Rosemary’s Baby and the Dark Side of Motherhood

rosemary-posterMotherhood can be a joyous thing; the miracle of birth, a child the result of a bond between two people. Watching the child grow and discover life can be heartwarming and reaffirming. Then again, the idea of a live organism, another person growing inside you, just might be a bit unsettling and disturbing as you watch your body change, and who knows what the child will be like. He/she could turn out to be a bright, upstanding member of the community. Then again, your little precious could turn out be another Al Capone or Jeffrey Dahmer or even worse.

Many films have focused on the dark side of motherhood: Psycho, Mildred Pierce, Mommie Dearest and most recently the current movie Tully. There are plenty of other films with motherhood gone wrong. Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate is one of the best bad mothers. On the other side of the fence are mothers who love too much; they are self-sacrificing and end up with a daughter like Veda in Mildred Pierce.

And then there is Rosemary’s Baby. Continue reading

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Dolores Claiborne 1995 (Taylor Hackford)

Dolores-Claiborne-1995-kathy-bates-30819297-1500-996In my own personal hierarchy, Dolores Claiborne secures its spot as one of the best adaptations of a Stephen King novel. This film is a “horror” story sans chainsaws, hacked body parts or ghosts. Well, that last part is just partially correct, only here, the ghosts are psychological. Director Taylor Hackford and screenwriter Tony Gilroy have given us a mature and cleverly made thriller with superb acting from Kathy Bates and Jennifer Jason Leigh.  Continue reading

Sisters (1973) Brian De Palma

sistersBrian De Palma admittedly has been tapping into Alfred Hitchcock since his earliest works going back as far as Murder a la Mod in 1968. However, many other filmmakers have drawn inspiration from or just plain copied the master of suspense over the years including Henri-Georges Clouzot (Diabolique), Jonathan Demme (Last Embrace), Francois Truffaut (Mississippi Mermaid), David Fincher (Panic Room), D.J. Caruso (Disturbia) and  Woody Allen (Match Point) just to name a few. It’s difficult to make a suspense film without leaning at least a bit on the master.  De Palma’s second foray into Hitchcock’s world came in 1973 with Sisters. After a series of low budget independent films: the previously mentioned Murder a la Mod, The Wedding Party, Greetings and Hi Mom! De Palma signed up with Warner Brothers to make the social satire, Get to Know You Rabbit. Creatively and financially it was a dud. Continue reading

Doctor X (1932) Michael Curtiz

doctor-x-movie-poster-1932-1010524764A grisly mass murderer who is known as the “Full Moon Killer,” his victims are always attacked when the moon is full, is on the loose in New York City. The only clue the police have is that the killer must have a medical background. Doctor Xavier, aka Doctor X, (Lionel Atwell) and his staff at a local medical institute have become the main suspects since the victims are not only strangled but cannibalized. The good doctor convinces the police to let him conduct an in house investigation of his staff for 48 hours so as not to stain the reputation of the institute. They agree. Continue reading

Ten Favorite Horror Films Plus Some

A little Halloween fun with this post. A list of my ten favorite horror films plus a dozen more. As a kid, the one film that scared the hell out of me was Robert Wise’s, The Haunting, based on Shirley Jackson’s novel, The Haunting of Hill House.  I was a young teen, home alone on a Saturday night. On TV was this ghostly classic. It wasn’t what you saw that was scary, it was what you didn’t see. The unknown and the unseen are definitely more frightening. I was never so happy to have my parents finally come home!

I always found horror films that take place in normal or everyday situations, meaning without monsters or blobs, much scarier than the ones with three headed creatures or aliens. Rosemary’s Baby takes place in New York City. A typical couple who live in an apartment building with neighbors all around. Who doesn’t have neighbors, right? We can all relate. Rosemary’s only problem is her nice friendly neighbors are devil worshippers and her loving, but hungry for success, out of work husband/actor made a hellish deal. The same with Invasion of the Body Snatchers, except we are now in small town America. Can your neighbor be a pod? Will you be next? Continue reading

Hands of the Ripper (1971) Peter Sasdy

Ripper

Who knew Jack the Ripper had a daughter? I didn’t. Well, Hands of the Ripper a 1971 Hammer film assumes it’s so and naturally, she’s a daddy’s girl. Murderous as her dear old dad. Young Anna’s (Angharad Rees) problems begin after she witnesses, as a very young child, old Papa Jack murdering her mother. Some 15 years later we see Anna has been taken in and cared for by Mrs. Golden (Dora Bryan) a fake medium and part time pimp. Not exactly an agent of the Children’s Aid Society!

When a Member of Parliament pays for the young girl’s sexual favors, actually taking her virginity, her harrowing memories of her mother’s brutal death trigger psychotic episodes turning her into a maniacal killer. A Dr. Prichard (Eric Porter) takes the poor girl in. Prichard, an early student of Freud, believes he can find a cure to Anna’s deep rooted “problem.” Unfortunately, while under the doctor’s care Anna continues her murderous rage. Continue reading

Repulsion (1965) Roman Polanski

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