploit.  Yeah, there were a few Satanic films released during the years in between, but it wasn't until THE EXORCIST was released in all of it's spiderwalking, crucifix fucking, head-spinning, vomit-spewing glory that the unholy gates of Hell were fully opened into the movie theaters.

Rosemary Woodhouse is a normal girl.  Her husband is a mildly successful actor that mostly appears in TV commercials.  They've decided to get a new apartment and that's were we see them for the first time: touring an old apartment.  Even this early in the film the seeds of unease are planted with the dark interiors and with a dresser that placed in front of a closet.  Why would the former tenant put it there?  Anyway, Rosemary and her husband rent the apartment and for a little while things go fine, but then small strange things start to happen...

Regrettably, I've never read Ira Levin's novel that was the source material for the film, but from what I've read the film is actually quite a faithful retelling...and it shows.  While I was revisiting the film for this review I kept thinking how the slow pacing is almost like reading a really good book that teases you while gradually building up steam.  I've never been to film school (or any kind of school for that matter) but I would imagine RB would be an excellent example of how to create tension through proper pacing and editing.

Highly, highly recommended for lovers of great cinema.  Modern horror audiences might not care for it since it's not graphic in anyway, but, in my opinion, ROSEMARY'S BABY is not only one of the best films of the 60's, but one of the best movies of all time.  The Academy Awards might have messed up a lot of things over years, but giving the Best Supporting Actress to Ruth Gordon for this film was definitely the right choice.  I would love to know who's idea was it for her to eat so strangely?  And wipe the knife mark on the floor?
 William Castle cameo.