Prepare your shocked faces (Rosemary style), as today marks the 50th anniversary of the release of horror movie, Rosemary’s Baby.

Can you believe?

A few days ago, I published a post detailing the first time I watched 1978’s Halloween. As mentioned during that post, Halloween, was one of three films that helped me develop my interest with the horror genre. The other two films were Psycho (1960) and Rosemary’s Baby (1968).

As with Halloween, I remember quite clearly the first time I watched Rosemary’s Baby. The film was broadcast mid-week on BBC One, at a time that I deemed too late to stay up and watch it. This was during the late ’90s and as I was due at school the next day (I was in sixth form), so I opted to tape the movie and watch it back the following evening.

So, the next day, after I got back from school (and had eaten my dinner), I took myself off to my bedroom, switched off the lights and pressed play on my VCR. Just like Halloween, Rosemary’s Baby grabbed me from the opening moment and I was hooked.

For the next couple of hours I was terrified by what was unfolding on screen. I was also captivated by the performance given by actress Ruth Gordon who played Rosemary’s calculating next door neighbour, Minnie Castevet.

rosemarys-baby

Image: ©Paramount Pictures

There are performances and then there are PERFORMANCES.

I don’t need to say it, as it’s been said countless times before, but Gordon’s screen presence, her delivery, everything about what she does in the movie is up there with the best of ’em. Never let anyone tell you any different.

Anyway, I continued with the movie all the way up to the final scene…. and that’s when the VHS tape stopped and began to rewind. A moment of confusion came across me, until I realised the cassette was rewinding because the VHS tape hadn’t been long enough to record the whole movie and was now on automatic rewind!

I’d sat through the whole film, barely taking my eyes off the screen and now at the last hurrah, the bloody tape had run out!

Argghhhh!!!

I couldn’t believe it. Rosemary’s Baby was a great movie – clearly a cut above the rest – and here I was, mouth wide open getting increasingly angry at the fact I didn’t know how it was going to end!

It’s worth pointing out that this all happened during a period of time when I didn’t really use the internet and Google searches were not on my radar. So, in order to find out what happened next, I needed another copy of the movie – fast!

ruth_gordon

Image: ©Paramount Pictures

The next day, I asked my mother (she probably doesn’t remember) to pop into town and pick me up a copy of the movie on VHS. I couldn’t do it myself as the movie was an 18 certificate and I wasn’t 18.

Even when I was 18 I looked about 12, so I would have never managed to get that movie under my own steam. Sigh… the problems of looking youthful. 😉

The following evening I re-watched the entire movie and when I reached the point where the tape clicked off, I discovered I’d missed all of 30 seconds. Yep, just 30 seconds.

Did I care?

Nope!

I loved Rosemary’s Baby the first time I watched it (minus those 30 seconds), I loved it the second time I watched it (with those 30 seconds) and I continue to love it now. I can’t quite believe it’s 50 years old!

I appreciate that some people take issue with Rosemary’s Baby, because of how they feel about director Roman Polanksi. This I completely understand.

When I first watched Rosemary’s Baby I knew nothing of the situation surrounding Polanski and while this does create problems with how I view the movie now, it doesn’t change the fact that this was a milestone movie for me. Sometimes sucky people do sucky things and make great stuff too.

Should we dismiss great movies because the people involved do wrong? I don’t know the answer to that – I wish I did.

For now, on it’s 50th birthday I raise a glass to one of my all-time favourite horror movies. I think another viewing is in order.