Saturday, April 2, 2011

"The Baby"(1973)d/Ted Post

I recall seing tonight's review a handful of times during my childhood; it used to be you could catch a viewing of it every so often on late night television during the seventies, before it vanished altogether(Image put out a bare bones disc in 2000, made obsolete by a special edition from the folks at Severin Films that boasts of a new transfer from the original negative and even the original trailer, scheduled for release this year) for ages.When I picked up the Image disc years back, I revisited the movie for kicks, and though it's mostly drab and awful, packed with psychedelic, gaudy filler party footage that goes on forever, offset by Marianna Hill's highrise hairdo that seems to grow with every scene and Ruth Roman's Crawford-esque turn as Mrs. Wadsworth, Baby's mother, there's a real twisted tale behind it all that will have unadulterated sex with your grey matter long after the tv's been shut off... if you can stay awake long enough to wait for it, that is.I'd imagine this'd make pretty epic viewing in spots if you happened to be in an altered state of some sort.Not sayin' bath salts or anything drastic like that, maybe just a fattie bowl of sticky buds over a painkiller cocktail.Y'know, the very lightest expansion of your horizons.Even straight up with no chaser, this one is strange like that Ichabod Crane lookalike with Bryan Adams' complexion that taught you foreign languages in college out of a metal attache' case.You know there weren't any notes or prototype tests in that blasted thing, just his own mother's mummified heart with a bite out of it or something.Strange.Just like this movie.
Marianna Hill proves adept at puddin' spoonin' with a smile.Her hair gives me vertigo.
The Wadsworth family is about to screen another social worker, Ann Gentry(Anjanette Comer), a lonely woman in the throes of deep depression following a car accident she was in.The Wadsworths are comprised of Mater Dubya(Ruth Roman),her two creepy daughters, Alba and Germaine(Susanne Zenor,Marianna Hill),and Baby(David Manzy),a twenty-one year old gent decked out in baby clothes and diapers, who sleeps in a crib.Ann doesn't seem to have a problem with this picture, doting over the man, speaking babytalk, and telling him just how cute he looks, when in actuality, he rolls around like a disturbed basset hound that's just eaten an ounce of shrooms, over a seemingly endless piped in track of babies gurgling and crying(!).Mrs. W is a harsh dame indeed, rougher than P12 sandpaper, and when Ann starts putting in volunteer o.t. in caring for Baby, she starts to grow suspicious of her.Ann, no stranger to mental illness herself, walks the tightrope of shithouse rat craziness and secrecy, living in a sizeable domicile with her mother-in-law and possessing of an exquisite wardrobe...all on a social worker's salary?Hmmm.Her husband is m.i.a., and Ann seems indecisive about whether he's alive or dead, telling different stories to different people and sobbing with her mother over vacation slides.Meanwhile, the Wadsworths come home from an evening out to find a flabbergasted flamehead babysitter with her freckled tit in Baby's mouth.She gets the packing peanuts whipped out of her with a beltbuckle for her horny troubles.You see,Baby is his own family's imprisoned object d'sex(!!), as we see Germaine shedding gear in the middle of the night and climbing into Baby's crib.That is, when he isn't being shock-tortured with a cattle prod(!!!),"Baby doesn't talk!" Bzzzzt."Baby doesn't walk!" Bzzzt."EVERRRR!!!" Bzzzt.Bzzzt.
In Baby, bawdy Bonnie Franklin lookalikes bare their bobblers to be orally bankrupted by bent baby-men.
Whenn Ann starts throwing around the idea of putting Baby into a special school where he might, you know...develop past the infancy stage, an enfuriated Mrs. W gives Ann the bootskis, calling her superiors and getting her removed from the case.Not to be outdone, Ann starts using the L word(hint: it ends in awyer)in rescuing Baby, his mother changes her tune, inviting the woman to Baby's upcoming groovy birthday party.Germain and Alba manage to slip the interloper a mickey amidst the loud seventies fashions, pot smoke, and chicken dancing to outta sight tuneage(there's a lot of this turning up in the reviews lately, I may have to investigate the phenomenon...nah.), leaving the hogtied, unconscious quidnunc in the basement.More resilient than a chameleon's ass cheeks, Ann slips out of her bindings, gaffles up Baby, and splits back to her mansion.When the Wadsworth women inevitably break into the estate to try and ninja back their oaf, Ann and her mother-in-law are already waiting to serve up some funky death to the trespassers.Jermaine receives a Columbian necktie, Alba takes a shiv to the back, and Mrs. W gets shoved over the staircase bannister, effectively breaking both of her legs, but that doesn't spare her a plot in the makeshift mass grave they've dug in the backyard; she gets buried alive.In what can be argued is the "Holy fuuuuuuuck!" finale of the seventies(it's up there, for sure), we finally see why Ann was so interested in Baby in the first place.Baby serves as a playmate for Ann's husband, rendered a waterhead through brain injuries in the aforementioned car accident.Credits!
It's not all titties and bouncy ball for Baby(David Manzy), check out that gear he's forced to rock.
Director Post, who helmed an assload of television in the fifties and sixties, also directed popular Clint Eastwood vehicles, Hang 'em High(1968) and Magnum Force(1973), as well The Harrad Experiment(1973).Anjanette Comer is probably most well known by fans for her work in the Spanish genre flick, Night of 1,000 Cats(1972) and the tv anthology, Dead of Night(1977).Marianna Hill you'll remember from her work in Messiah of Evil(1973),Blood Beach(1980), and/or Schizoid(1980), though High Plains Drifter(also 1973,busy year for this chick,eh?)deserves a mention as well.Ruth Roman should be familiar enough to woprophiles for her work in Grefe's Impulse(1974), Girdler's Day of the Animals(1977), and Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train(1951).About Baby, sure the dated party sequence is paced terribly, making the entire effort a bit slow,but it's definitely worth a view just for the bizarre subject matter and plot twists therein, if not only for the crazy-assed ending.Two solid big ones.
Since car accident, Ann's husband sorts glass.Round ones here, square ones here.


Nick Cato said...

Always wanted to see this one---cool review.

beedubelhue said...

Thanks Nick! I'm surprised you haven't!


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