• Baby, The



    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: 6/28/2011
    Director: Ted Post
    Cast: Anjanette Comer, Marianna Hill, Susanne Zenor, David Manzy, Ruth Roman
    Year: 1973
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    The Movie:

    Directed by none other than Ted Post, the same man who gave us Magnum Force among other big time Hollywood productions, The Baby follows Mrs. Wadsworth (Ruth Roman) and her bizarre family made up of her two foxy daughters – Germaine (Marianna Hill) and Alba (Suzanne Zenor) – and her son, Baby (David Manzy), who is not quite right and who wears diapers and lives in a crib. He crawls around the house goo-gooing and ga-gaging and drinks out of a baby bottle – but he is a fully grown man. Oddly enough, his mother and two sisters are fine with his current state and don’t show any interest in trying to get him any help or getting him any treatment, this in spite of the efforts of a few well meaning social workers who have come and gone over the years.

    The latest social worker to be assigned to the Wadsworth case is a kindly young woman named Ann Gentry (Anjanette Comer), who feels that Baby deserves a better life than he’s getting at home and who wants to take him to a clinic for therapy, but of course, there’s no way Mrs. Wadsworth is going to allow that. In fact, when Ann persists, Mrs. Wadsworth basically kicks her out of the house and tells her never to return. The old lady softens up after some time passes and invites Ann to Baby’s birthday party, to which she arrives only to find some very non-kid-friendly activity going on. It turns out that Ann’s been set up, however, as she soon finds herself drugged and tied up in the basement of the family home. She makes her escape and makes it out of the house alive, with Baby in tow, and Mrs. Wadsworth soon finds out that there’s more to this social worker than she first expected.

    Surprisingly sleazy for a PG rated movie, and far darker and considerably more twisted than it probably should have been, The Baby is wrong on so many levels that it’s hard to put it into words. First off is the character of Baby himself, played freakishly well by Manzy but frequently dubbed by the sounds of an actual infant crying. Then there’s the presence of Ruth Roman, best known for work in more mainstream fare such as Strangers On A Train, here wallowing in exploitation sickness and seemingly all the better for it. Her performance is a determined one, she definitely gives her all and makes a surprisingly believable matronly type, as damaged as she and her children might be. Throw in Marianna Hill and Suzanne Zenor as two well constructed but ‘off’ young ladies and the presence of a pot smoking Micheal Pataki as one of their boy toys and you can easily see how Anjanette Comer’s Ann has definitely got her hands full.

    The story itself is compellingly tasteless at times, the best example being Ann’s trip to a class for mentally handicapped people or the scene where Baby tries to breastfeed one of his babysitters. The film features minor drug use, tends to get violent in spots and definitely gets sadistic in the last half but as trashy as it all is, Post manages to get some great performances out of his cast and to squeeze some genuinely unsettling atmosphere out of the story. The house where most of the action takes place has got some great gothic style to it while the seventies fashions and hairdos combined with a truly odd score from composer Gerald Fried just add to the film’s very substantial weird factor.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Severin presents The Baby in 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen in a brand new transfer taken from the original negative. The film was previously released on DVD by Image Entertainment and then later by Geneon, both transfers were fullframe and look to have been open matte. In comparison, Severin’s new widescreen transfer is brighter and offers more detail but black levels look a bit weak. Overall though, this is a fairly substantial improvement over the previous release. The image is clean and clear and shows only very minor print damage here and there. There are no compression artifacts or edge enhancement problems to note.

    For some comparisons between the old Geneon DVD and the new Severin DVD, click here!

    The audio chores are handled well by the DVD’s Dolby Digital Mono track, no alternate language options or subtitles are provided. This track is considerably cleaner sounding than the previous DVD releases and is also quite an improvement. Dialogue is easier to understand and the levels are well balanced and gone are the irritating cracks and pops in the mix that plagued previous discs.

    As far as the extras go, the previous Image release contained an isolated score and a Spanish language track and the Geneon DVD was completely barebones. Severin’s new DVD doesn’t have either of those (the isolated score would have been a nice inclusion) but it does present the film with some contextual supplements for the first time in home video history. The most interesting is the audio interview with the film’s director, Ted Post, who is quite honest about his feelings on the script and it’s overtones and who talks about how he was basically chased down by a few parties and coerced into taking the job directing the film. More positive about the film is actor David Mooney, who is credited in the film as David Manzey, who also provides an audio interview. Here he talks about what’s he’s been up to since he made this movie (he’s a teacher!) and how he feels about the picture and how he enjoyed his time working on this movie.

    Aside from that, be sure to check out the amazing theatrical trailer for the film, and the bonus trailers for other Severin releases available now or coming soon. Menus and chapter stops are also provided.

    The Final Word:

    A totally twisted mindfuck of a movie, The Baby is just as bizarre as you’ve heard and Severin’s DVD is a great way to check the movie out for yourself along with some choice extras.