Everyone has their staples for Halloween watching, like John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and “Nightmare Before Christmas.” But be forewarned, gentle reader, because your master of Scarimonies (God, I sound like the Crypt Keeper), Dukey Flyswatter, will suggest some gems and themes that may have flown drastically under your radar, like a schizophrenic Vampire Bat. Week three we focus on drive-in gems and Just plain weirdness.
Monday Oct.17th The Baby (1973)
Director: Ted Post. Stars: Anjanette Comer, Ruth Roman, Marianna Hill, Michael Pataki.
“The Baby” is an edgy drive-in thriller that was shelved for a year after the studio screening because it came across nastier and more deranged than it did on the page (If they read it closely at all). Eventually, the film escaped for a short run, and then on to VHS rental houses, where cult reviewers like Joe Bob Briggs would bring it to the attention to all of the weirdos like myself.
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed social worker (Comer) makes her rounds on her first assignment to check up on the Wadsworths and their child, “Baby.” Now, you would think this would be in the profile, since the family is already receiving benefits from the state and county. But the social worker is surprised to discover that Baby is a diaper-wearing, baby bottle-sucking man of 21. He crawls on all fours, cries and drools a lot. He is also completely dependent on the family matriarch (Roman), and her bitchy daughters, played by Marianna Hill and Susanne Zenore. The newbie social worker may be a babe in the woods, but it doesn’t take long for her to suspect that there is something rotten under the surface, and Baby is the product of each woman’s disastrous past dealings with men, disasters that have led the women to criminal-level resentments.
The awfulness of the abuse and the taut machinations to save Baby from his house of Hell is what makes the film still hold up to this day. Ruth Roman gives a wicked and scary performance that would have made Bette Davis proud. Highly recommended. You can get “The Baby” on Blu Ray from Amazon. It shows up from time to time on Turner Classic Movies as well.