Just too demented for words, really!
Ann is a social worker who has quite a bit of experience in her field already. Now she finds herself appointed to a new family case and grows very eager to work with them. Why? She just stumbled upon a fully mature young man dressed in diapers and nursed like a baby by three women with some very odd family values.
What arguments can you use for recommending ‘The Baby’ to fans of peculiar cult horror cinema who are convinced that they have seen everything worthwhile already? Well, let’s try this: ‘The Baby’ is horrific without reverting to gory massacres or nauseating make-up effects. It’s extremely disturbing even though the premise is so far-fetched that it becomes totally implausible. And last but definitely not least, there’s an unpredictable twist at the end that you simply have to see in order to believe it! This is one of the most original low-budget exploitation movies of the ’70s, and it’s truly remarkable how writer/director Ted Post managed to make such a fascinating film out of such a demented basic premise!
‘The Baby’ starts out as the portrait of a dysfunctional family, but it gradually transforms into an atypical and thematic horror film with an uncanny atmosphere and frighteningly insane characters. Ann Gentry (Anjanette Corner), a professional social worker in her mid-30s, takes an interest in the odd family situation of the Wadsworths. The mother lives alone with her two adult daughters and… Baby! Baby (David Mooney) is a full-grown 21-year-old male, but Mrs. Wadsworth (Ruth Roman) and his sisters Germaine (Marianna Hill) and Alba (Susanne Zenor) treat him as an infant and claim that he’s mentally unable to function as a mature human being. Ann is convinced that the crazy women deliberately prevent Baby from developing normally, presumably because they don’t want him to grow like the careless and obnoxious men who abandoned them in the past. She quickly reverts to unorthodox methods in her attempts to rescue Baby and risks losing both her job (and likely even her life).
Especially considering the cinematic era ‘The Baby’ was made in, and also the low-budget production values, the basic concept of the film easily could have resulted in a trashy and ultimately perverted B-movie. Just imagine a grown man in a diaper surrounded by overly protective and deranged women! In the hands of certain other directors, say, Doris Wishman or Russ Meyer, ‘The Baby’ unquestionably would have been a non-stop series of sleazy images and shocking sex-rites. But surprisingly so, Ted Post approaches the unusual subject matter very professional and tasteful. There are only two controversially uncomfortable sequences, one involving a teenage babysitter and the other one being the fabulous climax.
Ted Post maintains an ominous atmosphere, in which the ludicrous shifts towards more grimness near the end. The Wadsworth women are downright creepy characters and the whole thing is just delightfully man-unfriendly! Fans of graphic bloodshed and gore may be a bit disappointed, but the horrific themes of the film are definitely unique enough to compensate. All the acting performances of the principal cast are splendid, but David Mooney deserves extra praise for his credible and undoubtedly complex depiction of Baby. It may not be ‘Citizen Kane’, but I guarantee that ‘The Baby’ will be one of the most unforgettable and curiously engaging films you’ll ever see.
Trailer on YouTube.