Day 22- 31 Days of Halloween- Look What’s Happened To Rosemary’s Baby (1976)

Day 22- 31 Days of Halloween- Look What’s Happened To Rosemary’s Baby (1976)

It’s extremely brave to decide to make a sequel to a beloved horror classic. It can almost feel like some kind of suicide mission as critics and the general public alike will trot out the hackneyed old cliche of ‘It’s not as good as the first film!’ as if this is an extremely original and perceptive line of criticism to extol.

If you do decide to make said sequel there are several routes you can take when doing this. You can either try to recreate the tone and feel of the original (Halloween 2 is an example of this and a very good sequel). You can try to make a film that has a tone and atmosphere all of it’s own whilst setting the action years ahead of the events of the original film (for example, Psycho 2 is an excellent film). Then you can make a film that is completely out there and batshit crazy. The ‘made for TV sequel’ to Rosemary’s Baby, the masterpiece made by Roman Polanski in 1968, goes down this route. It’s not often that whilst I watch a film I have a smile permanently etched onto my face at the sheer insanity I’m watching on the screen and that after the film has ended I have to take a few moments to reacclimatise myself to everyday life again whilst thinking ‘What the fuck was that?!’ And I mean that in the best possible sense.

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I will try to summarise the madness contained within this gem’s plot. I don’t normally like to give detailed and ‘scene by scene’ plot outlines in my reviews but what you will read speaks for itself and sells the film perfectly.

The film starts with a voice-over précis of the final events of the original but with the voices of the new actors in this production (only one actor returns from the original film and thankfully it’s Ruth Gordon who is as brilliant in this movie). In this scene Rosemary (now played by Patty Duke) discovers  the baby she has given birth to but has been swiftly taken away from her. Rosemary looks at him and expresses horror at his eyes. Obviously, the dialogue here is different and not as impactful as the original.

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The first part of the film is called The Book of Rosemary and concerns her taking her son (called Adrian by the Satanic coven we know and love from the original but called Andrew by her to try and distance him from the role the coven think he’s destined to live) away from the clutches of the coven and running away. She seeks refuge in a synagogue knowing that if she is in a house of God then the coven can’t harm her in any way. It’s here that we see her press a crucifix on a chain into her son’s chest only for her to later see with horror that it has seared an imprint into his skin. We then see Rosemary the next day at a bus stop making a call to her famous actor ex-husband Guy (now played by George Maharis). As she speaks to him a group of children start to taunt Adrian/Andrew and take his toy car from him. In return he turns all full-on Satan on them and they fall to the ground unconscious. A random stranger Marjean has seen the whole incident and hides Rosemary and her son in her trailer. Marjean then offers to help Rosemary and her son to get onto a bus to escape. But whilst Rosemary boards the bus, the bus doors close and it rides off with her trapped on it whilst Marjean is at the roadside with Adrian/Andrew in her arms. It becomes apparent that Marjean is in fact a follower of the coven and this was planned all along. Rosemary goes to speak to the driver of the bus but it’s then revealed that there is no driver on the bus. And this is the first act of the film! Crazy doesn’t describe it!

The second part of the film is called The Book of Adrian. It’s more than 20 years later. We see Andrew/Adrian get pulled over for speeding. He later goes to a casino/nightclub that Marjean runs (described by him as his Aunt) who is alarmed by his apparently wild behaviour. She then refers to his parents as being killed in a car crash. We then see Adrian/Andrew’s demonic side come to the fore as he tries to run over a biker gang. Minnie and Roman (the wonderful Gordon and Ray Millard) turn up to the casino to see Andrew/Adrian and ask him to drink one of Minnie’s concoctions (echoes here of the chocolate mousse and ‘health drink’ from the original film) and when he falls unconscious they paint him in demonic warpaint.

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The warpaint scene. Once seen, never unseen

It’s here that I will leave the plot synopsis alone as to reveal anymore would impact on the viewers experience on watching this TV movie for the first time (just to add that there is a third act to the film called The Book of Andrew). Theres a musical interlude within this second segment where we see a far-out rock band at the casino get stage invaded by Andrew/Adrian. It’s one of the freakiest scenes of the whole movie and thats really saying something!

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Lets here it for the band

There are never any troughs in this movie. It starts at weirdness level 11 and continues at that level until the climax.

I’m so glad that this sequel was made in the hedonistic, narcotically charged 70’s as the full unbridled eccentricity of the movie could be shot with no holds barred by filmmakers who were clearly heavily medicated. Add to the mental shenanigans a brilliant darkly psychedelic soundtrack by the ever great Charles Bernstein and you have a rollicking great time. There is also some impressive cinematography that is some of the best I’ve seen in a TV movie. In fact, I love the idea of some Average Joe at home in his 70’s American home watching this be accident. I actually think it enriched and expanded minds.

I’m so glad that this movie was made and that comes from a massive fan of the original film. If you love mental cinema, watch this. In fact, watch this back to back with the Exorcist 2: The Heretic.

I saw this on YouTube in a transfer from a very poor VHS tape. With Scream Factory releasing horror TV movies on Blu ray nowadays I hope to God (pun not intended) that they unleash this. A great transfer using a pristine print would be something to behold. This film deserves it.

4/5 out of 5 stars

 

Jason X – Day 30 – 31 Days of Halloween

Jason X – Day 30 – 31 Days of Halloween

Jason in Space. 

And it works beautifully. Tongue firmly in cheeck but with awesome kills (check out the liquid nitrogen death). Theres also the small bugs that help things to heal super quick, Uber Jason, the female android, the cameo by David Cronenberg… Lots to like.


Friday fans seem to hate this film. They’re the same as the Halloween fans who hate Halloween 3: Season of the Witch. Idiots basically. I’m so glad I’m right about such things 🙂

4 out of 5

Evil Dead 2 – Day 29 – 31 Days of Halloween

Evil Dead 2 – Day 29 – 31 Days of Halloween

A bigger budget, a remake of sorts, this film was released when the video nasties furore was petering out. People were starting to see that horror movies wouldn’t turn the working class oinks into bloodthirsty serial killers or even adversely affect their dogs (as Graham Bright so hilariously claimed) but could be considered as art and great entertainment to boot.


This film was held up quite rightly as one such film. Raimi’s imagination goes into overdrive with this entry as we have Ash battling his own hand, chopping it off and replacing it with a chainsaw. Groovy. My favourite character has to be the mounted moose head that suddenly comes back to life.

This really is one of the most franetic, kinetic pieces of film I’ve ever seen. We also get to see Ash as a Kandarian demon. Brilliant. And the premise for the next film in the series is established at the end. And theres no CGI. Hooray. There is so many great scenes in this film that its impossible to cover even a tiny amount of the insanity. Watch this film and fasten your seatbelts.

Highly recommended. 4 out of 5

Final Processing-Why everyone should love Halloween 3: Season of the Witch

Final Processing-Why everyone should love Halloween 3: Season of the Witch

It surprised me to learn that fans of the Halloween series of films harshly judge Halloween 3: Season of the Witch as the runt of the litter. Yes, the film isn’t centred around Michael Myers but is it really worthy of the scorn poured on it by fans of the rest of the franchise?

I first saw it on video in 1984 when I was the tender age of 9. It was released in the midst of the whole Video Nasties furore and so was cautiously trimmed of any ‘excessive’ gore by Thorn EMI. The same company had garnered plenty of negative criticism as they had distributed the film The Burning on video. I saw this censored version of H3 but had no idea it was cut. The film was then shown on BBC1 who accidentally showed the full version. The full version blew my mind. I was so glad that I recorded the film on VHS on this occasion as the film was subsequently shown in its censored state after this.

There are many reasons to take this film to your bosom and love it unconditionally.

Firstly, the cinematography is by Dead Cundey who amongst other things also shot the original Halloween. His camerawork in this film ranks as some of his best. Panoramic landscapes, the eeriness of small town America and an incredibly brutal scene in a forensic laboratory that could have been from Halloween 2 are all shot beautifully.

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The film’s soundtrack is by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth- if this is not enough to excite the most ardent horror fan then I don’t know what is. This soundtrack is one of the greatest film scores written by them and is in my humble opinion one of the greatest film soundtracks of all time. Synthesizers are used to chilling effect to convey a sense of constant doom that permeates the film and proceedings depicted therein. This score is essential. A few years ago it was released expanded and remastered- this is the definitive version. The jingle for the commercial used in the film will burrow its way into your brain and never leave.

The films cast are impressive also. The film’s villain is played by none other than Dan O’Herlihy a well respected award winning actor who had been nominated for an Academy Award years before. He was also in cult favourite Robocop.

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The film’s leading man is Tom Atkins aka ‘The Man’. He is perfect for the role of the alcoholic tomcat Dr Dan Challis. He will be known to all fans of Carpenter’s work as he was in The Fog and Escape From New York. He makes for a flawed but likeable and convincing leading man.

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The screenplay for the film is a thing of bizarre beauty- an evil Irish toymaker wishes to kill every child in America by using microchips containing particles of one of the stones from Stonehenge attached to each Halloween mask his factory makes. A special commercial shown on Halloween night will activate the deadly microchip on each mask and melt the wearer’s brains into a mass of spiders, snakes and creepy crawlies. OK, so this is also very far fetched but you just have to suspend disbelief and enjoy the film. I’m so glad I first saw the film when I was 9 rather than seeing it when I was a more cynical older age. Nigel Kneale of Quatermass fame helped write the first draft of the script but then asked for his name to be taken off it after the filmmakers decided to develop the film in ways he didn’t approve of. Apparently the final draft of the script is still mostly Kneale’s handiwork.

The film takes place in the fictional small town of Santa Mira. This is a reference to the movie Invasion of the Bodysnatchers which takes place in a small town with the same name.

Tommy Lee Wallace directs with the ease of an experienced filmmaker. Instead of making just another horror film to compete with the other horror movies being released that year he delivers a film that is gorgeous to look at whilst being atmospheric and best of all, scary as hell.

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The film also makes some brilliant observations about consumerism (When Challis presents his kids with cheap Halloween masks hes bought they look disappointed and explain that their mother has bought them the more expensive Silver Shamrock versions) and the insularity and creepiness of small town America (check out the scene in which Challis and Ellie drive into Santa Mira for the first time).

All of these ingredients helped Halloween 3 to be more than another formulaic horror sequel. Something was created that was innovative, unique and scary as hell. Halloween fans hated the film as Michael Myers wasn’t in the film (even though he was briefly ho ho ho) and dismissed the film before it had even been released. I bet a lot of the most vocal detractors of the film haven’t even seen it. If the film had just been released under the name of Season of the Witch it would have fared better with horror fans- but ironically may have fared much worse at the box office as it didn’t have the Halloween moniker. A Catch 22 situation.

Whilst the film has its detractors its also has its fans. They seem to love the film even more because of its reputation and because its far from being the cinematic trainwreck that some people will have you believe.

I agree with these fans and am smug in the knowledge that we know that Halloween 3 is great. In fact I think its ones of the best horror films of the 80s. The franchise fans who detest H3 are the ones who like the sequels that featured Michael after this- even the one that stars Busta Rhymes. If this isn’t the biggest backhanded compliment for H3 fans then I don’t know what is.

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