DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

THE BABY (director/writer: Ted Post; screenwriter: Abraham Polsky; cinematographer: Michael Margulies; editors:  Dick Wormell/Bob Crawford; music:  Gerald Fried; cast: Anjanette Comer (Ann Gentry), Ruth Roman (Mrs. Wadsworth), Marianna Hill (Germaine Wadsworth), Suzanne Zenor (Alba Wadsworth), Tod Andrews (Doctor), Michael Pataki (Dennis), Beatrice Manley Blau (Judith), David Manzy (Baby); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Abraham Polsky/Milton Polski; Quintet Films; 1973)

"Sadistic horror pic that has achieved classic cult status for being so irreverently camp."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Ted Post ("Hang 'Em High"/"Magnum Force"/"Beneath the Planet of the Apes"), a veteran TV director, is co-writer with the  author of the story and co-producer Abe Polsky, and is the director of this unpleasant but tantalizingly bizarre low-budget sadistic horror pic that has achieved classic cult status for being so irreverently camp. The shrill over-the-top performances by most of the cast and the one wooden performance by Suzanne Zenor are not the most annoying thing about this weirdo pic, that's reserved for showing actual footage of mentally disabled kids to exploit them.

Well-meaning comely social worker, Ann Gentry (Anjanette Comer), requests the assignment as the new case worker for a mentally challenged man-child, named Baby (David Manzy), under the care of his man-hating evil mother Mrs. Wadsworth (Ruth Roman). The boozy mom dresses her 21-year-old retarded son in diapers and keeps him in a crib. Baby can't walk and communicates only through baby gurgles. Mrs. Wadsworth's hubby splits after Baby was born, and the loony over-protective volatile mom cares for the man-child with her two disturbed over-sexed daughters--the older daughter, an aspiring model, Germaine (Marianna Hill), and the younger sis, an amateur tennis player named Alba (Suzanne Zenor).

The lonely Ann tries to help the child get better treatment, but she has too many serious psychological issues of her own to overcome to handle things rationally, such as spending endless nights at home with her mother-in-law grieving over her architect husband while watching slides of happier days.

Things turn increasingly ludicrous and lurid as we observe Alba torture Baby with a cattle prod and the other sis incestuously cuddle up with him in the crib. But the strange pic keeps our attention even as it descends into a demented psychodrama and we're rewarded with a really unique surprise ending that should be disturbing to more than a few viewers and be especially fulfilling to those fans of shocking freak films.

REVIEWED ON 1/26/2014       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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