The Baby – USA, 1973 – reviews

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‘There wasn’t enough space in toyland to escape the terror that rocked Baby’s cradle’

The Baby is a 1973 American horror thriller feature film directed by Ted Post (NightkillBeneath the Planet of the ApesMagnum Force) from a screenplay by co-producer Abe Polsky. The Quintet Films production stars Anjanette Comer, Ruth Roman, Marianna Hill, Susanne Zenor, and David Mooney.

Incredibly considering its subject matter, The Baby was rated “PG” in the United States, yet over the years its reputation has grown as one of the most deranged films of its era.

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Ann Gentry is a social worker, whose husband has been involved in a car crash in a car she was driving, and takes up the case of the twisted and mysterious Wadsworth family, and takes a special interest in a member only called “Baby”, a mentally impaired twenty-something who still acts and is treated like an infant by his mother and sisters.

Ann is interested in Baby and wants to see if she can teach him to behave appropriately for his age group. The Wadsworth clan has been neglectful and abusive to Baby, but Mrs. Wadsworth has been extremely overprotective of him ever since his father left shortly after his birth, and isn’t going to let another caregiver mess with her son.

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Eventually, Ann and her mother-in-law take Baby, and his mother and sisters come after them, but Ann and her mother-in-law kill them. We soon find out why she is so interested in Baby: so he can be a playmate for her husband, who was left with the mental capacity of an infant after his accident…

Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.co.uk

The Baby is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Video on September 25, 2018. New cover art was designed by Twins of Evil (Scalpel; Blood Feast; Vamp). The release features movie in both 1.85:1 and 1.33:1 aspect ratios, accompanied by original uncompressed PCM mono audio and optional English subtitles.

  • Audio commentary by Travis Crawford (new)
  • Down Will Come Baby – Retrospective with film professor Rebekah McKendry (new)
  • Tales from the Crib – Archival audio interview with director Ted Post
  • Baby Talk – Archival audio interview with star David Mooney
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Collector’s booklet

Reviews [may contain spoilers]:

” …the viewer is suitably intrigued throughout, while Germaine and Alba use Baby to work out their respectively sexual and sadistic frustrations. Serious performances keep the film from edging over into camp despite a “birthday party of the damned” lit in gels like Visconti’s The Damned, but the film edges into slasher territory late in the film and then finishes off with a truly loopy ending.” Eric Cotenas, DVD Beaver

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” …sick scenes have Baby being punished with a long shock stick, and Hill is seen disrobing and getting into Baby’s crib in the middle of the night. Some of the scenes with Baby resemble a tasteless Saturday Night Live skit (they unconvincingly dub in the cries of a real baby) and due to its limited budget, at times the film comes off like an ABC Movie of the Week. But it’s the tension between Comer’s character and the trio of crazy females that make The Baby interesting, as well as the unforgettable climax.” George R. Reis, DVD Drive-In

” …there’s murder, abuse, hippies, cattle prods, nursing, and, worst of all, an adult baby. Also, a twist ending! Neat! Still, I wouldn’t call The Baby a “bad” film exactly. If its ultimate goal was to make you feel as filthy as if you’d just waded through a mile of toxic scum in 1970s polyester pants, it is unequivocally successful.” John Gholson, Horror’s Not Dead

 …this twisted little gem may have limited appeal but certainly delivers the goods for those in the right frame of mind. Despite the film’s obviously low budget (Baby’s crying is dubbed unconvincingly with the sound of a real infant) and frequent lapses in taste (Ann’s visit to a class for the mentally handicapped), The Baby remains compelling viewing and has aged quite well.” Nathaniel Thompson, Mondo Digital

“The acting is full of ludicrous histrionics and classic exchanges like “Maybe we should have let them take him.” “The circus?” The scenes with David Manzy as the titular baby wailing, crawling about, dressed in diapers and with Anjanette Comer at one point trying to get him to run after a ball like a dog are guaranteed to have one in hysterics. It is a major testament to their acting ability that the cast were able to keep their faces straight while having to perform such scenes.” Richard Scheib, Moria

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” …it’s sort of juvenile in its wild provocation, mildly offensive, and a touch disturbing (particularly whenever Mooney is on screen and joined by the uncanny baby noises that were added in post to replace his own on-set cooing). Most telling, it’s the sort of film where you can actually debate what it’s most infamous scene should be—there are a few whoppers strewn throughout, but I’m very fond of that ridiculous ending.” Brett Gallman, Oh, the Horror!

“Full of performances that range from hammy to plain wooden, dialogue to match and a demented plot that is far from predictable right up to that ending – whether it’s a happy one or not is for the viewer to decide. Either way it will linger long in the memory proving that The Baby is a unique never forgotten cinematic experience truly deserving the status of cult classic.” Jason Cook, The Spinning Image

“Its oddity could have only come from the 70s; where else would you see a young babysitter breast-feeding an adult man? But The Baby manages to be more than just shock fodder. The scenes of Ann playing with Baby and looking through photos of her late husband are genuinely touching…” The Terror Trap

“Being a 70s movie, it all ends with a violent home invasion that’s followed by a surprise twist. The twist caught me totally off-guard and forced me to reconsider everything that I had previously seen. It was shocking, it was borderline offensive, it was just a little bit ludicrous, and it was rather brilliant in its odd way.” Lisa Marie Bowman, Through the Shattered Lens

” …despite its occasional lapses into genuine bad taste (exploiting the retarded) is fairly effective and contains a truly surprising twist ending.” TV Guide

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“Despite The Baby‘s outlandish story, the filmmakers play it entirely straight, adding no superfluous humor whatsoever (the sight of a grown man in a diaper is unintentionally hilarious). But even if The Baby isn’t the funniest film you’ve ever seen, I’ll bet money it’ll be one of the strangest.” Dave Becker, 2,500 Movies Challenge

“Sold in the poster and trailer as a bizarre expose of the depths of human depravity, the actual film has more in common with the “social message” TV movies of the era than it does with other sleazy grindhouse depictions of torture and perversion. In fact the moments that do extend into the perverse stand out to such a degree that they feel like last-minute additions to the script thrown in to please concerned financiers.” Vanity Fear

“Post does a solid job at maintaining a creepy atmosphere. And there’s a feeling that just about any kind of random craziness can and will happen. It’s only in the film’s final reel where it stumbles and stumbles badly as the final “twist” ending doesn’t quite work. Ruth Roman is pretty good as the baby’s nutzo mother, but Marianne Hill and Suzanne Zenor are excellent as his wicked sisters.” Mitch Lovell, The Video Vacuum

“The acting is chillingly superb, the characters are never stupid, and the movie makes its case well, making for some disturbing, plausible horror, up until the surprising twisted consequence-free ending that disappointingly makes the movie lose its plausibility.” The Worldwide Movie Massacre

Cast and characters:

  • Anjanette Comer as Ann Gentry – Dead of Night (1977); The Night of a Thousand Cats
  • Ruth Roman as Mrs. Wadsworth – Knife for the Ladies; The Killing Kind
  • Marianna Hill as Germaine Wadsworth – Schizoid; Blood Beach; Messiah of Evil; Black Zoo
  • Suzanne Zenor as Alba Wadsworth
  • Tod Andrews as Doctor
  • Michael Pataki as Dennis – Dead & Buried; The Bat People; Grave of the Vampire; Dream No Evil; et al
  • Beatrice Manley Blau as Judith
  • Erin O’Reilly
  • Don Mallon
  • Joseph Bernard
  • Virginia Vincent
  • David Mooney [as David Manzy] as Baby

Release:

Scotia International released the film in the USA in March 1973.

Image Entertainment published the film in the year 2000 on DVD and VHS.

The Baby was released on Blu-ray and DVD with a new transfer from the original negative by Severin Films in 2011.

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