DVD Review: “The Baby”
Released By: Image Entertainment
Release Date: January 25, 2000
Number of Discs: 1
Approximate Running Time: 85 Minutes
Special Features: None
Suggested Price: $14.99
The Baby is a low key horror film from 1973 directed by Ted Post, a seasoned veteran of such theatrical features as Beneath the Planet of the Apes and Hang ‘Em High, as well as classic television series like Combat! and The Twilight Zone. Unfortunately, Mr. Post was one of those directors who seems to have never turned any job down and that’s how he ended helming less noted projects like Ark II, Future Cop, Night Slaves and the cinematic oddity presented here. Oddity is a very apt description for The Baby, which stars Ruth Roman, in the declining years of her career, as the demented matriarch of a creepy female-centric household. The family’s sole male member is a crib-bound gurgling infant who just happens to be in his 20’s (insert diaper joke here)! When a seemingly well-meaning social worker takes too much of an interest in Baby, his family turns deadly in their attempts to keep him.
The Fanboy Factor:
This film has attained a cult following over the years thanks to many late night television screenings. This is probably the optimal viewing situation for The Baby since the film seems more like it was made for television than theaters and Ted Post was doing a lot of TV work around this time. In fact, aside from some very brief nudity and perverse sexual situations, The Baby would be right at home as an ABC TV Movie of the Week! This film has creepiness to spare and an unsettling tone that permeates the entire running time. Every character is mercenary and twisted to some degree. Abe Polsky, a predominately TV writer who did this screenplay, tosses in elements of incest, sadomasochism, age regression, mental abuse, and just about every other psychoanalytical dysfunction you can imagine. The cast is above average, especially Roman who deserved better than this or films like Day of the Animals and the William Shatner scene-chewer Impulse in her later years. David Manzy, who went on to many other roles, including bit parts in a couple of Disney films, also does a credible job in the tough part of the man-child Baby. His performance is undermined, however, by the continual use of real baby sounds that clearly are not coming from him.
The transfer and sound on this Image Entertainment DVD are better than any print of this film I remember seeing. This version appears to be uncut, which was an eye opener in some scenes when you only remember watching this film on television. Sadly there are absolutely no extras on the DVD and I would have loved to have seen a theatrical trailer for this film.
The Bottom Line:
The Baby is a quirky little 70’s gem that goes to great lengths to remind you that they don’t make films like this any more and it’s up to the individual viewer to decide if that is a good thing or not (I say not!). This DVD is currently out of print but used copies can easily be found on the secondary market for under $10.