Thursday, September 27, 2018

Blu-ray debut for a cult "classic" from the 1970s: Ted Post/Abe Polsky's THE BABY

Is THE BABY -- the 1973 shocker/horror/ slasher/chiller genre-movie written by Abe Polsky and directed by Ted Post just released on Blu-ray via Arrow Video -- some kind of camp classic? Or is it one of those movies so bad that it's good? Or simply so bad that it's awful? Or maybe just groundbreaking enough to sneak into the "classic" category? Turns out that The Baby proves pretty much all of the above. Just when you decide it is one thing, damned if it doesn't turn into another. And then another.

Overall, TrustMovies would have to say that The Baby is worth the time of viewers who love genre movies, particularly those that rather strain (if not full-out break) the "naughty" barrier. According to what we learn from the interviews in the Special Features section of this full-packed disc, the movie is more the work of writer Polsky than of director Post (shown at left) -- who, according to the Special Features section of this packed disc, had been brought in to class up the proceedings a bit and to add a little humor to the movie's dark mix. (During this same year of 1973, the director would also have two major films released: The Harrad Experiment and one of the "Dirty Harry" oeuvre, Magnum Force.)

The Baby's cast, too, is a cut above the usual for the horror genre: Anjanette Comer (above) and Ruth Roman (below) play, respectively the protagonist and antagonist, and both do a good job in roles the characterization of which rely as much on acting talent and charisma as any depth of writing.

The plot has it that an overly-caring social worker (played by Ms Comer) sets her sights the case of the "baby" of the title, a grown young man who is still in diapers and baby clothes and never seems to have progressed in intelligence or motor skills beyond the infant stage. His mother (Ms Roman) and sisters seems happy, eager maybe, to make sure he remains this way. They get a nice monthly stipend from the state to take care of the boy.

Baby is played by the young actor who used the name of David Manzy (aka David Mooney), and who is indelible enough in the role that you could imagine no casting director would ever take a chance on him in any other kind of role after this film. (Look what happened to the versatile, hugely talented and award-winning Anthony Perkins, once he had made his mark in Psycho.)

The plot, as well as the pacing, goes up and down, back and forth, as the movie moves oddly along and we are treated to some very weird, maybe even taboo delights, the best of which involves a babysitter (Erin O'Reilly, above) and a little unplanned breast-feeding.

We move on to a kidnapping, slashings and murders, and a surprise ending that's a hoot and a half. (That's Marianna Hill, above, who plays one of Baby's two nasty sisters.) By movie's end, you'll probably be satisfied that you watched this very oddball genre piece. Certainly, nothing quite compares to it.

As usual with Arrow Video, the Blu-ray transfer is excellent -- crisp, bright and colorful -- and the disc comes complete with a number of interesting bonus features: new audio commentary from Travis Crawford, archival audio interviews with Ted Post and David Manzy, a recent interview with Marianna Hill (in which she talks about director Post as though he were Ingmar Bergman or Roberto Rossellini), and a very interesting appreciation of The Baby by film professor Rebekah McKendry.

Distributed in the USA via MVD Visual and running 84 minutes, the movie hit the street this past Tuesday, September 25, on Blu-ray only -- for purchase and (I hope, somewhere, somehow) rental.

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