Monday, November 4, 2013

Movie Monday: Look What's Happened To Rosemary's Baby

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For Halloween, I cranked up Rosemary's Baby and (re)enjoyed one of the greatest horror movies ever made on the perfect night for such things. For some reason, a few days later I then subjected myself to the 1976 sequel, Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby.

Most people don't even know there ever was a sequel to Rosemary's Baby, and with good reason; after it's initial airing on ABC, the film essentially disappeared, never to be seen again. I don't think it was ever put on VHS, so unless you can find it in bootleg form (guilty), LWHTRB is simply not available in any way.
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Directed by Rosemary's Baby editor Sam O'Steen, Look takes place sometime in the mid-70s; Rosemary Woodhouse (now played by Patty Duke) lives with her son Andrew (now around six or seven), more or less under the thumb of the devil cult we saw in the previous film. It's clear that Rosemary has been planning some sort of escape for a while, but she didn't put much thought into it: she runs away into a nearby town (we are most definitely not in Manhattan, as before). With seemingly no money and no supplies, she is forced to hide out in a synagogue while a rainstorm falls. Right off the bat, we see that director O'Steen trades the original's subtlety and nuance for in-your-face horror movie cliches: creepy lighting, thunderclaps, people making spooky faces into the camera at every turn.

Pursuing Rosemary are the Castanets, played by Ruth Gordon (the sole returning cast member from the movie; she should have known better) and Ray Milland, sitting in for Sidney Blackmer:
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Rosemary calls her estranged husband Guy (George Maharis), now a big star in Hollywood. She threatens to kill their son unless he wires her money in various cities; meanwhile, Andrew is accosted by some local kids and he uses what we guess are his dark powers to fend them off, complete with 1970s-style creepy devil music, with a little wah-wah pedal thrown in for good measure.

Rosemary and Andrew meet the town's local harlot Marjean (Tina Louise--yes, Ginger from Gilligan's Island) who takes them in. Turns out that Marjean is in cahoots with the cult, and tricks Rosemary onto a bus, trapping her, and then running off with Andrew. As the bus departs, Rosemary discovers it is driven by no one! She pounds on the glass, to no avail, and we watch as she is dragged off, presumably to Hell:

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This is by far the film's best scene; spooky and nightmarish, it delivers on some of the implied menace from the devil cult, who in this film are mostly just comical. The problem is, Rosemary is never seen again! She is essentially killed off in the story, which seems like an arbitrary move, and not a fitting end for the character.

The film then jumps head twenty years (making it take place around 1995!) and Andrew (Steven McHattie)--now going by the name the cult referred to him with, Adrian--has been living all these years with Marjean:
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The devil cult--still around, despite the fact that everyone in it must now be pushing a hundred years old--is using Adrian for their weird rituals, partly against his will. At one point they dress him up in costume and devil make-up, attempting to call Satan. This sort of works, leading to the possession of a bunch of young rock and roll fans and the death of Adrian's best friend Peter.

Adrian wakes up, suffering from amnesia, in a mental hospital where he is cared for by a comely nurse named Ellen (Donna Mills). He tells her his story, and she helps him escape, and they end up in a motel. It's here that Ellen reveals she is also a member of the cult, and after drugging him, she rapes Adrian so she can become impregnated with Satan's grandchild. During this scene there are some cutaways, with Mills donning (she what I did there?) some of sort of devil chicken outfit:
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Guy Woodhouse, thinking Adrian will try and kill him (what?), shows up and tries to run his son over in a car. He misses, hitting Ellen, then dying himself in the crash. Adrian fights off some cops, who assumed he is "on" something (it is the 70s, after all), and runs off into the night.

We then rejoin the Castanets, who are visiting their pregnant granddaughter during a visit with her obstetrician, who says the baby she's carrying is a-ok! The camera pans over Mills, who is swinging for the fences, and up to a painting on a wall, exactly the kind of thing you'd see in an average obstetrician's office:
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...not the end! Actually, it is.

Post-credits, there's a scene of Rosemary's Grandbaby being born, which tells us nothing new; we're told at the end of the movie that the pregnancy is coming along fine, so seeing a newborn infant is (I guess) supposed to be one final shock but instead it's an "Um...Ok" moment just as the whole thing fades to black.

No two ways about it, Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby is pretty much a complete failure, and that's even if it wasn't a sequel to one of the spookiest, most masterfully created horror movies of all time. Steven McHattie as Adrian/Andrew is a total blank; he spends the whole movie wandering around in a stupor, pushed from place to place and scene to scene. There are sequences with him and other assorted proto-hippies playing rock music that seem to go on for ages, and go nowhere.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Castanets and their cult, as presented here, are about as frightening as the Apple Dumpling Gang. They seem incompetent at best, unable to keep Rosemary from escaping, and then taking almost twenty years(!) to actually do anything with Adrian that will bring about Satan. And now that we see they're starting all over with Ellen's baby, it'll probably take another twenty! Do Ruth Gordon Ray Milland have that kind of time?

The biggest mistake of all is getting rid of Rosemary a third of the way into the film--she is our hero here, not the baby, and killing her off so unceremoniously just feels completely wrongheaded. Not that Patty Duke gets much to do other than scream and run around, but a story where she finally escapes the cult and has to remain on the run would have been a much more effective follow-up rather than The Son of Satan's Rock and Roll Adventures.

I'd like to imagine what Roman Polanski's reaction was to this film, but this was right around the time he was busy being a complete and utter scumbag, so I guess he probably missed it.



1 comment:

Caffeinated Joe said...

I will guess he missed it. I know I am glad I did! :)

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