Severin Films // 1973 // 84 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // July 1st, 2011
Horror is his formula.
Once upon a time, there was a character in a movie named Lula Fortune who, in a time of crisis, told her lover Sailor Ripley, "Sail, this world is wild at heart and weird on top." There are few films that embody this idea more than The Baby. It's a marvel this was ever made, and to see that it's rated PG is simply outrageous. Severin Films, once again, brings the weirdest of exploitation to market, and this one's a keeper.
Anna Gentry (Anjanette Comer, Guns for San Sebastian), a young and dedicated social worker, has been given a case that will test her resolve. When she goes out to meet the family, she finds Ms. Wadsworth (Ruth Roman, Strangers on a Train), her two lusty daughters, and Baby (David Manzy), an adult man in a diaper and a crib. He acts like an infant, but Anna sees real potential in him. His family, though, seems perfectly happy with his condition and, although he quickly shows signs of improvement, they are extremely resistant to seeing him helped, and take increasingly extreme measures to make sure Baby remains a baby.
The Baby really takes the cake. I read the description and thought that there was no way the reality could approach the insanity of the copy, but it goes even farther. In the beginning, it pretends to be a social issues drama, but it's actually as far from that as it possibly could be. After the few minutes have passed, we've already witnessed a grown man gooing like an infant, a babysitter who feels compelled to nurse him, who then gets beat to death for her trouble, and a pair of sisters who use him for their own purposes. By then, it's clear that there's no commentary here, only crazy. While The Baby is classified as horror, anything resembling that only occurs in the final moments, which are a freak-out as much as anything else in the picture; plus, it comes out of nowhere, leaving us with a truly bizarre non-resolution that fits into the nature of the film, and makes for a weirdly satisfying conclusion.
Director Ted Post (Magnum Force) was no master of his field, but he has made plenty of A-list films. Likewise, there are more than a few actors with credits beyond exploitation, including Ruth Roman and Michael Pataki (Easy Rider), so it certainly seems like the producers thought this was some kind of high end flick, at least on a certain level. It amazes me that a film like this could ever have been made. Still, I'm glad it was; it's rare to find a film this strange, but here we are, diapered man, incest subplots, horrific violence, and all.
Severin is one of the very best labels for cult films, and they show once again why with their release of The Baby. As I've come to expect from them, their work on the image transfer is impeccable, with a gorgeous image that surely looks better than it has since it first came out. The print is exceptionally clean, with only a few hints of its age. The colors look great and the grain structure is basically perfect. The sound is nice and clean, but a mono mix only gets so dynamic. There is no noise, though, and the dialog sounds good. For extras, we have a trailer and a couple of interviews. The first is with Ted Post and, even though he admits to not having remembered the film when he was approached about it, he has a pretty good recall of the production. Given that earlier caveat, however, it's entirely possible that he made it all up. The second, much shorter piece is with David Manzy, now known as David Mooney. He no longer acts; he's a teacher, and his students found the evidence of his role in this film online, as kids like to do. I have a hard time imagining much continuing respect once they've seen him in a diaper and, once one class knows it, so does every other class and he'll never get away from it.
Issues of good and bad don't really apply to The Baby. The disc is very nice so, if the idea behind this picture doesn't completely turn you off, you'll probably like it, so there's no excuse for not picking up The Baby.
This film beyond judgment. Case dismissed.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Severin Films
* 1.66:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 1973
MPAA Rating: Rated PG