Hello Geeks and Ghouls, Famous Monster here. Well, it’s finally October and you know what that means? Breast Cancer Awareness 5Ks? Good guess. Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Delicious, but no. Halloween? YES. Horror movies? DOUBLE YES!
Welcome to 31 Days of Horror, where I’ll cover at least two noteworthy horror films a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 62+ scary movies perfect for a cold, dark October night. Be sure to visit Geeks of Doom every day this month for a double-shot of chills and thrills!
Today’s one-two punch of psychological horror features Roman Polanski‘s 1968 film, Rosemary’s Baby, and Nicolas Roeg‘s underrated 1973 British classic, Don’t Look Now. Satanic cults, supernatural sisters, and more await you!
Written and directed by Roman Polanski, 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby is a psychological satanic horror film based on Ira Levin‘s best-selling novel of the same name.
The film stars Mia Farrow as Rosemary Woodhouse, a pregnant woman who fears her husband, Guy (John Cassavetes), has been recruited by their eccentric new neighbors into a satanic cult. The ‘satanic panic’ sets in as Rosemary suspects Guy of promising their unborn child as a human sacrifice in the cult’s ancient rituals in exchange for a successful acting career.
That Creepy Scene:
Minnie (Ruth Gordon) brings Rosemary some of her famous homemade chocolate mousse. Rosemary finds it has a peculiar, chalky after-taste and covertly throws it away after a few Satan-lovin’ spoonfuls. Shortly thereafter, she has a dizzy spell and passes out.
Rosemary experiences what she believes to be a strange dream in which a group of naked people surround her bed while she is being raped by a demonic presence. The dream is so vivid that she screams, “This is no dream – this is really happening!” When Rosemary wakes up, she finds scratches all over her body. Her husband explains that he had sex with her while she was unconscious…because he didn’t want to pass up an opportunity for her to conceive.
“Satan is his father and his name is Adrian. He shall overthrow the mighty and lay waste their temples. He shall redeem the despised and wreak vengeance in the name of the burned and the tortured. Hail, Adrian! Hail, Satan!”
On August 8, 1969, Roman Polanski’s wife, actress Sharon Tate, was two weeks from giving birth. She entertained two friends, actresses Joanna Pettet and Barbara Lewis, for lunch before going out for drinks at her favorite restaurant, El Coyote, with friends Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, and Abigail Folger. The group returned to Tate’s home around 10:30 p.m., where they were murdered by members of Charles Manson’s ‘Family.’
Before authorities evaluated the crime scene evidence and determined Manson’s psycho posse (Tex Watson, Pat Krenwinkle, Susan Atkins, and Linda Kasabian) were responsible, Roman Polanski was initially linked to the brutal murders. Because of the connection to occultism in his film, Rosemary’s Baby, Polanski was a suspect in the murder of his pregnant wife.
Of course, Polanski wasn’t involved – he was in London working on a film, scheduled to fly back to the States in time for his wife’s due date – but the fact that he made made Rosemary’s Baby was enough to get people thinking. That’s the power of cinema – the power of storytelling. You’ve heard similar stories regarding the making of films like The Exorcist, where the production was supposedly cursed by a demonic presence.
Polanski’s film had that kind of effect on people – people thought it was pure evil, that the man who had made it was plagued by darkness – and maybe he is, but that’s another story altogether. Rosemary’s Baby manages to terrify without shocking violence or excessive blood and gore. It is a film that focuses on gender issues centering on marriage and pregnancy, and even abusive relationships – all in the guise of a “I sold my son to Satan for fame and fortune” cult ritual. There’s an unshakeable darkness and sense of paranoia in Polanski’s film that gets under your skin – similar to his earlier work, Repulsion.
I consider Rosemary’s Baby as part of the ‘Satanic Panic’ film trilogy that includes William Friedkin’s 1973 classic The Exorcist and Richard Donner’s 1976 antichrist film, The Omen. Three films concerned with either the practice of Satanism, demonic children and pregnancies, possession, and the Anti-Christ. It remains one of the all-time scariest movies, and one of the most well-crafted horror ever made. I would highly recommend picking up Rosemary’s Baby on Criterion Collection Blu-Ray when it hits stores on October 30th.
Directed by Nicolas Roeg, Don’t Look Now stars Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland as a married couple who travel to Venice following the recent accidental death of their daughter. An independent British and Italian co-production adapted from the short story by Daphne du Maurier, Don’t Look Now is a beyond unsettling, bizarre film that has come to be a definitive ’70s british horror classic.
when John Baxter (Sutherland) accepts a commission to restore a church in Venice, he has an ominous encounter with two poisonous sisters, one of whom claims to be clairvoyant and informs them that their daughter is trying to contact them from beyond the grave and warn them of danger. Baxter dismisses their claims at first, but starts to experience mysterious sightings himself…
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