Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Baby (1973)

"The Baby" is a very weird 'cult classic' (their words, not mine) about a lady social worker who interferes with the matriarch's hold on a supremely dysfunctional family. The object of social worker Ann Gentry (Anjanette Comer)'s obsessions is 'Baby,' a full-grown man (or 'grown-ass man' to quote Will Smith in the so-so "Men in Black" sequel) who is kept in a crib and clad in diapers.

   Ann seems to believe that the seemingly mentally handicapped fellow is simply the otherwise functional victim of too much negative reinforcement during his development (bad baby! Stop standing up!") To his sister Alba (Susanne Zenor,) Baby is a scapegoat, to his other sister, Germaine (Marianna Hill,) he is a plaything. But what exactly does the seemingly wholesome Ann want with Baby? What secret lies under the surface of her white bread exterior?

   Trust me, this otherwise forgettable schlock-fest is all worth it for the explosively trashy end twist. I never saw that coming. Otherwise, this is an underwhelming distortion of maternal instincts and needs. Baby's mama wants desperately to coddle him, to protect him from the big bad world, but in doing so only makes it clear the nightmare of overprotection she's inflicted on him- Hell is in this house.

   David Mooney's performance as the titular 'baby' is supremely unsettling- I'm quite positive that Mooney's voice has been replaced by the cooing and crying sounds of an actual infant, and it's nearly impossible to tell which of his antics are those of a child and which are the cravings of libidinous man.

    At times in this strange story, I wondered if 'Baby''s limitations were all an act and if he was going to show his true colors on the unsuspecting Ann. Other times I thought Ann was pulling a fast one on the family and wanted Baby for some weird infantile sexual purpose. The scene of Mrs. Wadsworth ('Baby''s mother) rubbing his legs down with lotion was REALLY creepy. I was like... really? Who does that?

   Overall, "The Baby" is an interesting exercise in trash filmmaking, but not really worth watching twice unless you get your kicks watching grown men toddle around and attempt to breastfeed off of attractive women. You know who you are. And I don't even want to know. On the other hand, for the rest of you, once might be too much. So long! Keep visiting, readers!

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