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Monday, January 7, 2008

Rosemary's Baby (1968)


A "devilishly" good movie

Psychological terrorism and supernatural horror have rarely been dramatized as effectively as in this classic 1968 thriller, masterfully adapted and directed by Roman Polanski from the chilling novel by Ira Levin. Rosemary (Mia Farrow) is a young, trusting housewife in New York whose actor husband (John Cassavetes), unbeknownst to her, has literally made a deal with the devil. In the thrall of a witches' coven headquartered in their apartment building, the young husband arranges to have his wife impregnated by Satan in exchange for success in a Broadway play. To Rosemary, the pregnancy seems like a normal and happy one--that is, until she grows increasingly suspicious of her neighbors' evil influence. Polanski establishes this seemingly benevolent situation and then introduces each fiendish little detail with such unsettling subtlety that the film escalates to a palpable level of dread and paranoia. By the time Rosemary discovers that her infant son "has his father's eyes" ... well, let's just say the urge to scream along with her is unbearably intense! One of the few modern horror films that can claim to be genuinely terrifying, Rosemary's Baby is an unforgettable movie experience, guaranteed to send chills up your spine. --Jeff Shannon


The rare 'Rosemary's Baby' trailer



Ira Levin's classic tale of gothic horror in 1960's Manhattan is wonderfully brought to life by Roman Polanski in the film version. The movie has much more depth and strength of characterization than the book, and the biggest surprise, when the movie first opened, was Mia Farrow's absolutely great performance as Rosemary.

The movie stays very close to the book throughout, and the actors are terrific. John Cassavetes is excellent as Rosemary's low-life actor husband who sacrifices her to his ambition without a second thought; Ruth Gordon won a well-deserved Oscar for best supporting actress as the delightfully wacky witch next door; Sidney Blackmer gives a chilling performance as her sinister husband whose name is an anagram that sends Rosemary hurtling down a spiral chute of terror and panic, and Ralph Bellamy is total perfection as the evil Dr. Sapirstein.

The two best scenes in the movie are the scene in which Rosemary, who wants a baby more than anything else in the world, finds herself being impregnated by God-knows-what, and the scene toward the movie's end when she realizes just what she was impregnated with. The movie was shot mostly in and around the Dakota, the grand old Upper West Side co-op that lends itself remarkably well to the creepy projection of a haunted house, the cinematography and film editing are excellent, and Polanski's direction proves that a great horror movie doesn't have to be a slasher film to effectively scare the bejesus out of you. There's no blood, no gore, no violence; just a great psychological horror ride, and it works. By JLind555

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