'The Baby: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Anjanette Comer, Ruth Roman, Marianna Hill, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1973) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: A social worker, still reeling from the loss of her architect husband, investigates the eccentric, psychedelic Wadsworth Family, consisting of a mother, two daughters, and an adult son with the apparent mental capacity of an infant.
Blu-ray Verdict: Lovingly, and with some ease (albeit an under the radar kinda B-movie), 'The Baby' joins a select club of really flaky little films from the poofy-hair-on-guys era, early '70s to early '80s.
To my mind, the best of these was 'Night Warning', William Shatner's wigged-out 'Impulse' is another, the MST'd 'Touch of Satan' is another. Indeed, 'The Baby' and 'Impulse' even share the services of the wondrous Ruth Roman, who in 'The Baby' looks more than ever like Victor Mature in full drag!
All these feature somebody driving around in a Dodge Dart or a Maverick and plot twists that make you ask, "What were these people ON?" But that's ok, for that's exactly what the genre at that time asked for, of course!
Ted Post was already in his late fifties when he did 'The Baby', so the lame direction can't be written off as a young director learning his craft. Some callous types might just blurt out that it just plain sucks, especially when Anjanette Comer stands around screeching and flapping her hands for emphasis like she's at a community-theater audition!
But I see it differently, for Post knew what he wanted to get across in each scene, so did his actors, but with the small, modest budget they obviously had, well, you end up getting what the studio executives wanted rather than the greatness of the director, sadly.
Anyway, as for the film itself, 'The Baby' is a right royal hoot from start to finish, regardless of any lame acting portrayals. This was pretty much the entire career of the hard-working young actor (David Mooney) trying to make us believe he's a teenager operating at a 9-month-old level, trust me!
Ha, they also had the nerve to dub in the sounds of a real baby coming from his adult voice-box, but trust me when I say listening back to it today, I don't think it flew back then either!
In fact, the film wastes no time introducing us to the title character, Baby, a grown man who never mentally advanced past infant state. His mother is an overbearing alcoholic who refuses to let him grow up, and his two older, perverse sisters share the abuse: Alba is a sado-masochist who loves to shock Baby (against her mother's wishes) with a cattle prod, and Germaine sneaks into Baby's nursery at night (ergo, the film implies an incestuous sexual relationship with him).
This sick family is challenged by Ann Gentry, a social worker who believes that Baby is capable of intellectual and psychological development but has been reinforced to stay in a regressed state by the abuse of his mother and sisters. The film is an intense battle between the two parties, both of whom will go to any lengths to "win" Baby.
Trust me, this movie is totally strange and uniquely disturbing; and I mean that in a good way. The image of the baby playing ball and trying to stand up will be forever burned into my psyche (as it will yours once you have viewed it, believe me!
But there's just enough here to make it worthwhile to stick it out for the snapper ending! Anybody who says they guessed where this was going is lying! Oh boy are their pants on fire! Again, it's no 'Night Warning', but if you've seen 'Night Warning' and you need another sip from the same bucket, it'll do rather nicely! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
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