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.