The Baby is a twisted, psychedelic nightmare of suburban depravity; a “smarmy enterprise that might have made a good Movie of the Week had it been stripped of some of its more questionable and disturbing aspects.” Now that is one way to start a review. You can almost guess what I coming with that introduction. The film centers on a grown man kept in an infantile state by his harridan mother and equally pernicious sisters. “The Baby” is inarguably shocking, but it’s frequently the kind of shock that comes from watching absolutely terrible behavior and situations and not being able to do much about it. Of course, you could walk out but that is no fun.
Ann Gentry (Anjanette Comer) is a social worker that, as the film opens, tears up as she looks at a scrapbook featuring photos of her family. It’s obvious that some sort of trauma has hurt Ann’s husband, as she discusses with her mother- in-law Judith (Beatrice Manley). That particular plot point is left unaddressed once Ann takes on her latest clients, a wealthy Los Angeles family known as the Wadworths. Mrs. Wadsworth (Ruth Roman) welcomes Ann to her mansion and seems to have little unease in talking about her supposedly mentally impaired adult son, a “child” who has always gone by the name Baby (David Mooney, known then as David Manzy). Baby doesn’t walk or talk, is kept in a crib most of the time and wears diapers. This intrigues Ann.
It’s difficult to argue that the film isn’t camp. But there’s something here that undermines camp humor and this is the disturbing imagery, including one sister who uses a cattle prod on the baby, a babysitter who breastfeeds him, and assorted other unseemly activities (including incest).
A power struggle eventually ensues between Ann and the Wadworths, with Baby’s future on the line. The film finally delivers chills in its final act, when Ann’s true motive for being interested in Baby is finally revealed. It’s here that the film for a moment rises above some truly questionable material to offer some more traditional and effective scares. But the whole business is purely without taste.
This story sounds somewhat familiar, and that is because this is not the only time this story has been told. I don’t want to give too much more of the plot away, but if you’re seeing this for the first time, you’re in for a surprise.
The film has some very morbid scenes. A babysitter goes to Baby’s room to comfort the full-sized infant and he forcefully starts feasting on her breast. She doesn’t reject him, and when the family bursts into the room, Mrs. Wadsworth starts whipping the hell out of the poor girl, leaving her with a mouth full of blood. Other sick scenes have Baby being punished with a long shock stick, and Hill is seen disrobing and getting into Baby’s crib in the middle of the night. Some of the scenes with Baby resemble a tasteless skit. It’s the tension between Comer’s character and the trio of crazy females that make this film interesting. Also, you might never forget the ending.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
1.85:1 and 1.33:1 versions of the feature
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original uncompressed PCM mono audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Brand new audio commentary by Travis Crawford
Down Will Come Baby a new retrospective with film professor Rebekah McKendry
Tales from the Crib archival audio Interview with director Ted Post
Baby Talk archival audio Interview with Star David Mooney
Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by The Twins of Evil
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector s booklet featuring new writing by Kat Ellinger