Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Castevets In Rosemary's Baby, Not The Sort of Neighbors You Want!

Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse move into the Dakota on Central Park West in New York. It's a nice building but there is no way they are prepared for what happens. Maybe if they had moved a block away, they'd have had a child and everything would have been a hell (ho ho) lot better than it was.

Guy is ambitious and fertile ground for the horrific Minnie and Roman Castevet's dastardly manipulations. See this seemingly pleasant couple serve something a lot more potent than the Neighborhood Watch Committee.

I can't imagine anyone not having seen the film, but I suppose there are those that haven't. If you haven't, you are missing out on a great film. The film is based on the bestselling novel by Ira Levin.

I happen to think this film and the novel it is based on, created its own sub-genre of horror. Now, Satan was really scary and so were those who served him. He wasn't Vincent Price hamming it up. (I loved Price, btw). It was something else entirely.

The film showed us power. The innocent, if they are trying to thwart Satan and his plans, are just picked off as Rosemary's friend is. This film is a giant leap beyond the black and white films, classic though they may be, that purported to show Satanism and devil rites.

The superb actors, Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer are the neighbors from hell (literally). They seem friendly, they look like they don't bite. They even look to be the kind of sweet, elderly couple you can leave your kids with! NO WAY!

Of course what makes this a great story is the realization that some people are easier pickings than others, easier for the forces of evil to gain a foothold that is. Rosemary (Mia Farrow) isn't like that. She just wants a child because she's in love with her husband. But the husband--played by John Cassavetes is a very willing vessel and so game for a pact. He wants to live in the Hills of Beverly and everything. In short, he's willing to do anything for stardom. That is sinister as hell, shocking really to see how far this man will go. He came across a lot scarier to me than anyone else in the film.

The Castevets (Minnie and Roman) are a riot as are their friends. They look like everyone's idea of pleasant elderly folk. That is brilliant! But make no mistake, the pace gets stepped up. And when Rosemary is desperate to protect her unborn child (her suspicions have led her to believe they want it for a sacrifice), that is for me, when the film is at its most potent.

Remember her schlepping around the heavy suitcase in order to get a new gynecologist? She never looked more vulnerable!

There's a great twist in the tale and between that and the superb direction by Roman Polanski, the film is great.

By the way, there is a scene where Rosemary is talking to an actor made blind conveniently so that her husband could take over the role. Polanski wanted her to look shocked and nervous. He didn't tell her that Tony Curtis was (non credited) the voice of the blind actor. Curtis and Farrow were good friends. She looked shocked because she didn't expect to hear his voice!That's a great director. The scene came off as Polanski intended. Perfect.

Great story, acting and directing and a lot of chills. What else do we need?

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