Is it just fucking crazy for me to pick an obscure early 70's
less-than- horror flick about a retarded grown man who is kept
in a baby crib THE GREATEST MOTION PICTURE EVER MADE? Well go
ahead, butter my ass and call me a loon, because here I am proclaiming
THE BABY, just that, THE GREATEST MOTION PICTURE EVER MADE! *
Okay there's an asterisk, sure there are probably better movies
floating around out there, Hitchcock made a couple, sure Welles,
Wilder, Kazan, Lewis, hell even Milligan. So maybe it isn't the
highest quality, the most interesting, the best story, but that
does not change my previous declaration. THE BABY IS THE GREATEST
MOTION PICTURE EVER MADE!
Here's just a little of why I feel no shame saying that, first
off I demand you search out this gem quickly, it is on DVD, soon
to be out of print, I'm sure and you can get uncut VHS copies
from both Video
Screams and Witching
Hour Video. So that being said, get off your kiester and get
it. THE BABY, set in anytown, USA, circa early 70s, involves a
fresh faced social worker, Ann Gentry, who has just taken a special
interest in a case that involves anything but the typical Child
Welfare issue. You see the Wadsworth family, mother and daughters,
Germaine and Alba, all share there humble abode with the girl's
"little" brother, known affectionately only as Baby.
Ann goes to her initial visit at the Wadsworth with all the naiveté'
of Jim J. Bullock at the Mustang Ranch. Mother Wadsworth explains
that the man of the family has tucked tail and ran soon after
Baby was born because "he couldn't handle it." The women
make ends meet by the check that the state sends for Baby and
Alba's tennis lessons, oh yeah, and Germaine does the "occasional
TV commercial." But it's just all right by them to squeak
by, Mrs. Wadsworth assures Ann, because Baby is special. Ann insists
on getting a glimpse of Baby before leaving even though he is
napping. Mrs. Wadsworth begrudgingly agrees
right here let
me say, the first taste of Baby that we receive as viewers of
this beaut is well, FUCKING INCREDIBLE, the colors of the film
print look slightly above the typical made-for-TV shit of 1973
but contain all of the CrayolaTM palette we've come to expect
from the period. As the camera gives us Baby, in all his glory,
snuggled into his crib, to say the least, it is jaw dropping.
Ann reacts almost as if this is some sort of normal sight and
agrees to come back and visit when Baby is up and around. The
Wadsworths and smile nod and hurry Ann the Hell out of their house.
Wow, where is this thing going to go?
Infantilism, if you've been around the Internet, you might have
happened across this little bit of perversion. Grown-ups who like
to wear diapers, like to be treated like babies, i.e. have their
britches changed, be fed from a bottle or even breast fed and
of course disciplined. I've aid it a gazillion times, there' nothing
you can't find on the internet, but we are talking the early 1970s
here, what led the makers down the path of this bizarre notion
for a film. Abe Polsky wrote and produced this little taste of
crusty subject matter, Polsky also co-penned the very competently
written THE GAY DECEIVERS along with Gil Lasky, who wrote the
BOF fave THE NIGHT GOD SCREAMED,
Polsky also wrote some early episodes of KUNG FU as well as helped
out on the Dern and Nicholson biker epic THE REBEL ROUSERS. But
there is nothing that would lead you to believe he was a top-notch
sleaze merchant up until THE BABY anyway. The director Mr. Ted
Post, on the other hand was a TV stalwart from the mid 50s forward,
hitting his pinnacle in 1970 with BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES,
the follow-up to the now classic monkey epic. Post had to deal
with making a film that didn't have the main character from the
first, right-wing closeted homo and lover of ALL things that shoot,
Mr. Heston, Although I like BENEATH in some ways better than the
first, the public didn't, but Post found solace back on the Boob
Tube and even redeemed himself wholeheartedly by directed MAGNUM
FORCE, the follow-up to DIRTY HARRY, which was also released in
1973, the same year as THE BABY. But once again Post doesn't strike
me as an all out exploitationer. Was THE BABY possibly one of
those "Ripped from Today's Headlines" ideas? Had the
public heard of such a case? Was social welfare a hot button issue?
I'm sure the latter is true, it always has been but what was the
motivation behind this overgrown baby script? I'd love to know.
When Ann returns to the Welfare office she discusses the Wadsworth
case with her boss, who seems less than interested, other girls
have had the case in the past, no one really complained or found
anything wrong with the fact that the family did nothing to try
and help Baby. The social workers had all been fine with the treatment
Baby was receiving from the mother and his sisters. All but one,
but as soon as this one social worker started to pay attention
to what was going on, she up and disappeared. "People fall
of the edge of the Earth all the time!" Ann's boss tells
her. "Just leave it alone, the cops looked into it and they
were satisfied." But of course, our Ann is not about to give
up on Baby, she thinks the family are just holding Baby back and
she wants to get a little closer and see what Baby really knows.
Anjanette Comer handles the character of Ann rather effectively.
Ms. Comer seemed to run in the made for TV circles herself. Early
70s TV and especially TV movies and 9 o'clock dramas was a nice
little fraternity. The same names all pop up as far as writers,
directors and actors. For instance, Polsky the writer/producer
also wrote 1972's BRUTE CORPS, directed by Jerry Jameson. Jameson
also directed TERROR ON THE 4OTH FLOOR, which starred Comer. Jameson
is worthy of a bit of talk her on the site and I promise that
is coming, he was responsible for so many made for TV greats,
THE DEADLY SNIPER, THE SECRET NIGHT CALLER and THE INVASION OF
JOHNSON COUNTY just to name of few, later he can be held responsible
for Dr. Quinn, Murder, she wrote and Jake and the Fatman episodes
as well, a Saint he ain't! My point Post, Jameson, Polsky and
Comer were all part of this band of film folk putting in the hours
on studio product and they all knew each other. Comer is good,
Ruth Roman, she is great!
Roman plays Mrs. Wadsworth, play is not the appropriate word,
she don't play, she IS Mrs. Wadsworth. Roman begin her career
at the age of 20, getting mostly uncredited bit parts in films,
a drop dead gorgeous black haired raven, she could best be described
somewhere between Jane Russell and Sophia Loren in her young days.
In 1951 she caught the eye of Mr. Hitchcock and got a small but
decent role in the classic STRANGERS ON A TRAIN. Amazingly she
didn't garner as much attention as she should have and throughout
the 50s and 60s went on to episodic TV work doing stints on everything
from The Untouchables, to Route 66 to The Outer Limits. Roman
really does shine as the aging, self-reliant harlot type in THE
BABY. This is the kind of woman my mom invited over in the 70s
to pick her up before a night of hard drinking. A foul-mouthed,
dye haired, man-eater who was always up for a goodtime and always
smelled like cheap lipstick and cheaper beer. I'm talking about
my mom, my mom's friends and Mrs. Wadsworth. Roman's performance
is just as important in THE BABY as the strange story and she
pulls it off. Without giving too much way, in the film's most
shocking sequence involving Baby and his babysitter, Mrs. Wadsworth
and girls return home to find the babysitter a little mothering.
Mrs. Wadsworth beats the shit out of the girl, with a belt, with
her hands and with her high heels. Nasty, dirty and dark stuff,
and as a final caveat, she warns the girl, "Tell anyone what
happened to you and I'll report you to the authorities!"
Germaine and Alba are also strangely good. Germaine looks like
a possible exotic beauty, no doubt because she is. Marianna Hill,
played a big haired beauty in underground classics MEDIUM COOL
and THUMB TRIPPING, the latter I'm surprised doesn't get more
discussion. Hill also hit is big as Deanna Corleone in THE GODFATHER
PART II. All that is well and good, but I know her best from that
John Saxon and Jerry Gross fave BLOOD BEACH. Hill plays Germaine
as a kind of conniving "mama's girl." A stand out scene
involves her complimenting Ann's clothing then glaring at her
before inviting her to go hiking. There is more than a subtle
lesbian vibe to the scene. Ann declines; Germaine mumbles something
about "danger." But just a few scenes later we see Germaine
shed her nightie and share the crib with Baby. Eech! I think that's
incest, and I ought to know I'm from Kentucky! You'll quickly
get away from Germaine once you see here in the Baby's birthday
party scene though, she teases her hair to LION KING proportions
and it absolutely will put wrinkles in your peepee to see this
obvious reality of early 70s hair-dos, or in this case hair-don'ts.
As for Alba, she is just as cute as the tennis skirt wearing
younger sister. She is the bratty blond who never knows when to
shut up and is always pissing mama off and putting her foot in
her mouth. Susanne Zenor handles the duties of Alba. Zenor for
fans of Days of Our lives did time as Margo for a few years. Alba
has a real dark side, shown to us when she punishes Baby with
a cattle prod and when she teases her goofy beau, Michael Pataki,
(DRACULA'S DOG and that one Malachi from the Happy Days Demolition
Derby episode where Pinky gets all fucked up by the Malachi Crunch!)
with a lighter coaxing him to hold his finger in a flame for a
minute before sampling her bedroom volleying skills. Post's direction
of Alba during the cattle prod scene must have been a bit movie
magic, she comes off as a teeny bopping sadist shot in that wacky,
low-angle, fisheye shit I just love.
As the film progresses the plot thicken as we sense Ann becoming
more obsessed with Baby and we learn she herself has a few demons
in the closet. We begin to not trust anyone and Post does a very
able job of building to a nice batch of twists for the denouement'.
THE BABY is more a psychological thriller than out and out horror
film. The subject matter lends more than a few moments of shock
value. Baby, is brought to life by actor David Manzy. Quite a
daring role. His voice is overdubbed with actual gurgles, whimpers,
gaagaas and screams from an actual baby. His mannerisms, expressions
and awkward movements are fairly convincing. The fact he wears
PampersTM with a size 32 waist and has a slight 5 o'clock shadow
might leave your mouth agape though. Manzy's career ground to
a halt after THE BABY, I cannot track down a single project he
was credited under that name with. I'll warn you upon seeing Manzy,
if you're like me you spend the rest of the film hoping they never
show a diaper changing scene, I just know Baby could make big
poopoo, not to mention, one of those THREE MEN AND A BABY piss
in the face scenes! It could have turned ugly fast, you got to
wonder if any of that stuff might have been shot.
I refuse to give away much of this story because the best part
of viewing THE BABY is not knowing what to expect, critics will
say it is a bit to TV movie like for their tastes and that is
alright, if you find yourself that jaded. But believe me when
I tell you, there hasn't been a since to cover the ground this
one has and there won't be another. The comparisons to SPIDER
BABY stop at the ground man in a diaper stuff. Don't get me wrong
I think SPIDER BABY is a brilliant picture on multiple levels
but THE BABY still overshadows it on the weirdometer. If for no
other reason than it reminds you of a maudlin TV drama. That adds
to the surrealistic experience you get while watching THE BABY.
It is chock full of inane dialogue as well as its melodramatic
tone. A line forever burnt in my brain while watching it falls
from Mrs. Wadsworth mouth as Ann tries to rescue Baby, when she
and the girls jump in their Rambler to pursue they realize Ann
has knifed a radial. Roman bellows" She thinks of everything!"
Yes she does, Mrs. Wadsworth, yes she does
. it is just one
of THOSE moments.
THE BABY asks many questions about motherhood, empty nest syndrome,
man-hating and the lengths people will go to just to hold on to
someone because of a twisted love and feelings of fear and guilt.
I don't know if it answers any of them though.
THE BABY also made me ask a few as I watched it. I almost instantly
begged, "Is this for fucking real?" and "Where
they get those big PampersTM?" I think I uttered something
about "birth weight" and "stretch marks" as
well. Oh yeah, "puberty" and "morning hard-ons"
might have crossed my mind. "Do retards really jerk-off a
lot?" and "Why do they hug so much?" I think I
asked those questions too. I remember wondering, "Did the
drummer from Limp Bizkit have a similar childhood before those
white black guys and the one fruity guy in the funny clothes let
him drum in the band." And Ozzy, would "Ozzy eventually
end up in a crib, pissing on himself and sucking a bottle of Maalox
and Hennessey, I mean, he's retarded right?" All legitimate
questions, both from THE BABY and from any normal viewer.
As I said these are just a few reasons why I am willing to hang
my ass out on a limb by stating THE BABY IS THE GREATEST MOTION
PICTURE EVER MADE. I can only hope to drive you to the same conclusion
by motivating you to get yourself a copy. You probably won't agree
with my deduction, braves as it may be. Nonetheless I can almost
guarantee THE BABY will muster some sort of emotional response
from you, which is all you can ask of a film. I doubt you'll find
yourself riding the fence as to whether you love or loathe it.
Send me some mail if you want to discuss my proclamation, keep
in mind my asterisk though, which means I can change my mind at
any given time as to THE GREATEST MOTION PICTURE EVER MADE. But
right now this moment it's THE BABY. Thank you Mr. Post. OSCAR
should have visited you, and you should have powdered its ass
and burped it before drowning it in the tub.
Just watch the fucking movie.
Mail Tread or
Discuss this baby.
|Where are you Davie,
|Dammit! That Girl
Thinks of everything!
|Baby and his ball,
that boy sure is sweet!
|Baby bumped his
noggin, yes he did, yes, he.... er, sorry again.
Black Gestapo Black
Girl From Tobacco Row
Rape Squad Join
The Meateater Do
Dixie Dynamite POW!
Run Stranger Run
Horror House On Hwy 5
Behind Locked Doors It's
Nailgun Massacre Some
Bat Pussy It had to
Thunder Alley It is
Blood Freak A Classic
The Geek Bigfoot Porn
High School Ghosthustlers
Frankenstein Island You
SuperCock Not that kinda
The Alienator Feeling
Angel Midnight Fantasy
Vanity and the Beast
Tim Ritter's $0 budget wonder
Nightmare Prof. Tread
still can't sleep.
Shanty Tramp She is sumpin'
If Footmen Tire You...?
Viva' Knievel Evel of
The Killing Of A Chinese
Bookie! Smart Guy.
The Pink Angels Gayness,
The Burning The 80's,
ahhh the 80's.
Q - The Winged Serpant! Larry
Fight For Your Life!
WARNING Racist content
Walking Tall Buford Pusser
in the Hizouse!
Sleepaway Camp Internet
Born Losers Ya Loser!
Shriek of the Mutilated
Bro. George gets busy.
Bury Me An Angel
Gal Biker and more.
The Grim Reaper Reap
Abby One of William Girdler's
Deadbeat At Dawn A
Sonny Boy Carradine,
Great Hollywood Rape-Slaughter
Savage Weekend. Take
Dead and Buried. A Should-be
Hot Summer In Barefoot
Night Train To Terror
I Drink Your Blood Glug,
Vixen Russ Meyer and breasts!
Truck Stop Women Honnnk
Daddy's Deadly Darling!
Flesh Feast Maggots!
Soapy the Germ Fighter!
Why Doesn't Cathy Eat Breakfast?
Moonshine County Express!
The Night God Screamed!
White Dog Racists Pets!
Hunter's Blood City
Slickers get offed!
Devil Times Five Sean
Terror at the Red Wolf Inn
Headless Eyes See It
World's Greatest Sinner
One of the best!
The Baby! Goo Goo!
Summer Camp Nightmare Viva
Attack of the Beast Creatures
Let's Play Dead Incest
Island of Death Vacation
Evil Come, Evil Go! Bye,
Darktown Strutters Get
Poor Pretty Eddie Deep
Miami Golem Jewish Folklore
Tenement NYC Apartment
To Kill A Clown Alan Alda Vietnam Vet!
The Spook Who Sat Next To
The Door Booya!
I Woke Up Early The Day I
Died Mr. Ed Wood.
The Mutilation Man Andy
Copp goes arty on us!
The People Across The Lake
The Woman Hunt Load Up
These Are The Damned