LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY’S BABY is not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination; it’s every bit as clunky as its title. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t freak me the hell out as a child though. As I recall, the first twenty minutes were horrifying to me, and then I’m pretty sure I bailed to hide under some covers somewhere. Little did I know as a kid that if I had just stuck around past the scene that caused me trauma, I would have probably found that the feeling of boredom had eclipsed any anxiety I was experiencing. Normally I’d watch a movie again before I’d dare write an opinion about it but in this case, I watched it about ten years ago and have decided that I’ve suffered enough. I’m going to practice self-care and simply watch the scene in question and hopefully, I won’t get too many of the facts wrong.
The eternally wonderful Patty Duke has replaced Mia Farrow as Rosemary Woodhouse and if there’s one thing I can’t complain about in this movie it’s the casting. I mean, when Sidney Blackmer couldn’t return to play baddie Roman Castevet (due to his death in 1973), they nabbed one of my all time favorites, Ray Milland! This is a movie that boasts Ruth Gordon, Tina Louise and a young Stephen Mchattie so let’s give credit where’s it due: the casting is impeccable! Sure, this ramshackle flick is all over the place but it’s not that much worse than the literary sequel the original author (Ira Levin) would come up with decades later. I guesss the idea of a sequel was cursed from the get-go.
Anyway, Rosemary (Duke) is traveling cross-country, always on the run trying to keep her little kid away from the Satanists who want him to be evil and destroy the world (probably). The kid gets in a fight with some bullies (as Rosemary is having one of her famous breakdowns on a payphone) and he zaps them with glowing demon eyes (must be nice). Luckily, Tina Louise who has an awesome camper helps them out and hides them away. Eventually, she gains their trust and helps them hail down a bus in the middle of nowhere in order to escape. Rosemary makes the dumb move of getting on the bus first, and the door slams behind her! The bus drives away with tricky betrayer Tina Louise clutching the kid! Rosemary runs to the back of the bus and does the frozen behind glass scream with clawed hands screaming “Nooooo” routine (again with this)! But wait, it’s worse…she goes to the front of the empty bus to plead with the driver and there is none! Nobody is driving the hell bus!
OK, this all hits me on a bunch of levels. We’ve got the Satanists, the two-faced beauty, the vehicle with no driver, the trapped behind glass, the pointless scream, and the being torn away from your parent(s). And this is a seventies made-for-TV movie so you know the insane diabolical musical score is not helping either. It’s an incredible scare (for me anyway) in a lackluster flick that mostly just rots on the vine directly following this harrowing sequence. It’s also a fantastic example of the fact that it doesn’t matter how good the movie is when you’re talking about Kindertrauma, a scare can find you anywhere.
I have to laugh because boredom is exactly what I felt when watching this as a teen on the late late show back in the 80s. I’m a huge fan of the novel Rosemary’s Baby and love the original film. I was excited when I learned there was a sequel and waited patiently for it to show up on TV. My youthful expectations were quickly dashed when I actually watched it – or tried to watch it anyway. Like I said it was the late late show and I fell asleep before it ended, more from boredom than it being past my bedtime. I also love Levin’s The Stepford Wives and the TV movie sequels to that one are at least entertaining in a goofy, campy way. LWHTRB is just bad. Like you say maybe the idea of a sequel to Rosemary’s Baby is just cursed (as much as I enjoy Levin Son of Rosemary is pretty terrible.)
It really is terrible. It’s astonishing that they couldn’t come up with any better ideas. Maybe if Andrew stayed a child throughout it could have worked in an OMEN type way? Anything would be better than the direction they went.
I had to stop reading SOR in the middle. I just couldn’t take it anymore. It actually made me feel a profound embarrassment so I had to stop!
And yeah the original book is brilliant! Same with The Stepford wives and you’re right all of those sequels are at least fun!
Still, this bus scene got me as a kid. It might be better as a short film though! Just that sense of being trapped and pulled from your kid/mom seems so horrifying and the empty bus I presume just driving around endlessly. Yikes. I’m a sucker for that supernatural seventies stuff.
I never sought this one out as I never cared for the original Rosemary’s Baby, not to mention that most made for TV movies are terrible. Aside from The Exorcist, the 70s infatuation with all things satanic never appealed to me. I can only really speak about the original Rosemary’s Baby; not now nor ever having partaken of any semitic religion and knowing what I do about satanism/satanists, these themes never held any power over my imagination. The real life satanists are goofy and more objects of humour and disdain than fear and mystery and awe, so I could never take the pretend ones seriously, either. Satan himself doesn’t hold a fear or fascination in my mind either. Additionally, the character’s were all unlikable, much like the producers, actors and director themselves and so I could never sympathize with Rosemary’s plight. I much prefer The Seventh Victim (1943) or any of Kenneth Anger’s films for my “left hand path” fix. Another good one is The Haunting of Julia (Aka Full Circle-1977) although I guess it’s technically not a “Satan(ic) film”.
I love, love, love The Haunting of Julia. It’s one of my favorite horror films of the 70s. Nothing from Satan in it, but Rosemary (Mia Farrow) is.
Yeah, The Haunting of Julia is a good one. It definitely gets lost in the mix of the big satan/possession films of the late 60’s and 70’s. There are quite a few that suffer the same fate. For instance, I don’t like The Omen, I much prefer something like The Possession of Joel Delaney (1972) or The Initiation of Sarah (1978)- which is one of the few TV movies I like, thanks in no small part to my having fallen in love with Kay Lenz the first time I saw her in Breezy (1973). The Evil (1978) is another good one which goes largely unnoticed and features my favorite portrayal of the devil. Two other “satanic” films which are very cool are The Car (1977) and EvilSpeak (1981) the latter of which has some of the best head chopping scenes ever committed to celluloid.