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August 14, 2012

The Mike's Top 50 Horror Movies Countdown: #19 - Rosemary's Baby

Previously on the Countdown: Number 50 - Happy Birthday to Me  Number 49 - Prince of Darkness  Number 48 - House on Haunted Hill  Number 47 - The Monster Squad  Number 46 - Hellraiser  Number 45 - The Fog  Number 44 - Creature From the Black Lagoon  Number 43 - Zombie  Number 42 - Tales from the Crypt  Number 41 - Bubba Ho-Tep  Number 40 - Phantom of the Paradise  Number 39 - Dog Soldiers Number 38 - Pontypool  Number 37 - Dark Water  Number 36 - Army of Darkness Number 35 - The Legend of Hell House  Number 34 - Poltergeist  Number 33 - The Abominable Dr. Phibes  Number 32 - The Phantom of the Opera  Number 31 - The House of the Devil   Number 30 - Evil Dead II  Number 29 - Dead of Night  Number 28 - Carnival of Souls  Number 27 - Nosferatu  Number 26 - Candyman  Number 25 - The Texas Chain Saw Massacre  Number 24 - Horror of Dracula  Number 23 - The Wicker Man  Number 22 - Suspiria  Number 21 - The Omen  Number 20 - Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told
Rosemary's Baby
(1968, Dir. by Roman Polanski.)
 Why It's Here:
A fantastic book I read last year - Shock Value, which is reviewed here, to be exact - certainly gave me new light on just what it is about Rosemary's Baby that is so impressive.  I've always found it to be one of the most engrossing paranoia horror films out there (Let's not kid ourselves - despite the ending and its implications, the horror of this movie comes from Mia Farrow's struggles to deal with her unusual pregnancy), but when I was given more information about the film's path to the screen it seemed to take on more significance.  The culture of horror changed - if not forever, at least for the next decade - when Paramount Pictures was bold enough to let a young hotshot auteur turn a William Castle production into something that shook the mold of the horror film completely.

The Moment That Changes Everything:
From its opening, Rosemary's Baby is a different kind of horror film than we'd ever seen before.  Even today, almost 45 years later, there aren't many films like it out there.  But the final minutes change the movie again, and the restraint shown by Polanski during the finale is perhaps the most masterful touch of the entire film.

It Makes a Great Double Feature With:
At this point in this list, I'm really digging for double feature picks. After all, most of the best horror films are the best horror films because they stand above everything else out there.  So I'm going with the easy one here, and suggesting fans of Rosemary's Baby might want to pair it up with Polanski's other psychothriller about a blonde in peril, Repulsion.  It's a more surreal ride than Rosemary's - which seems like a tall task, but it is - and it's got some visuals that will drop jaws.

What It Means To Me:
I kind of feel like 19 is too low for Rosemary's Baby - especially since the next few spots contain a lot of slighter but more personal favorites.  It's a truly important piece of cinema that has to be one of the 10 most groundbreaking horror films out there. This film really did help to change the perception of horror when it was released (if only for a time), and it still packs a punch on repeat viewings. Rosemary's Baby belongs among the best horror has to offer, and it seems to get better every time I see it.

1 comment:

Marvin the Macabre said...

Okay, I need to watch this again. The only time I saw it was before I gained an appreciation for the historical aspect of horror. I felt like it was ruined for me, because I pretty much knew the ending in advance. But then, on first viewing, I hated Texas Chainsaw Massacre too.

I've been thinking of writing a column on horror elements in non-horror films, and Polanski's Macbeth is near the top of my list. Have you seen that one?