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LOOK WHAT'S HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY'S BABY (1976)
Starring: Stephen McHattie, Ruth Gordon, Ray Milland, Patty Duke, George Maharis, and Broderick Crawford
Not that you should care, but spoilers ahead
Well, up until recently I had absolutely no idea there had been a sequel to 1968's ROSEMARY'S BABY. But last night, I was surprised that a made for TV sequel had been produced twenty-five years ago, and decided to watch. And, well, what can I honestly say? After watching ROSEMARY'S BABY several times throughout the years, I have grown to admire it as one of the greatest horror films of our time. There where no dark and dreary scenes, there where no boo scenes and there where no little demons popping up and causing trouble. It was a very brightly lit movie with a main protagonist who may or may not be allowing her suspicions about her odd neighbors get the better of her. Are they witches out to claim her unborn child? Is her husband part of the coven? We're never quiet sure until the final five minutes of the film, where the startling revelation of what has been happening is finally discovered. It was a beautiful exercise in tension and fear, because we could relate to Rosemary (played superbly by Mia Farrow). It wasn't a conventional horror film with blood and gore, it took its time creating a claustrophobic atmosphere, and the payoff was amazing.
But all great movies have a problem. If successful enough, there will usually be a sequel, and the problem with those responsible with bringing us these follow ups is that they are making a mad attempt of recapturing the mood and style of the first film, since the formula has proven success. That is not always the case, as THE GODFATHER, PART II, ALIENS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK has proven. They expanded on the original stories, they didn't try to recycle them. But here, with LOOK WHAT'S HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY'S BABY, the film cheaply attempts to create the same dread and terror the original film created, and no wonder it was a made for TV movie.
SPOILER FOR ROSEMARY'S BABY Well, years have passed since Rosemary decided that little Adrian, the son of Satan, was indeed her son since she carried him for nine months and went through painstaking extremes to protect him. END OF SPOILER FOR THE FILM Always making attempts to raise him into a good hearted person, she takes little Adrian away from the coven (here, for some oddball reason, it's called a tribe), and leaves the Dakota building (in the first film it's a lavish New York apartment, here it looks like a hotel and is surrounded by grass and trees). But the coven knows every move Rosemary makes, and... well, this is going to be hard to explain. While at a gas station in the middle of nowhere, a woman becomes possessed by the coven, gains Rosemary's trust, makes her believe that there is a bus heading out of town, and then drives them to a bus stop. But once Rosemary gets on the bus, the doors shut tight and the bus takes off, where, to Rosemary's terror, there is no bus driver. The woman takes Adrian and raises him as her own. The films skips ahead many years (though is still stuck in the 70's), and Adrian, now an adult, tries to go against the will of the coven. When there is a failed attempt of having Satan take over his body, he ends up in a nuthouse after seeing his friend murdered (I'm still calling it as I saw it). He gains the trust of one of the nurses in about two scenes, she helps him escape but as it turns out, she's a devil worshipper to! She drugs him and he impregnates her, because for some reason, the coven has decided that the grandchild will make a better candidate for their diabolical plans. And there you have it.
I think the biggest shocker is that over four Oscar winning actors appear in it. Patty Duke (1962's Best Supporting Actress winner for THE MIRACLE WORKER) appears in the first fifteen minutes as Rosemary. 1949's Best Actor winner for ALL THE KING'S MEN Broderick Crawford has one short scene as the town sheriff. 1945's Best Actor winner for THE LOST WEEKEND Ray Milland takes on the role of Roman Castevet (played brilliantly by Sidney Blackmer in the first film), and the biggest shocker, Ruth Gordon, reprising her Oscar winning role as Minnie Castevet, the loud, flamboyant nosey neighbor from the first film.
But this movie is the absolute pits, and goes from one incoherent moment to the other. George Maharis makes a pathetic attempt at recreating John Cassavetes original performance as Guy Woodhouse (here is a successful movie star), and all the performances for that matter are pretty silly to watch. Gordon, a wonderful actress and screenwriter in her glory years, is reduced to parodying a performance she made famous (at one point she visits Maharis in Hollywood and complains that she hasn't met Charlton Heston yet), and it just pained me to watch it. She has absolutely nothing to do, and the flair she gave the character the first time around is gone. But all the movie accomplishes is having us appreciate the original film more, so it can't be all that bad. There isn't much more to say. The acting, directing, writing, pacing, and climax where all horrendously bad. There is not one redeeming thing going for the film (and for a laugh, it tries to recreate the famous rape scene from the first film). It's just sad to watch. Stick with the original, and count your blessings if you haven't seen this.
My Grade: D-