Reviews | Written by Andrew Pollard 03/10/2018

THE BABY (1973)

Those folks over at Arrow Video have been making a habit of bringing old favourites back to HD life, and throwing an abundance of special features in for good measure. And now, Arrow has turned their attention to Ted Post’s 1973 effort, The Baby. So, let’s take a look at what’s on offer here.

For those not familiar with The Baby, let’s just say it’s a unique beast. You see, the Wadsworth family – led by Ruth Roman’s matriarch – have a 21-year-old baby known as, err, Baby. As in, goo-goo noises, nappies, crawling, baby food, and the full shebang. Anjanette Comer’s Ann Gentry is a social worker tasked with exploring the strange case of Baby, and once she realises that something isn’t right, all hell begins to break lose. Before you know it, the Wadsworths and Ann are butting heads over what’s right for the mentally-challenged Baby – with each party willing to go to extreme measures to do what they think is right for this manchild.

To discuss any further plot details would likely veer towards spoiler territory, but let’s just be clear that this is a film that doesn’t waste any time in setting its stall out as something to shock. Not to worry, mind, for this isn’t a picture that is full of shocks, shocks, and more shocks, all for the sake of shocks. Instead, The Baby uses its twists and turns sparingly but with maximum impact. And trust us, if you’ve never seen this movie, it has certain moments that will leave your jaw agape.

If you’re coming in with fresh eyes, The Baby may seem very much of its time and could have you asking some very valid questions involving, well, logic. But that aside, this is a twisted film that messes with its audience at a moment’s notice; lullabies a-playing as brutal acts play out on the screen. Is it a masterpiece? Not quite. Is it worthy of the infamous tag that some place on it? Again, not quite. This is, however, a film that is certainly worth a one-off watch or worthy of a revisit if you’re one of those wishing to see if this is as bizarre as you remember. And with a runtime of less that 90 minutes, The Baby is an effort that grabs you by the seat of your jumpsuit and rarely lets you go. And special praise must go to David Manzy as the titular character, making the harder-than-it-may-sound task of playing an infant seem like a breeze. Then we have to mention Ruth Roman, though, with her on fierce form as Mrs Wadsworth. Part caring mother, part tough gun moll of yesteryear.

Of course, with any of Arrow’s releases over the past several years, a lot of the attention here will be on the bonus material included. On that front, the Down Will Come Baby retrospective with Fangoria and Blumhouse alum Rebekah McKendry is a highlight, with that taking a trip down memory lane and looking at what makes The Baby such a one-off feature. The new chat track from critic Tom Crawford is an interesting accompaniment, and the archive interviews are similarly fun to check out.

All in all, The Baby is a movie that all genre fans should watch at least once. Even if it will leave you feeling a tad uncomfortable when all is said and done.

Special Features: New audio commentary with Travis Crawford / Down Will Come Baby new retrospective / Archival audio interviews / Trailer / Collectors’ booklet

THE BABY / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: TED POST / SCREENPLAY: ABE POLSKY / STARRING: DAVID MANZY, ANJANETTE COMER, RUTH ROMAN, MARIANNA HILL, SUZANNE ZENOR, ERIN O’REILLY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW