SUSPIRIA: Dario, De Quincey & the Dark Goddess; Part 2

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By H.B. Gardner

In Part 2, We continue to think way too much about Suspiria, witchcraft and The Three Mothers

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Dario Argento plagued by Demons? Or, ‘Orestes Pursued by the 3 Furies,’ by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. The Furies/Erinyes share many attributes with Hekate (triplicity, the underworld, torches and serpents). Much of The Three Mothers may be seen in their relentless pursuit to torment their victims.

In Part 1 of this article we mentioned how the sensitive and melancholy Romantic Era essayist Thomas De Quincey channeled the concept of The Three Mothers, as used by Dario Argento in his Three Mothers Trilogy, through his own opium expanded brain in his work Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow, where he named them as Mater Lachrymarum, Mater Suspiriorum and Mater Tenebrarum. We also introduced The Three Mothers and hinted at their associations with a deeper layer of mythic origins. Patience please, and pardon our pedantic pedagogy, as we prepare to dive deep into Inferno and take a deeper look at The Devil in the Details…

The Trine

The Three Mothers in Suspiria (1977), Inferno (1980), and Mother of Tears (2007) are a dark feminine trinity akin to female triads known throughout world mythology, literature and religion who are directly referenced in Suspiria’s sequels: The Fates (the Moirai, The Parcae), The Muses, The Graces, The Graeae, The Morrígan, The Sirens, The Norns, The Erinyes/Furies, The Harpies  and The Gorgons. Also there are The Three Witches from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, 3 Fairy Godmothers in folktales,  The Three Marys at the Empty Tomb  in Christian tradition, as well as the Tridevi in Hinduism.

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The Three Mothers, each sister bares her right breast. East France, late Roman period.

Interestingly, in relation to Suspiria, there was a female trinity worshipped in Germanic  and Celtic regions of pre-Christian Roman Europe commonly referred to as  The Matres or Matronae.  (The Mothers or The Matrons). Data on the widespread cult of The Three Mothers, or Matres, is limited as their cult was viciously suppressed by the incursion of Christianity; but they often appear together in surviving votive shrines, occasionally each one bearing her right breast as in the shrine pictured above. But that’s a small detail which hardly relates to Dario Argento’s Three Mothers Trilogy, ….right?

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The Mother of Tears, aka La Terze Madre (The Third Mother in Argento’s native Italian). Right breast bared.

Uncanny coincidence, innit?

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From the very start of SUSPIRIA we are situated in the fairy tale world of  The Black Forest. Note the poster at left as Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) steps from the airport terminal.

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Shrine to The Three Mothers,                     2nd century, Germany

 

The Black Forest near Freiburg Germany seems an appropriate location for the story in Suspiria. It is often associated with the Brothers Grimm fairy tales and is not far from known sanctuary sites to the Three Matres or Matronae. 

“Matronae altars include an abundance of floral and faunal symbols, such as trees, branches and flowers, birds perched in branches, cornucopias, goats, snakes wound around tree trunks, and scenes of sacrifice. All these suggest strong fertility and chthonic connections.”

– ‘The Cult of The Matronae In the Roman Rhineland’

by Alex G. Garman

 

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In case you missed it, we are reminded we are in The Black Forest as Suzy leaves the airport and enters the dark stormy night which begins her harrowing journey. Note poster at right, placing us firmly in the fairy tale realm of the supernatural.

“The altars show the Matronae holding fruit, bread, money, and in one case spinning material.” The abundance and wealth symbolism is obvious. The spinning material perhaps links them directly to the power of The Three Fates: Clotho spun the “thread” of human fate, Lachesis dispensed it, and Atropos cut the thread, thus determining the moment of death for each individual. 

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The Three Fates by Paul Thumann. In center is Clotho (as Maiden) spinning the thread of life, at right is Lachesis (as Mother) who dispenses it, at left is grim Atropos (as Crone) with her shears ready to snip the thread of life.

Triplicity is a common motif in myth and magic…

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The Norns in Norse mythology are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men. (Artist uncertain. Please enlighten us.)

De Quincey traversed oceans of deepest darkness in his explication of Levana and our Ladies of Sorrow.

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The funereal Three Marys appear at the empty sepulcher in Christian tradition. Group of sculptures by the sculptor Juan Jose Quiros, Elche, Province of Alicante, Spain. Compare with the image below.

Interesting to note how the birth of Christ was attended by 3 Wise Men, whereas his death/resurrection (re-birth?) was attended by 3 women, or funereal midwives. We are reminded of the European fairy tales, like Sleeping Beauty, (in which a spinning wheel figures) and legends  like King Arthur, where births and deaths are attended by 3 fairy godmothers or three women of power.

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Detail from Altar to the Matronae Aufaniae dedicated by Q. Vettius Severus, 164 CE. Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn, Germany.

An unconscious memory seems to have taken hold upon the European mind from the earliest days of human spiritual culture which is echoed throughout art and literature.

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Peter von Cornelius – The Three Marys at the Tomb. Bearing jars of unguents for mortuary duties. Women in the ancient world often oversaw the preparation of the corpse as well as tending to sickness and childbirth, linking them with the powers of The Fates.

 

The ‘INFERNO’ of HECATE

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“Hekate” by Maximilian Pirner (1901).  A singular work depicting the three-formed goddess soaring and twisting round through the night sky of the waning moon. In her multiple hands are key, torch, dagger, and what may be serpents or cords for binding.

One goddess we can easily associate (though not completely identify) with Suspiria‘s terrifying Three Mothers is Hecate, (or Hekate), of the Greeks and Romans, famous for her associations with witchcraft, the moon, magic, crossroads, doorways and thresholds,  necromancy, childbirth, ghosts and unclean lunar rites of sacrifice and expiation, having magical, protective or apotropaic qualities. In the post-Christian writings of the Chaldean Oracles (2nd–3rd century CE) she was regarded with (some) rulership over the three worlds of earth, sea and sky – or heaven, earth and underworld – as well as a more universal role as Saviour (Soteira), Mother of Angels and the Cosmic World Soul. She was also lauded as Kourotrophos (nurse of children), Chthonia (of the earth/underworld), and as Phosphoros,  and Lampadephoros (bringing or bearing light). Black animals, dogs in particular, were her preferred sacrificial animal.

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Midnight sacrifice at the crossroads. Suspiria, 1977

Often referred to as Queen of the Witches or Queen of Hell (the Underworld), Hecate is an ancient goddess portrayed in classical literature as haunting crossroads and cemeteries, where she presided over uncanny midnight rites, with her dreadful nocturnal approach heralded by howling dogs. She was attended by a train of torch bearing nymphs from the underworld (the Lampades) who were said to cause madness, along with the ghosts of those unquiet dead who met their ends by suicide, murder or other sudden tragedy, or those who died without receiving the proper funeral rites.

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Ghoulish, phosphorescent, unquiet dead – a victim of black magic (note the pins stuck in the eyes and the “pinning” of the wrists (in sacrilegious imitation of Christ) of Sarah (Stefania Cassini) the victim – definitely a member of Hecate’s tribe. Suspiria, 1977.

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“Her head, turreted like that of Cybèle,” as De Quincey describes Mater Tenebrarum.                 An ancient statue of torch-bearing Hecate who also often appears with turreted head – linking her as The World Tree. This one adorned with lunar crescent. 3rd century A.D. on display in the Antalya Museum, Turkey.

Hekate’s common significant identifying attributes, other than her triplicity, are torches, keys, daggers, serpents, and cords/rope or scourges/whips. As “Holder of the Keys,” (Kleidotrophos) we see a definite connection to the Three Mothers as imagined by De Quincey as he describes Mater Lachrymarum and Mater Suspiriorum as keybearers (see Part 1 of this article). Her turreted crown, “like that of the goddess Cybele,” as De Quincey describes Mater Tenebrarum, symbolizes her jurisdiction – (Mother goddess as hypostasis of the World Tree) – over the heavens, earth and underworld, thus giving her triple power over the crossroads of the three worlds. She is also strongly identified or equated with the lunar goddess Diana, as Diana Lucifera, She Who Brings Light. She is a popular goddess amongst modern Witches, Wiccans and Pagans.

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The goddess Hecate wielding daggers, scourges and torches and flanked by serpents.               From an engraved Roman gem

In Inferno (1980) the second film in Dario Argento’s Three Mothers Trilogy, the film opens with lingering shots of some common symbols of Hecate, the Greek and Roman goddess of witchcraft.

We see a dagger, 3 keys attached to an ornamental coral snake (venomous – “Red touch yellow, kill a fellow.”), as well as a book of arcane knowledge.

The character Rose Elliot (acted by Irene Miracle – what a magical name!) in Inferno has a natural inclination towards the occult as her taste in literature and jewelry indicate (notice her Eye of Wisdom necklace). Just before Rose dives into the submerged underground ballroom, she uses a lighter to illuminate her way through the darkened cellar; the torch is a common attribute wielded by night wandering Hecate.

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Rose Eliot (Irene Miracle) descends into the unconscious fear of the dark… only to be submerged in terror in Dario Argento’s Inferno.

This is the spirit venturing into the darkness of the Underworld. Indeed, it is her serpent ornamented keychain which drops into the aqueous subterranean realm of Mater Tenebrarum, the deep subconscious world of nightmares, thereby “unlocking” the way towards her fateful encounter with the supernatural. Her passage (initiation) into the Mysteries is a submersion into the womb-realm of the Dark Mother (Mater Tenebrarum) herself!

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She attains the keys to occult wisdom by diving deep into the darkness. Serpent keychain – Serpent = Wisdom. The keys are to her own apartment within the House of Mater Tenebrarum, a true Temple of Darkness.

But perhaps her fate was already sealed from the moment she used the blade (symbol of Hecate) to unseal the first pages of the book The Three Mothers by Varelli; her curiosity unlocking forbidden secrets better left unknown. A type of premature C-Section made by a fledgling Handmaid of Darkness to birth herself – her own self-initiation – to the sacrificial mysteries of a sudden, terrifying death, thereby joining her spirit to the hordes of Hecate.

 

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Hecate Triformis with scourge, key, cords, and torch, articles such as any professional midwife or witch may carry.

As a liminal goddess of crossroads and threshold guardian between the realm of the living and the dead, the mysterious accouterments of Hekate could serve purposes both mystical and practical. Symbolic tools of powers required, perhaps, for lighting the way along midnight excursions into restricted chambers of difficult childbirth, illness in extremis, death, or other health crises, such as wise women, herbalists or poisoners, midwives, abortionists or morticians (any of which may be labeled “witches”) may have required.

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Hecate Triformis (another view of the statue above?) bearing torches, rope and dagger.

In the ancient world, the maternal and infant mortality rate, and other complications surrounding childbirth, was astronomical compared with our relatively safe and routine procedures today. Childhood death, amongst other pitiable or sorrowful themes, is a discernible motif in De Quincey’s somber writings.

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Ad for the final installment of Dario Argento’s Three Mothers Trilogy.

Join us next month for the third and final part of this article where we will complete our analysis of The Three Mothers in Argento’s Trilogy.

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The Three Graces are the light side of the Trine. Goddesses associated with Charm, Beauty and Creativity; or Faith, Hope and Charity.

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SUSPIRIA: Dario, De Quincey and the Dark Goddess; Part 1

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By: H.B. Gardner

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The three ‘Weird Sisters’ from Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’,  by Henry Fuseli, 1783.

‘Suspiria’ (1977) is a singular horror movie that has become a classic of modern cinema. It is impossible to overstate the impact this remarkable film – and the unique stylings it’s director Dario Argento – has had upon artists and writers since it’s release 40 years ago. The mysterious name of the film itself serves as a kind of  wicked enchantment guaranteed to conjure sighs of awe and twinkles in the eyes of horror film buffs. In this special three part article we will stare long and deep into the dark, searching for The Devil in the Details in the art and mythos of Suspiria and attempt to reveal the weird links between horror film fantasy and genuine occult doctrine. In Part 1 we will introduce The Three Mothers and their origins for those yet unfamiliar, and deepen our understanding of them. Part 2 will connect these femmes fatale to the Triple Goddess of Witchcraft and her necromantic symbols and connections in Suspiria and it’s sequels Inferno and Mother of Tears. Part 3 will round it all out with The Three Mother’s taste for tears, misery and sacrifice.

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A symbolically bloody passage leads us over the threshold, towards the inner mysteries of       The Three Mothers.

The vitality of the cult art-house status which this extremely original film has achieved is emphasized by the fact that a remake, directed by Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino and featuring Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton, is due to be released in the not-so-distant future. Hollywood has been grinding out plenty of horror remakes in recent decades and not all have met with much success. If the Suspiria remix does any justice to  the original film or source material, perhaps we will see the Suspiria trilogy (with Inferno (1980) and Mother of Tears (2007)) elevated to the mythic dimensions of Dracula, Frankenstein and The Mummy in our collective movie-going unconscious.

But Suspiria is unique in the horror canon; instead of treading the well-beaten path of vampires, mad scientists or undead pharaohs, the storytelling of Suspiria  constellates about (we hesitate to say ‘narrative focuses on’ – because of it’s surrealistic, dream-like nature): witchcraft and black magic, brutal and prolonged ritual murders perpetrated by dark, unseen forces, and the darker side of the feminine principles of motherhood and sisterhood. On film, this heady brew of elements conjures a hallucinogenic kaleidoscope of ingénues in mysterious buildings overseen by shadowy femme fatales, cryptic warnings whispered about witches, a forbidden book by an alchemist, animals that go berserk and unhinged violence complimented by the inevitably mounting supernatural mayhem.

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“Names which begin with the letter S… are the names of snakes!”

Suspiria‘s origins arise like an intoxicating vapor from the Chinese puzzle-box-like literary works of Romantic Era, British essayist Thomas De Quincey. His best known work: Confessions of an English Opium Eater, inaugurated the tradition of addiction literature in the West when it first appeared in 1822. Later he composed Suspiria de Profundis translated as “Sighs from the Depths,” which was first published in fragmentary form in 1845, from which the title for the film Suspiria derives. The work is a collection of short essays in psychological fantasy — what De Quincey himself called “impassioned prose,” and what is now termed prose poetry. The essays of the Suspiria “are among the finest examples of De Quincey’s or anyone else’s English style.”

“Some critics consider De Quincey’s Suspiria de Profundis the supreme prose fantasy of English literature.”

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“Secret flowers?”                                                                                  Shouldn’t they be opium poppies?

De Quincey conceived of the collection as a sequel to his masterwork, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. Like that work, the pieces in Suspiria de Profundis are rooted in the visionary experiences of the author’s opium addiction. The Suspiria of De Quincey, when taken all together, are a touchingly poignant and beautifully melancholic  excursion into the experiential depths of the sorrows and afflictions of the human heart. He was an extremely sensitive man who suffered deeply from the trials of life, including the premature childhood death of a beloved older sister and his own son, as may be read in his work. A listing of the titles of the pieces in De Quincey’s Suspiria de Profundis will give some indication as to it’s themes (feel free to skip down to The Three Mothers):

  • Dreaming — the introduction to the whole.
  • The Palimpsest of the Human Brain — a meditation upon the deeper layers of human consciousness and memory.
  • Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow — beginning with a discussion of Levana, the ancient Roman goddess of childbirth, De Quincey imagines three companions for her: Mater Lachrymarum, Our Lady of Tears; Mater Suspiriorum, Our Lady of Sighs; and Mater Tenebrarum, Our Lady of Darkness.
  • The Apparition of the Brocken — on an optical illusion associated with a German mountaintop where dark pagan rites were once practiced.
  • Savannah-la-Mar — a threnody on a sunken city, inspired by the 1692 earthquake that sank Port Royal in Jamaica; beginning, “God smote Savannah-la-Mar….”
  • Vision of Life — “The horror of life mixed…with the heavenly sweetness of life….”
  • Memorial Suspiria — looking forwards and backwards on life’s miseries; foreshadowing and anticipation.
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Hekate Triformis, Three-formed Hecate, (with dog and mare heads), offers us an opium seed pod to help illuminate our darkness.

When the collection was reprinted in the collected works in the 1850s, another short essay was added: The Daughter of Lebanon, a parable of grief and transcendence.

The four pieces that first appeared posthumously in 1891 are:

  • Solitude of Childhood — “Fever and delirium,” “sick desire,” and the Erl-King’s daughter.
  • The Dark Interpreter — he was a looming shadow in the author’s opium reveries. (Reminds us of Dexter Morgan’s “Dark Passenger” from the cable drama series Dexter).
  • The Princess that lost a Single Seed of a Pomegranate — echoes upon echoes from an Arabian Nights tale.
  • Who is this Woman that beckoneth and warneth me from the Place where she is, and in whose Eyes is Woeful remembrance? I guess who she is — “memorials of a love that has departed, has been — the record of a sorrow that is….”
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The Ladies of the Academy                                                                                                               Suspiria, 1977

 

The Three Mothers

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Of all of the pieces in the Suspiria, Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow is arguably the most widely anthologized, the best known, and the most admired. “The whole of this vision is clothed in a prose so stately, intense, and musical that it has been regarded by some.. “as the supreme achievement of De Quincey’s genius, the most original thing he ever wrote.” Before the word “archetype” even existed, De Quincey successfully expressed “the mighty abstractions that incarnate themselves in all individual sufferings of man’s heart; …to have these abstractions presented as impersonations, that is, as clothed with human attributes of life, and with functions pointing to flesh.”

It is also at the the black heart of Dario Argento’s cinematic horror masterpiece, as it is here that we discover the origins of The Three Mothers as fateful companions to the Roman Goddess Levana, thought to oversee childbirth as well as the raising and tutelage of children. By the education of Levana is meant – “not the poor machinery that moves by spelling books and grammars, but that mighty system of central forces hidden in the deep bosom of human life, which by passion, by strife, by temptation, by the energies of resistance, works for ever upon children – resting not day or night,…” Each of these dark goddesses is assigned a specific office; under their dreadful auspices they oversee human misery and sorrow through the powers of sighs, tears and darkness. It will become apparent that Argento took artistic liberties with certain characteristics De Quincey had assigned to each of The Three Mothers as they appear in the films.

The Three Mothers are named and described by De Quincey as:

Mater Lachrymarum – Our Lady of Tears: Because she is the first-born of her house, and has the widest empire, she is Honored with the title Madonna. “She it is that night and day raves and moans, calling for vanished faces.” And, “She it was that stood in Bethlehem on the night when Herod’s sword swept its nurseries of Innocents, and the little feet were stiffened forever…” And, “Her eyes are sweet and subtle, wild and sleepy by turns; oftentimes rising to the clouds; oftentimes challenging the heavens. She wears a diadem round her head.” And, …“she could go abroad upon the winds, when she heard the sobbing of litanies or the thundering of (funereal) organs…”.

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Ania Pieroni appears as Mater Lachrymarum in Inferno, 1980.                                   The oldest sister according to De Quincey.

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Our Lady of Sorrows

“She moves with uncertain steps, fast or slow, but still with tragic grace.” Oftentimes she is stormy and frantic; raging against highest heaven and demanding back her darlings. She carries keys “which open every cottage and every palace.” “By the power of her keys it is that Our Lady of Tears glides a ghostly intruder into the chambers of sleepless men, sleepless women, sleepless children” around the world.

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Moran Atias as Mater Lachrymarum.                                                                      The Mother of Tears, 2007.

Mater Suspiriorum – Our Lady of Sighs: “She never scales the clouds, nor walks upon the winds.” With drooping head on which sits a dilapidated turban, this humble Lady of the Hopeless “never clamors, never defies.” “And her eyes, if they were ever seen, would be neither sweet nor subtle; …they would be filled with perishing dreams, and with wrecks of forgotten delirium. But she  raises not her eyes.” her head droops forever… fastened on the dust. “She weeps not. She groans not. But she sighs inaudibly at intervals.” And, “Hers is the meekness that belongs to the hopeless. Murmur she may, but it is in her sleep.  Whisper she may, but it is to herself in the twilight. Mutter she does at times, but it is in solitary places that are desolate as she is desolate, in ruined cities, and when the sun has gone down to his rest. This sister is the visitor of the Pariah…”

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With drooping head, Veronica Lazar as Mater Tenebrarum in Inferno, 1980; appears rather Mater Suspiriorum-ish.

“She also carries a key; but she needs it little. For her kingdom is chiefly amongst the tents of Shem, and the houseless vagrant of every clime.” She sits amongst the pariahs: with the baffled penitent criminal whose name and condition has been forgotten as he languishes in prison, with every slave bound to a caste system, with the disgraced, the betrayed and all outcasts of society, and with the lonely hearts whose fire of younger years has burned away until it is now a solitary candle that gutters on an unseen ledge.

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Veronica Lazar as Mater Tenebrarum in Inferno, 1980.

and Mater Tenebrarum – Our Lady of Darkness: Is the youngest, cruelest and most frightening of the three. We are cautioned to whisper whilst we talk of her! “Her kingdom is not large, or else no flesh should live; but within that kingdom all power is hers. “Her head, turreted like that of Cybèle, rises almost beyond the reach of sight. She droops not; and her eyes rising so high might be hidden by distance. But, being what they are, they cannot be hidden; through the treble veil of crape which she wears, the fierce light of a blazing misery, that rests not for matins or for vespers, for noon of day or noon of night, for ebbing or for flowing tide, may be read from the very ground. She is the defier of God. She also is the mother of lunacies, and the suggestress of suicides. Deep lie the roots of her power; but narrow is the nation that she rules. For she can approach only those in whom a profound nature has been upheaved by central convulsions; in whom the heart trembles and the brain rocks under conspiracies of tempest from without and tempest from within.” And, “…this youngest sister moves with incalculable motions, bounding, and with tiger’s leaps. She carries no key; for… she storms all doors at which she is permitted to enter at all.”

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Helena Markos aka Mater Suspiriorum is destroyed by Suzy (Jessica Harper) in 1977’s Suspiria.

Occult Horror Geek Purport:

The idea in De Quincey’s dream vision being that the sorrows and afflictions which so work their adversities and “fearful truths” upon his own heart and mind – but by extension we may make this a universal truth as affecting the hearts and minds of us all as children, forming and molding us into mature adults until our hearts are fully aquatinted with the miseries of human existence – these conditions (sighs, tears, and darkness) are a commission from God to these archetypal, female spirits or deities to plague the human heart until they have unfolded the capacities of the spirit.

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This is an intriguing concept though not entirely new or unique. The idea of suffering as a motivator leading towards atonement or some kind of spiritual fulfillment is an ancient one and widely recognized, in varying degrees, amongst all religions. Here we may note Buddhism in general, and in particular the Catholic Cult of Mary as the Mother of Sorrows, some devotional goddess cults in India (Kali and similar goddesses), as well as Santa Muerte and the Aztec goddesses Coatlicue and Tlazolteotl, to name just a few.

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Santa Muerte

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Our Lady of Sorrows clutches the crown of thorns to her pierced sacred heart.

De Quincey’s dream vision being that the sorrows and afflictions which so work their adversities and “fearful truths” upon the heart and mind… are a commission from God to these female spirits, or deities, to plague the human heart until they have unfolded the capacities of the spirit.

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A brutal piercing of the heart in Suspiria.

Early on in Suspiria, the film presents a graphic display of a murder – a kind of atrocious plaguing of the human heart, a raging cenobitic (in the Hellraiser sense) opening up, or unfolding of, the capacities for suffering of the human spirit. Perhaps not exactly what De Quincey had in mind, but the visceral poetry does not escape us. In that first horrific murder scene, the murderer uses a dagger and cord which have significance as will be seen when we explore Hekate – the triple-formed Goddess of Witches – and her symbols in Argento’s Three Mothers Trilogy… in Part 2.

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Hekate Triformis

Please stay tuned for the rest of this 3 part article. Parts 2 & 3 will be released in September & October.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Rosemary’s Baby’ 2017 Fantasy Remake & Dream Cast

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By: H.B. Gardner

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‘Rosemary’s Baby’ (1968) the film, is perfect and requires no changes. Nearly fifty years later, it remains a classic which lacks nothing and still basically holds up as a story and as a film today. The story is so perfect it could be adapted into a Grimm’s fairytale version that takes place in a medieval German village and still hold up just as well. We usually shudder at the news every time Hollywood dares to tread upon unholy ground and remake a diabolical horror classic. The 2014 NBC TV drama version starring Zoe Saldana was largely forgettable.

However, if ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ were to be remade as a feature film today (2017), we have some ideas for a fantasy production which would adapt the story to the current climate and offer opportunities for some fine talent to exhibit itself. Not enough older actors are given screen time these days which is a deep shame as they have such skill and talent. Hollywood could certainly do worse than take our advice.

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First, to adapt the film for today, Rosemary would have been Christian homeschooled (creationism not evolution) on a small Wisconsin or Iowa farm by a conservative, right-wing, Charismatic Christian family who fully expect the coming of “the Rapture” and the AntiChrist. These people take the Bible literally as the unerring Word of God. This family votes based solely upon the anti-abortion, pro-life and anti-gay movements. Rosemary enjoys playing girl’s volley ball, and doesn’t date. She moves away from the small town amongst the corn fields and cows to live for a few years in The Big City (need not be New York) and finds her ideas shifting with the current culture. She meets and falls in love with Guy, a handsome young man without religious ideals who is scraping by as an actor but desperately dreams of making it big.

Most of the story remains the same with a few tweaks here and there. For the notorious “dream sequence” Rosemary could see herself sailing away from her family farm through a sea of corn. Instead of the Pope offering his ring for her to kiss at the end of her nightmare, it could be a TV evangelist counting wads of cash, assuring her she is forgiven.

All of Them Witches: A “Who’s Who” in Rosemary’s Baby

Fantasy Cast:

unknown-1 Rosemary Woodhouse – 

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Mia Wasikowska (current age 27) With a name like Mia how could we not consider her? Famous for Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ she has that somewhat fragile look but can show strength. or Chloë Grace Moretz (current age 20) famous for ‘Kick-Ass’ and ‘Let Me In’ (2010). Either of these ladies would also make a suitable Terry.

images-12  Guy Woodhouse –

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Zac Efron (current age 29) This guy could effectively play the desperately charming  actor hungry for fame and fortune; and perhaps bring his own special twist to the role.

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Unknown-14  Minnie Castevet: 

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Tracey Ullman (current age 57) Just think about it! Based on our highly esteemed portrayal by Ruth Gordon in the original film we doubt you could find better. Admittedly, if she were to play Minnie Castevet there may need to be some aging make-up involved but that’s no problem for Tracey Ullman, is it?ψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψ

m8droba-ec003   Roman Castevet 

aka Steven Marcato:

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Jack Nicholson (current age 80) If he’s willing and able we would have it no other way! Jack was considered for the role of Guy in the original film but was considered too sinister looking by director Polanski. Imagine Jack doing this:

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Or this…

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If Jack can’t or won’t come out of retirement, then next we’d ask…

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Malcom McDowell (current age 74), or perhaps John Malkovitch (current age 63). It could happen.

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Doctor Sapirstein – The Doctor from Hell:

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Willem Dafoe (current age 61) Now see the picture below and imagine Dafoe as Rosemary’s obstetrician. Uh huh, say no more. Yet, John Malkovitch would be great for this role too. Hmmmmm….

Rosemary's Baby (1968) Blu-ray Screenshot

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Laura-Louise McBurney – The Witch upstairs –  

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Laura-Louise as played by Patsy Kelly in the 1968 original.

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Kathleen Turner (current age 63) Yes! It has to be Serial Mom!

unknown-13Kathleen Turner as Laura-Louise and Tracey Ullman as Minnie Castevet. Delicious!ψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψ

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“Hutch” – Rosemary’s friend. This character presents some problems today that wouldn’t have been so obvious in the 60’s. An older gentleman friend from the apartment building Rosemary used to live in after first moving to the Big City. If we keep this character an older gentleman then… Bill Murray (current age 66).

But why must Hutch be an older guy? Why not make the character Rosemary’s older girlfriend who befriended her upon moving to the Big City, and who changed Rosemary’s mind about gay people because she herself is a lesbian? Perhaps a writer or counselor who’s also studied something about Witchcraft…

640_winonaryder_gettyWinona Ryder current age 45, or Octavia Spencer (47) as Ms. Hutch.

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1968 Playmate of the Year Victoria Vetri, aka Angela Dorian, played Terry in the Polanski film.

   Terry Gionofrio – Suicidal house guest

For the role of the somewhat rehabilitated drug addict Terry, we select whichever of the two actresses we selected to play Rosemary who doesn’t get to play Rosemary; Mia Wasikowska (current age 27) or Chloë Grace Moretz (current age 20). Dye hair dark.

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Evan Peters (current age 30) of American Horror Story fame. He might also make a good Guy Woodhouse, in which case Zac Efron would be our good but disbelieving Dr Hill.

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Look What Happened to Rosemary's Baby

L to R: Mrs Gilmore, Mrs Wees, Mr Fountain, Dr Sapirstein, Mr Wees, Guy and Rosemary.

The Coven:

Anyone from our list who doesn’t make the final cut, plus these three performers who appeared as principal players in the original film and must now be supporting players in our fantasy remake…

Mia-Farrow-2014   Mia Farrow “Rosemary Woodhouse” in the original film (72) could be Mrs Gilmore in our fantasy remake: “There’s nothing to be afraid of Rosemary. Honest and truly there isn’t.”

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Victoria Vetri (aka Angela Dorian) “Terry Gionofrio” in the original film can now be Mrs Wees. “We’re your friends Rosemary.”

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Mrs Wees hovers behind Rosemary in the blue dress suit.

Current age 72 and serving time, but with a release planned in the not-too-distant future. It is also our wish to see  Victoria Vetri and Mia Farrow paired up again, if only even for  a brief scene,  in the American Horror Story series. Oh please! Please! Please make it happen!

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Actually, Mrs Gilmore is saying: “There’s nothing to be afraid of Rosemary; honest and truly there isn’t.” Mrs Wees (off camera) says: “We’re your friends , Rosemary.”

Unknown-15   Charles Grodin aka “Dr. Hill” in the original film, (now 80) as Mr Wees. He’ll be the first to “Hail Satan!” in the climactic scene.

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images-2 Or… as Dr Shand?

And….

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Ernest Harada (73) appeared as the  photographer in the original film and is also in retirement, but if he could be coaxed out of it to perhaps take on another character… like that of Mr Nicklas who shows Rosemary and Guy the apartment, played by Elisha Cook in the original.

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We need a few more witches….

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Angelica Huston

Anjelica Huston (current age 66) shall be our cat-toting Mrs Sabatini for our dream remake.

 

 

 

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Nastassja Kinski

 

Nastassja Kinski (current age 56) shall be Mrs Fountain. Maybe Willem Dafoe as Mr. Fountain if Malkovitch plays Dr Sapirstein.

 

 

 

images-35   images-1-2               Christopher Walken (now 74) Can be the mysterious Mr Gilmore. We just want to see him creeping around.

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Well, our list is painfully caucasian, we know. That’s due to our limited knowledge of talent. After all, we mostly watch vintage diabolical horror films, which is largely a white dominated sub-genre. Surely there are other ideas for great actors in a revival of this classic horror thriller, but we’ve already spent enough time on this bit of dream-fancy fluff. Hope you enjoyed it. Who do you think should play in a ‘Rosemary’s Baby‘ remake?

 

 

A Japanese view of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

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By: H.B. Gardner

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ローズマリーの赤ちゃん = Rozumaree no aka-chan

When we “Westerners” from the Judeo-Christian background view the classic horror-thriller film ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ we are given to consider the position of evil in our society. Japanese people, on the other hand, find a fascination with the American fashion and style sense of the late 1960’s.

The Japanese perspective of this classic film ( Rosemary no akachan ローズマリーの赤ちゃん ) is perhaps unique in the world. There is little sense of “horror” such as a person from an American or European culture may feel. The Japanese are largely Atheistic, secular and without any devout religious fervor of any kind whatsoever. At the end of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ there is a sense of “So what? Glad the baby’s ok.”

images-2 This cartoon is a warning not to watch ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ if you have the “maternity blues.” But it praises Mia Farrow’s cuteness and fashion styles.

The Japanese have an incredible eye for fashion. They are also certainly not slouches when it comes to illustration. While it’s unlikely that we will be treated to a Japanese  manga or animated version of ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ (or ‘Suspiria’ – yes, there has been some genuine talk of the later!), we have found some interesting examples of illustrations by Japanese artists who were inspired by Rosemary’s Baby.

This one is a favorite. The artist has a homepage here.

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What we have here is a kind of film and cast summary. From upper left and moving counter-clockwise the general translation is:

(That’s an illustration of Roman Polanski) The film’s handsome director can be seen in the DVD extras. He did mischief with an underage girl and now cannot enter the USA.”

“Mia was married to Frank Sinatra, who did not want her to finish the film. Mia was told she would get an academy award and be as famous as Audrey Hepburn if she completed the film, so she did. I don’t know what happened to her marriage.”

Red writing: “Rosemary is surrounded by servants of the Devil. Minnie Castevet: “Snips and snails and puppy dog’s tails! Drink it fresh!” Talkative people surround her. Laura-Louise says “Hi nice to meet you.””

Rosemary is saying: “Robert Redford and Jack Nicholson were considered to play my husband… but this guy sold his soul to the devil and got the part.” Big pink words “Give me back my baby!”

Guy Woodhouse in the brown suit is saying: “I’m in a Yamaha commercial!”

Black stroller: “At the end the baby’s face wasn’t shown.”

Dr Sapirstein says: “Listen only to me. Drink Tannis root juice. I’m a very famous Doctor.”

(Dr Shand, a minor character) “”Hi!” His smile is very charming as Rosemary is forced into the car.”

Upper right corner: “Hutch is Rosemary’s only friend and he discovers the diabolical truth and is killed for it. The name Hutch reminds the artist of a Japanese bee cartoon character (Hutch sounds like “Hachi” – Japanese for bee). Hutch asks “What is Tannis root?””

 

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Good likenesses

General translation (clockwise): This is a horror film but it can serve as a fashion role model. If you focus on the fashion your fear will be lessened. Rosemary is having the devil’s baby and she loses weight as she gets sicker, but she still has such cute 60’s fashion sense. Every scene she is so fashionable! Rosemary says: I went to Vidal Sassoon for a cute short haircut but my husband hates it! Around Minnie Castevet: My annoying old neighbor worships evil but even she is crazy fashionable! Red outfit: This red 2-piece outfit is my favorite in the film. The soft lines, the color and the black one strap patent shoes hit every girl’s style acupuncture points!

The artist’s blog is Here.

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Some Japanese really paid attention to the fashion style of Rosemary’s Baby

19029557_169451390259403_8351639112924692402_n     Ree Rosee illustration room is where to find this artist.

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If Rosemary’s Baby were a picture book, this could be the final illustration…

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Unfortunately, we could not identify the artist.

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images-32  Vintage novel

sim  Vintage souvenir picture folio

‘Rosemary’s Baby’ Turns 50 !

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By: H.B. Gardner

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Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes toast to an imminent conception with far-reaching effects.

Caution: This article contains some spoilers! If you have not read the novel or seen the film (what the Hell are you waiting for?!) you might want to save reading this article until after you have!

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In 1967 American culture was exploding on all levels. This was the year of the so-called “Summer of Love”.  The Civil Rights Movement headed by Martin Luther King Jr. was in full swing, as was the Vietnam War, the Sexual revolution, and activism for Women’s Rights. Andy Warhol was making instant movie stars in The Factory. Timothy Leary, a psychologist and researcher with the Harvard Center for Research in Personality who oversaw Harvard’s Psilocybin Project, instructed a crowd of 30, 000 hippies gathered in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” LSD drenched Rock ‘n Roll and psychedelic art was unleashed as an endless parade of young, long haired hippies and flower children, defying all social norms, made transcendental pilgrimages – both near and far – towards a purple-hazy ideal of freedom. Young men were burning their draft cards and the youth in general were motivated towards social change while shaking off the grip of their families long-held belief systems. Things were drastically changing! Utopia was at hand!

An exotic and colorful bouquet of new cults, old religions, gurus and esoteric magic in the Age of Aquarius burst upon the scene: Moonies, Hare Krishnas, Occultism, TM, Scientology, Jim Jones, and the Process Church to name just a few. At the same time, Charles Manson was lurking in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. Just the year before there was some publicity when Anton LaVey established the Church of Satan in San Francisco, the first legally recognized Satanic organization in history. Americans took notice of all this and wondered just what in the Hell was going on? The entire world had been turned topsy-turvy, seemingly overnight.

In the midst of this chaotic, sweaty, ecstatic rebirthing of the American Dream (which would quickly burn itself out and awaken into a full-blown nightmare) a book was published that March. Ira Levin’s thrilling best-selling suspense novel ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ was born. A year later on June 12th, 1968 the faithful  film version directed by Roman Polanski was delivered to the world just 6 days after the assassination of Robert Kennedy. We feel it is not quite overstating the matter when we claim that the world has been feeling the effects of this counter-culture ‘Baby’ ever since.

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Hardcover 1967 edition

This was The Mother Of All Devil-Baby Films. It sent some people away from the theaters visibly shaken and muttering “Blasphemy!” under their breaths. It ushered in a flood of Devil and Child-of-Satan themed films and books of both epic and lowbrow proportions. Dozens of various evil incarnations of the premise have followed in the malodorous wake of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, including a made for tv sequel (‘Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby,’ 1976) and a 2-night NBC primetime remake in 2014. Ira Levin himself wrote a sequel: ‘Son of Rosemary,’ (published 1997) which he dedicated to Mia Farrow, who so excellently portrayed Rosemary Woodhouse in the now classic film.

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A challenge to Christian faith

‘Rosemary’s Baby’ appeared at a confrontational time in American society. Remembering this may help explain the nerve that this story hit for many people who were floundering or feeling washed-up by the counter-cultural wave of the day. The most firmly established, traditional and holy things were suddenly no longer sacred. In the film, Rosemary herself says “I was brought up a Catholic, now I don’t know.” Indeed, a stark TIME magazine cover from 1967 plainly asked: Is God Dead? This smacked of sacrilege and blasphemy to the majority of church-going middle America. The 60’s were a time when more people dared to openly doubt and question, not only established religion, but everything they had been taught or told! The hippies were busy rejecting, exploring and unlearning. Everything having to do with “The Establishment” was in doubt. The popular American consciousness was awakening to it’s own sense of independent thinking regarding reality apart from traditional authoratative religious ideas about morality as well as the corruptibility of a once esteemed government.

While ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ is a slow-building, intellectual suspense – horror film with practically no blood or violence, it was the climax – a definitive casting down of established Faith in the absence of any God – which sent some believers to confession and nudged some others towards the New Age. It spoke directly to those who felt ill-fitted and hypocritical sitting dutifully in church in their Sunday best as the white Christian  centered society they grew up in collapsed around them. ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ threw down the gauntlet; it forced believers to think hard for themselves about some deep questions, the kind that matter: Is there a God? and, If so, where the Hell is He now?

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Abortion was a topic not much discussed in polite company back before the movements towards change in the 60’s and 70’s. It was practically a taboo word, only whispered by mothers gossiping about some unfortunate neighbor’s daughter. In the film ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ the word is spoken twice within a few seconds, which in itself was quite significant for the time of it’s release. Of course even this splinter of dialogue takes place in a scene within which a few women are speaking privately in a kitchen, in hushed voices and with the doors secured. We are given even deeper insight into Rosemary’s thought processes in the final pages of the novel where Rosemary, after the diabolical revelation of the baby’s paternity, considers throwing first the baby and then herself out of the seventh story window. “Choosing life,” to use a pro-life phrase, had never before had quite the same dire intimations. Abortion, Suicide and Satan are all a part of the spell conjured by Ira Levin’s novel and Roman Polanski’s faithful cinematic version of it. I have elucidated a few of these aspects of the book and film in this article: Sympathy for the Devil: The Sublime Satanism of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

Maybe that’s all a bit heavy. Plenty of people enjoyed ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ the film as art, and rightly so. It is still widely considered to be not only Roman Polanski’s masterpiece but a watermark in cinematic history, and not only for suspense and horror. It is quite possibly the best horror film ever made. The seamless hand-held camera work, the realistic performances, the perfect casting, the elaborate sets, the 60’s fashions, and the understated horror of it all weaves an effective spell that has rarely been rivaled in cinema since it’s release in June 1968. It has been critiqued, studied, and analyzed; it was also condemned by the National Legion of Decency.

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Cover for the 50th anniversary edition

Yet, despite it’s Hellish premise, ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ is not without it’s own darkling undercurrent of black humor. Even as  Rosemary’s painful pregnancy intensifies and the stranglehold of suspicion and paranoia increases into a palpable threat, there is a snide kind of wit that permeates the film, like a chalky under taste, right up to the very denouement. New York City in the Swinging Sixties – the materialistic agnosticism of urban culture influencing the good Catholic school girl from Omaha. The strange neighbors all but hiding behind carnival devil masks. Rosemary’s husband Guy Woodhouse is an aspiring actor focused on name, fame and wealth: he’s a materialist interested in the supernatural only for whatever material benefits can be gained by it. He makes fun about seeing the Pope performing a Mass at Yankee stadium on TV: “That’s a great spot for my Yamaha commercial,” he laughs, shortly before pimping his wife out to You-Know-Who. It’s the film’s realism, along with a judicious use of subtle irony and sly wit, that makes the psychological terror all the more palpable.

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L to R: Bruno Sidar as Mr Gilmore, Patsy Kelly as Laura Louise McBurney, Charlotte Boerner as Mrs Leah Fountain, Almira Sessions as Mrs Sabatini with her cat Flash.

And we can’t help but relish Minnie and Roman Castevet and the other lurid characters surrounding Rosemary. Polanski mostly cast theater people and prolific film extras in these roles as witches, so we get an odd feeling of something not-quite-right and familiar about them at  the same time. Ruth Gordon won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal as Minnie Castevet; a role she killed – leaving it impossible for anybody to match it. It is fun to think of the Castevets and some of the other extras as demons trying (a little too hard) to pass themselves off as human. We smirk at the irony  of a young, naive first-time mother’s helplessness before a coven of smiling, well-meaning old geezers who are (she thinks)  plotting against her and her baby. And, when there are no witches hovering around Rosemary, there are several authoritative men “mansplaining” things to her.

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“look at his hands!” Ruth Gordon as Minnie Castevet.

Want to know more about the witches in ‘Rosemary’s Baby’? Read our article: All of Them Witches: A ‘Who’s Who?’ in ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

Read our Interview with cast member Ernest Harada who appears in the film’s climax: An Interview with Ernest Harada: Celebrating 50 Years of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

The deal is made with the Devil of course, but Rosemary, ignoring warnings from a dear old friend, has already sold her soul (and good sense) by falling in love with the old apartment building’s gothic charm and by begging her ambitious actor husband Guy to get them out of “the other lease” in order to take the apartment in the looming Bramford (need we mention the infamous Dakota where the exterior shots were filmed?). After moving in she does her best to redecorate the rather solemn interior with white and yellows; but as Rosemary remakes the Bramford’s interior to suit her tastes, the Bramford remakes Rosemary’s interior to suit it’s own sinister plans. That’s because Rosemary’s metamorphosis is America’s metamorphosis. Innocence is lost. Once the post WWII “high” of the 1950’s and ’60’s faded, the public  grew numb after numerous political and social upheavals, celebrity deaths and the consumer complacency which ushered in the 1970’s. Off come the pig tails, gone is the girlish smile, and a pain – “like a wire inside of me getting tighter and tighter” as Rosemary laments – settles in our core.

We can argue that things are still changing drastically today, perhaps in even more ways than they were in ’67. ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ is now 50 years old and still walks among us like a smug iconoclast at a cocktail party – sneering and scoffing at our outmoded ideas regarding religion or morality – wearing a cheap Halloween Boogey-man mask as he laughs at our nervousness at letting go of our old fears and inhibitions. And yet we wonder after the final revelation at the end of the story: is it a happy ending or a terrifying one? The answer of course is “Both.” Rosemary’s baby is alive, safe, adored, worshipped; but that in itself spells certain doom to the world we know, or at least to the world we used to know “back then.”

– H.B. Gardner

Women From Hell: Cinema’s Greatest Ladies from Hades

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By: H.B. Gardner

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The Devil Is A Woman – Hollywood seems to have known this for some time. Perhaps it is our Western Judeo-Christian heritage with it’s misogynistic imprinting that has left us with a pre-formed suspicion of the Woman-with-the-Serpent.

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Lilith (1892) by John Collier in Southport Atkinson Art Gallery. The Tree of Knowledge ever bears forbidden fruit.

Seductress, Temptress, Witch, Murderess, Madwoman, Child-Snatcher… what causes this particular archetype to rise with such horrific force – like a primitive shadow from the collective unconscious – into our cinematic plays of shadow and light? Women have often been among the most numerous and the most devoted of the Devil’s servants. Though we would’ve enjoyed seeing Marlene Dietrich celebrate a Black Mass in a devilish thriller directed by Hitchcock, that remains a lost fantasy. It has really only been since the 1960’s that we’ve seen some celluloid Femme Fatales with a true sulphuric sense.

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Hollywood has always known: The Devil Is A Woman (1935)

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Marlene would’ve made a marvelous Madame de Montespan

We have constructed a list (in vaguely chronological order and by no means exhaustive) of Cinematic Diabolical Dames deserving of recognition for the characters they brought to wicked life. They can both delight and disturb us, and they often have some of the best lines in films. These women are really in touch with their dark sides. Let’s celebrate Our Ladies In Hades.

Note: We were unsure whether to include the Possessed to our list as, while they may be human, they are not entirely themselves, so to speak. Therefore we decided not to include the notoriously infamous  Regan MacNeil / Pazuzu character from ‘The Exorcist,’ but we did include the less widely known Sister Jeanne from ‘The Devils.’ ‘Carrie’ White’s mother could be added because her extreme Christian religiosity makes her act evil… but let’s just accept that she is a psycho. We’ll try not to get complicated. Enjoy!

As an actress, Barbara Steele deserves special mention because of her bewitching presence amongst Horror Cinema’s tortured and lost souls. Her dark beauty still provides a template for gothic divas today. We certainly include her as the vampire witch princess Katia Vajda/Princess Asa Vajda from the influential ‘Black Sunday’ aka ‘Mask of Satan’ (1960) directed by Mario Bava, which is saturated with Gothic atmosphere and creepy  effects which are still, well… effective!

In Curse of the Crimson Altar’ aka ‘The Crimson Cult’ (1968), which also features Christopher Lee and Boris Karloff, Barbara Steele plays Lavinia Morley who leads a witchcraft cult. She also appeared with Vincent Price in ‘The Pit and the Pendulum.’ We could go on listing her devilish films and her appearances in Dark Shadows but we hope you will discover her magic for yourself if you haven’t already had the pleasure.

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Barbara Steele in ‘Black Sunday’

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Barbara Steele in ‘Curse of the Crimson Altar’ (1968)

Sister Jeanne of the Angels in Ken Russell’s THE DEVILS as played by Vanessa Redgrave      An excellent performance in an excellent film. Sister Jeanne is a hunchbacked  Ursuline nun with a beautiful face in 17th century France. We watch in horror as the good nun and her repressed sisters – tormented by both fear and desire – become possessed by some really sinister Devils, namely the Church and State.

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The Evil One is always tempting us… Vanessa Redgrave discovers some dirty habits in Ken Russell’s ‘THE DEVILS’

Mrs. Blaylock from ‘THE OMEN’ (Billie Whitelaw – original [1976] & Mia Farrow – remake [2006])  When Mrs Blaylock arrives to be the nanny for young Damian Thorn we feel certain there is something a little bit off about her, though nothing obvious at first. Is she human? Is she a demon sent from Hell? What is certain is her devotion to her young charge. Those feral eyes that appear through a sheer layer of gossamer nightgown as Katherine Thorn attempts to dress herself in the hospital, like a shark steadily approaching a drowning swimmer… Heaven help us!

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Billie Whitelaw as Mrs Blaylock

Although we don’t care much for flawed remakes or sequels, we must give the Devil Her due. Mia Farrow accepted the stunt casting for The Omen 2006 reboot which, in a deft marketing ploy, opened in America on 6-6-’06. We were present for the event at a packed theater in Orlando when, at the opening of the film just as the opening credits were starting to roll, the celluloid burned in the projector – causing a sizzling psychedelic suppuration to spill across the movie screen. One nervous young woman of color exclaimed that this film was evil and possessed by the Devil’s power and quickly exited the theater with an amused and peeved date following her out. They never returned. It was a clever move to have Mme Farrow play the Antichrist’s guardian as she is so well known for ‘Rosemary’s Baby’. Her sweet portrayal of Mrs Blaylock truly makes the remake darkly-delightfully watchable.

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Mrs. Ann Thorn in ‘DAMIEN: OMEN II ‘     Lee Grant is believable as a devoted stepmother to two young men. Her reactions to the drama around her feel genuine so we must admit she shocked the hell out of us the first time we saw this film. Her final treacherous move just before delivering her lines – which are legendary in Satanic Cinema – (“Here’s your daggers!! ….I’ve always belonged to Him!”) left more than one pair of jaws agape. Nobody saw this ending coming until it was too late.

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Lee Grant as Ann Thorn prepares to skewer and barbecue.

Charlotte Rampling as Margaret Krusemark in ‘ANGEL HEART’    Sophisticated,  tasteful  and dignified, Margaret Krusemark is one classy dame, but her unusual profession and her taste in jewelry and home decor let us know that she is, in no uncertain terms, into more than just star-gazing and black magic. Tis pity she has a criminal connection with old heart-throb Johnny Favorite, though a special kind of Valentine will see them reunited.

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“I don’t think you’d like what I see in your future.”

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Mickey Rourke and Charlotte Rampling star in Angel Heart

Hellraiser’ & ‘Hellbound: Hellraiser II’   Clare Higgins as Julia Cotton & Female Cenobite    There is no mistaking Julia Cotton for a sweet hausfrau. This icy woman is frigid with her dull husband but fiery-hot and passionate with his brother Frank! In the first film she is the Wicked Stepmother, in Hellbound she emerges as The Evil Queen. No doubt she is on the highway to Hell. Her desires and cruelty should mark her high (or should we say Low?) on our list, ranking her one of the true Queens of the Damned! A woman who knows what she wants and will stop at nothing to get it!

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“Now everybody’s happy.”

While we are in Hell(raiser) we may as well pause to genuflect and offer an orison to the Female Cenobite. This creature is unique in Horror cinema. Though other female cenobites have followed since the first two films in the series, she causes us to cringe with her taste for flesh and pain. Two separate actresses portrayed the female cenobite in the first two films. In the first Hellraiser the Female Cenobite was played by Grace Kirby who also happens to be Clive Barker’s cousin. In Hellbound, the role is played by Barbie Wilde who has authored some fiction which you who are reading this should check out. The Hellraiser themed short story collection Hellbound Hearts (2009) contains a backstory she wrote for her Female Cenobite character titled Sister Cilice which we highly recommend.

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Barbie Wilde in Hellbound

You may also enjoy reading ‘The Venus Complex’ by Barbie Wilde

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“Perhaps you’re teasing us. Are you teasing us?”

‘The Ninth Gate’    Emmanuelle Seigner as “The Girl”, or as we prefer to call her The Mysterious Familiar Demoness. Part Succubus, part guardian daemon, this mysterious creature is ever unperturbed, has a great sense of timing, and is almost playful with Johnny Depp’s character… as a cat is with a mouse. She is fierce in the film’s ….umm, fiery climax.

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Ms Seigner is married to director Roman Polanski who directed The Ninth Gate and is famed for his contemporary Satanic masterpiece ‘Rosemary’s Baby’.

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‘Rosemary’s Baby’ How can we NOT mention lovable old Minnie Castevet ?- With a whiff of Tannis root perfume this crass character has a sense of style unsurpassed in Satanic Cinema. This nosey neighbor will creep you out even as she attempts to creep into your heart. Ruth Gordon‘s portrayal of a hip geriatric witch from Manhattan’s Upper West Side won her a well-deserved Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, winning perhaps the highest recognition of our sister Satanistas in Cinema – ever! Don’t be fooled by this harmless looking old lady!

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And the 2014 ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ TV remake with Carole Bouquet as Margeaux Castevet . Wiser heads must have prevailed at the studio – knowing the impossibility of even attempting to match Ruth Gordon’s flawless portrayal as Minnie Castevet – they instead took a more continental direction for the character with the sleek and sophisticated Carole Bouquet. We are certainly in praise of the older woman when speaking of the ladies Castevet.

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Mrs Ulman from ‘House of the Devil’  played by Mary Woronov    Creeps us out of all proportion to her time onscreen. Effectively evil in an understated way that is rarely accomplished in cinema these days. Hers is a throwback to those good old Omen days; as if Mrs Blaylock had survived and relocated to America in the 80’s. Mary Woronov has led a fascinating acting career through Warhol’s Factory, Punk, off-Broadway theater and numerous appearances in Cult and Horror and genre films and TV.

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In Rob Zombie’s ‘The Lords of Salem’  (2013)     We get several witches worth their cinematic salt! Besides Sherri Moon Zombie as Heidi La Rock / Adelaide Hawthorne, we also get to savor Judy Geeson as Lacy Doyle, Meg Foster as Margaret Morgan, Patricia Quinn as Megan, and Dee Wallace as Sonny. A veritable coven of conniving women who usher an unsuspecting Heidi through a metaphysical mental metamorphosis to create a perfect vessel of demonic vengeance. We don’t view Heidi as demonically possessed, though she may certainly be classified as demonically obsessed.

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Sherri Moon Zombie as Heidi in The Lords of Salem

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You get your witches’ worth in this Rob Zombie flick! The Three Witches: L to R: Patricia Quinn, Judy Geeson and Dee Wallace.

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Meg Foster is perfect as Margaret Morgan

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The Assumption of Maria is Satanized into the Descent of Heidi

This great iconic image reminds us of one of our favorite paintings…

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‘Diana of Ephesus and the slaves’ (1893 – 1898),  by the severely under-appreciated Italian symbolist painter Giulio Aristide Sartorio.  Was Rob Zombie inspired by this painting?

Did you know?

The cult statues of the many-breasted Ephesian Artemis / Diana were often rigged as fountains in Her ancient temples. These fountains would spew forth milk from the nipples at the climax of the celebrations. These temples were vandalized and desecrated by Christian zealots centuries ago but some images remain. The Goddesses have been demonized since that time, but fortunately She is in recovery.

We could go on and on with this list, and perhaps we will add others as time permits. We can certainly include more. If you think of some we have missed that really deserve to be added in here please let us know.

An Interview with Ernest Harada: Celebrating 50 years of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

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Interviewed by H.B. Gardner

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Ernest Harada played the Japanese photographer (named Hayato in the novel) in the final scene of Rosemary’s Baby.

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of  ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ – the classic spellbinding thriller – Devil In The Details interviewed actor and performer Ernest Harada, who appears as a Satanic Japanese photographer in the climactic final scene of the 1968 film directed by Roman Polanski. The novel by Ira Levin was published in 1967, and the film was released the following year, making 2017 and 2018 the Golden Jubilees of one of the horror genre’s most influential works.

Born October 20, 1944, in Honolulu, Hawaii, Ernest Harada graduated from Mid-Pacific Institute, class of 1962 and studied political science at Syracuse University. He received a degree in acting in 1965 from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), the oldest drama school in the UK.

Harada is happily retired in Honolulu. He performs occasional concerts, most recently in Germany and New York and Hawaii. We reached out to Harada to ask him about his career and professional experience. As one of the last surviving cast members of ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ Harada had some interesting insights into life an Asian American artist in Hollywood and on Broadway, what it was like to work with Roman Polanski, and what exactly was in that black bassinet?

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Mr Ernest Harada, from his personal collection.

Sonny Gardner: Is this Mr Harada speaking?

Ernest Harada: Yes. Is this Sonny?

SG: Yes, thank you so much for taking my call.

EH: My pleasure.

SG: Good Morning. How are you?

EH: I am good. I am back in Honolulu and recovering and doing my physical therapy and hopefully will be back in shape again.

SG: I’m glad to hear you’re back in paradise. Honolulu sounds marvelous; it’s where my parents met many, many years ago, though I’ve never been there myself.

EH: It’s a great place. I think it’s as close to Paradise on Earth as you can get. I mean weather-wise and ultimately the people-wise. It’s a wonderful place. That’s why when I had to retire I came back home.

SG: So you are from Hawaii originally?

EH: I was born and raised here. I left here when I graduated high school at 18. I went to Syracuse University for one year and, at the University, realized I wanted to pursue acting and was given an opportunity actually by a director from the Royal Shakespere Company who suggested I should be in London studying Drama. Up to that point I had no idea I wanted to be an actor. I was there for Political Science, I mean I was going to become an international lawyer and basically represent the up-and-coming Japanese economy. My father was visiting Japan since the early fifties and he realized what a business behemoth Japan was becoming, and that they would need, once they got big enough, representation in America and that was going to be me.

So I went to Syracuse because they had an excellent school – Maxwell School of Citizenship – which basically dealt with international law. But I got involved in theatrics there and a director of the Royal Shakespere Company who happened to see ‘Romeo and Juliet’ that I was performing in, he pulled me aside and said that I should be studying in London. He assumed I was studying Drama at Syracuse, which I wasn’t. So he said I should be in London and suggested three schools. He sent me their addresses; of course I auditioned for them, and when I was accepted at all three of them: the Royal Academy, the London Academy and Central School, I decided Yes, this is really what I wanted and I moved to London and studied there for three years.

SG: Wow, that’s fascinating.

EH: Yeah, that’s how I began my choice of being an actor.

SG: I read that you had attended the London Academy of Music Dramatic Art, class of 1965 I believe.

EH: Yes.

SG: So, what was your family’s reaction? How did your father and the rest of your family react to you going off into the Arts when you had focused on international law?

EH: Well, he always thought I’d outgrow it. He never thought it was a viable occupation. Even when I was supporting myself and making money,  uhm.., it just was not a legitimate profession. But they learned to live with it.

SG: I’m glad to hear that. So you grew up in Hawaii with your family there, a family of Japanese heritage.

EH: Yes.

SG: So you were born right at the tail-end of World War II, were you not?

EH: Yes, ’44.

SG: Right. So, I was just curious, I’ve been living in Japan now for about 8 years and I’ve been coming and going from Japan for more than that, going on 15 years, so, I’m a little familiar with the culture and some of the history. I was wondering about what it was like for somebody who was an American citizen but also of Japanese heritage at the end of WWII ? Especially in Hawaii, you know with Pearl Harbor and all?

EH: Well, basically in Hawaii we were spared the kind of discrimination that they faced in the West Coast of the mainland of the continental USA. They thought about incarcerating the Japanese population here, but wiser heads prevailed. They realized that you cannot incarcerate one-third of the population – which was the Japanese population at that time – and have a viable economy. I mean the entire economy would’ve collapsed. So basically they just jailed or relocated the ringleaders – the ringleaders being anyone who was educated: people in newspapers, community leaders, religious leaders, well-educated doctors… anyone they could think… or they thought could possibly might – might – be dangerous. And in fact absolutely none of them were.

SG: Right.

EH: There was absolutely no case of espionage by anyone. And we knew that as Japanese here. I mean we were American Japanese, especially by the Nisei [note: Nisei = second generation of Japanese immigrants], there were some Isei’s that had feelings for Japan, as my grandfather being a first generation always felt very strongly Japanese, but that was his heritage. But anyone born in Hawaii was immediately – this is our loyalty – I think, more to Hawaii than to America.

Hawaii is a very unique microcosm. (thoughtful Pause) I really think Hawaii is going to be the model for the world. We get together and live together with various races and  cultures and religions. There was no majority. There still isn’t a majority. We are a community of minorities and we make it work.

SG: That’s marvelous. It really is a unique culture in the world.

EH: Yes!

SG: And especially in American culture it’s very unique.

EH: Take Barak Obama for example, he is of mixed parentage. People ask him “Why do you bring your family here for Christmas every year?” He said ‘I want my daughters to grow up knowing who they are and where they came from.’ Which means he associates being Hawaiian as much as being a black man, and I think even more so. I mean this is the culture that nurtured him. And what I have discovered – the uniqueness of the Japanese Americans coming from Hawaii and a lot of Japanese that I’ve met – I mean Japan Nationals on the mainland – said there’s such a difference in the Japanese from Hawaii and the Japanese from the (US) mainland. I said, well we were not imprisoned; we are not intimidated. We have a spontaneity; we are a more fulfilled personality. We never were caught and beaten down as so much of the Japanese Americans in California and the West Coast were. I mean a lot of them were afraid even to admit they were Japanese. Even now.

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Ernest Harada, 1977

SG: Yeah, you’re right. There is so much fear and paranoia of foreigners these days…

EH: Well, it’s persecution! They were persecuted, you know?

SG: Truly.

EH: Yes, and I visit Japan a lot.

SG: Oh, do you?

EH: Yes. I’ve been there 8 or maybe 10 times. My father had a company there and we would go and visit. In fact, we were there just maybe a couple of years ago. I took my whole family down; we came from Yamaguchi prefecture. And so we went to visit the valley from whence we came, where my grandfather emigrated from. My grandmother came from Hofu and my maternal grandparents came pretty much from the Iwakumi area; so we visited all of that. My brother and sister had never quite seen it before. And it was lovely, it was a lovely trip. I love Japan.

SG: I’m glad to hear that. (laughs)

EH: Oh, yes, My sister’s partner said, you know after having visited Japan she said, it is absolutely the most sophisticated culture on Earth. They have thought of everything down to the nth degree, and I feel she’s absolutely right. And I’m glad she appreciated that about the Japanese sensibility. Everything is thought of, to the minutest detail, which  sometimes can work towards their detriment; I think it curtails their spontaneity.

SG: Right. (laughs) True.

EH: But as a culture I mean it has created a marvel, something I’m very proud of. I’m very proud of my Japanese heritage.

SG: Yes, it really is a pleasure to live here. It’s quite comfortable and people are so polite.

EH: Oh, it’s clean, it’s efficient, and everything works! (laughs)

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Rosemary’s Baby has the honor of being the first horror novel to reach The New York Times Bestseller list!

SG: Oh, yeah… (laughs). Well, moving back to your professional career, you mentioned how you had gotten interested in acting while you were in school, and you were encouraged. I was wondering, from your perspective as someone of Japanese heritage – and of Asian heritage in general, but also of American Hawaiian heritage – your perspective as a performer over these years in the world of Hollywood and show business, if you have anything you’d like to share about that.

EH: Well, by the time I got to Hollywood, here I was totally capable of doing Shakespere, and if you wanted classical theater I was totally capable of doing it, and knowing how to wear costumes from the 17th century on – and basically being slammed into a work environment where you’re going to play waiters and gangsters and things that were totally unchallenging. A handful of us started an organization first called Brotherhood of Artists advocating for Asian-Pacific American actors; and later it became the Association of Asian-Pacific American Artists and I was one of it’s founders and it’s president, oh for too many years, (laughs). And our primary purpose, our sole purpose, was to advocate for better roles for the Asian artists. Also, I was one of the founding members of the East West Players, which is still going, a professional theatre company in Los Angeles. I was a founding member there because we needed someplace where we could act and stretch our muscles and become better performers.

And that was pretty much all of my career there. All the while I was active in Hollywood I was in an advocacy group, most likely heading it, and of course supporting the East West players. At a certain point I dropped out, I could no longer perform with them, I was just too busy. But it doesn’t matter, you know, it was successful and thriving and we created something that was wonderful.

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Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer play hosts to Ernest Harada (at right) in Rosemary’s Baby

SG: Yes, that’s true. I had asked you before if ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ was your first film but you mentioned you were in Valley of the Dolls from the year before ‘Rosemary.’

EH: I was…, I think I opened a door; I don’t even know whether I said anything. What had happened was I had gotten to Hollywood, I was on route to New York to become a starving artist, I mean this is after Europe.

SG: Right. After your studies there.

EH: But I had a friend who was involved in the Columbia new talent program, Studio Players, and he got me involved so I immediately got an agent. One of the very first people she set me up to meet was Joe Scully who was a casting director at 20th Century Fox, and he was working on a film called Valley of the Dolls,’ and at that point they were screen testing and he liked me and I liked him and we hit it off and he said “You’re going to need your Screen Actors Guild card.” So he got them to basically write me in on screen tests. So I had like a week of screen testing with Patty duke and Barbara Parkins and Sharon Tate and when the film came around he put me in it! (laughs)

SG: Excellent!

EH: Right. I mean, basically he was just helping me to get my screen actors guild card, not that there was a specific role that was called for. And in a sense that’s also what happened with Rosemary’s Baby.’ My agency was the Bessie Loo Agency.  My agent was Angela Loo  her daughter, who began her career at the same time as mine. I got a call from my agent and she said “Oh, you have a job on Rosemary’s Baby’.” It was a bestseller in every showcase in the bookstores so I immediately rushed out, read the book twice, I called her back, I said are you sure you have the right movie? And she said “Yes, I have the contract right here in front of me!” I said well, what part do I have? She said “Well, I don’t know. I went in and tripped and fell – I was supposed to meet Roman Polanski and your picture was lying on top at his feet – and he said “Him. I want him.”” (laughs) And she said “Oh, but he’s my most expensive actor.” At that time I was her only actor (laughs) .  So I mean, if they say that’s what luck is, that’s what luck is. But, literally she tripped and fell, and my picture was on top because I had just met with her a couple days before, and she was a brand new agent and we both got our first jobs together with Roman Polanski.

SG: How lucky!

EH: And that’s how I got the job for Rosemary’s Baby’, and I walked on set and still didn’t know what the hell I was supposed to do!

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Actors Phil Leeds and Ernest Harada both appeared in the film ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and both  appeared in a Halloween episode of Roseanne with a ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ twist!

SG: And the scene you were in was filmed in California, I believe.

EH: Yes, it was filmed on the Paramount lot.

SG: Right. Do you recall around how long it took to film that final scene that you appear in in the film?

EH: You know, I think the original contract was for a week, but I think we went ten days.

SG: Wow! Ten days!

EH: Not that I knew much about film making; I mean I was a total newcomer. But what Roman was doing with the hand-held cameras without any kind of break… I mean I had worked on Valley of the Dolls so I knew what dolly shots were, and close-ups and how they set up a shot, but what Roman was doing with Rosemary’s Baby was having the camera on somebody’s shoulder walking through these elaborate sets all in one take! And even during the scene itself when Rosemary finally comes in, rather than using a tripod or a dolly, he had the cameraman literally over her shoulder filming reactions on people.  That’s how he could get really get an unbroken feeling from the audience viewpoint and from Rosemary’s viewpoint – of reactions. It was, as I  discovered later, a trend-setting technique.

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On Roman Polanski : “It was, as I discovered later, a trend-setting kind of thing he was doing.”

SG: Yes, it’s really a unique perspective. Everything in the film is from Rosemary’s point of view or the camera is always on her face or what she’s doing. There’s just something so enchanting or enthralling about that film with the camera work and the point-of-view.

EH: Exactly. Yes. And only someone who really understands how to put a film together appreciates what the camerawork was, and that’s what took up so much of the time. But in the film it was seamless, it was flawless. I think that was his secret to making it as horrific as it turned out to be; there’s an absolute smoothness about the whole thing and a reality – a different reality.

Please visit and “Like” our Rosemary’s Baby 50th Anniversary on Facebook!

SG: So, what was your impression of the role you were given in the film?

EH: Well, I asked Roman about that finally. I said my part isn’t in the book at all. He said “If you look around you see these Japanese business men all over the place and they all have cameras – they’re like in groups of three and four and five, and they’re running all over the world – Europe or America – and they all have cameras! I wanted to put that in, so you’re it!”

SG: Wow, what a stroke of genius.

EH: Well, he is. I think he is. A bonafide, certified genius.

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Ernest Harada on the left at the climactic moment of Rosemary’s Baby.

SG: Your character is quite conspicuous in the final scene. It’s kind of an odd character to discover there in that scene of the story.

EH: Yes. (laughs). Every character in that scene is kind of odd! (laughs)

SG: True. (laughs)

EH: It’s not a usual assemblage of folk.

SG: True! This selection of character actors and theater folk was really, I think, another example of Polanski’s genius; they all appear odd yet somehow familiar at the same time.

EH: Right. I mean individually you look at them and you think “Oh, she’s a nice old lady,” but in that setting suddenly that nice old lady has another dimension. The film made what was normal extraordinary. And a lot of those people – the older people – were extras but he cast them extremely well. Even I was kind of creeped out whenever we were on the set.

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Ruth Gordon as Minnie Castevet, behind her are Natalie Masters and Elmer Modlin.

SG: What was it like meeting with and working with the cast and crew there? Do you have any interesting memories of working with the actors?

EH: By the time they filmed that scene Mia [Farrow] was already getting divorced from Frank Sinatra. So she was experiencing an emotional trauma. Between takes she’d rush to her trailer, and she had a dressing trailer right in the middle of the sound stage, so we never saw her. But I became good friends with Sydney Blackmer and Ruth Gordon. And sometimes, I mean we had a lot of lunches together, Sydney was trying to bring me in and telling me I have to get to New York. That’s of course primarily where he was, he was a great matinee idol on the Broadway stage. And Ruth, Ruth Gordon hadn’t become the big star she was then. I mean she was primarily known as a writer. But she had just been to New York and seen ‘Cabaret’ the musical so she was singing the songs and tried to teach them to me. We were having a great time. And sometimes Patsy Kelly would join us. And that was pretty much it, I mean Sydney, Ruth, Patsy Kelly and myself; we hung-out around a lot during the filming.

Want to know ALL the witches in the Castevet’s coven? Read our article: All of Them Witches: A “Who’s Who” in Rosemary’s Baby

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Sydney Blackmer as Roman Castevet / Steven Marcato with Mia Farrow as Rosemary Woodhouse

SG: That’s so great! I was born in 1970 so I recall seeing a lot of Ruth Gordon and Patsy Kelly while growing up in the ’70’s.

EH: Yeah! They’re delightful people. I mean I love actors. I’ve spent my life with them!

SG: Was there any particular direction you were given for that final scene?

EH: No, it just was “Say this” or “Do this” and it would change on different takes.  I’ve worked with other directors who just say “Do it the way you feel it; that’s why I hired you. You’re the actor.” And Roman was a little like that in that he primarily worked with the camera people. I don’t recall him giving much acting direction – to any cast members, on the set. He may have said things to actors privately, but not on the set. Everyone pretty much knew what they were going to do and he pretty much let us do what we wanted to do with it.

SG: Your character really does seem like he just stepped off the airplane and your Japanese accent is perfect. I live in Japan so I was really intrigued by your character because I wondered ‘Did they just run to the airport and pick up this guy and hire a taxi to take him to the set? I mean he’s just flawless! But you must have been familiar with a Japanese accent I think.

EH: I had certainly heard enough of it! That was not a big stretch. I was good with a lot of accents though. Later on I’d go to interviews and they’d say “We need this part and we need it in a Japanese accent.” So I’d do it and this one producer said “That’s not a Japanese accent.” Excuse me? I asked him what he thought a Japanese accent was. And he said “Well, like Richard Loo in all the World War II films.” I said, “Well I hate to inform you, I know Richard Loo, he’s from Maui, and the accent he has is basically a Chinese accent. His name is Loo, that’s ChineseBut then that was typical of the kind of stereotypical treatment we got that I personally, fought so hard against. Why can’t I speak the way I speak? I mean, you want the Queen’s English? I’ll give you that (mockingly as a perturbed producer): “Oh no! No!”

SG: In that final scene, when you were on set, did you look in the bassinet? Was there a baby or a doll prop in that bassinet? Because in the film we never see a baby.

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EH: They later, I found out, tried to do a baby in the set and they realized that it was not horrific. But no, there was no baby in the bassinet. Mia did a fabulous job!

SG: She really did! When the movie came out do you recall any reactions from family or friends as to the story or the content of the film?

EH: Basically my people were actors and people involved in film, and this is in California and Hollywood, and they realized what a great horror film it was. My family was just happy to see me working. (laughs) But then they were not movie buffs or critics in any sense of the word. But no, even when it was first released there was a sizable group who realized that it was a great, great film. The fact that there was no blood; it was Hitchcokian in that sense, it was so suspenseful. Horrifically suspenseful with no blood or anything, it just slowly built into this horrendous ending. And it’s really a very unlikely story! (laughs) The Devil’s child! And Polanski made it happen! It became real! And that was really Ira Levin and Polanski. And really the story is kind of preposterous.

SG: Yes, truly. It’s almost a little humorous; like darkly humorous, in a sense.

EH: Exactly! But they made it very real.

SG: And without all the blood and violence. These days every horror film I see relies way  too much on graphic effects and gore. Rosemary’s Baby is such a perfect film without any of that; the horror is all cerebral.

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EH: Yeah, and the other film that’s always referenced, as far as horror films, is The Exorcist! And Rosemary’s Baby doesn’t have all that slime all over the place or the heads turning 360 degrees, and bodies flying out windows… You know as an artist I realize the artistry in ‘Rosemary’s Baby.’ I mean the effects it got from so little was extraordinary. I mean I can’t think of another horror film of that kind of a caliber.

SG: Me either. Do you have any opinions on the cultural impact of Rosemary’s Baby?

EH: The cultural impact is when people say “What films were you in?” and I’ve done a number, I mean I starred with Tom Hanks and John Candy [in Volunteers, 1985]  but the one I mention is ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and everybody instantly knows it. It’s certainly become a classic. And they say “Oh, what part did you play in ‘Rosemary’s Baby’?” and I tell them ‘The baby, of course!’ And they say “What?!”

SG: (laughs) That’s funny!

EH: Yeah, well then they say “Hey wait a minute! There wasn’t a baby!” But I’ve seen, subsequently, maybe on Youtube, them trying to put a baby together that was properly horrific. And I’m glad they didn’t because the baby that your mind creates of course is even more frightening than anything they could show you practically. Your mind creates that baby; but that was the entire film, you know?

“…they say “Oh, what part did you play in ‘Rosemary’s Baby‘?” and I tell them ‘The baby, of course!'”

SG: Right. Now, I kind of skipped over your appearances on Broadway. A few nights ago my wife and I watched ‘Pacific Overtures’ on Youtube. You seemed as comfortable  onstage as you did in front of the camera. Do you prefer one over the other?

EH: I have always loved the stage. Mainly because when you are performing onstage it’s just you and the audience, whereas with film it is always through the director’s eyes and the actor really has no control over anything. You come up with a performance but whether that performance even winds up in the final cut is another matter, much less what form it takes. I mean it’s filtered through the director. Whereas on the stage, once you’re onstage, it’s you and the audience, and I’ve always loved that. In fact I’ve used my film and television career to finance my stage work. The stage does not pay. I did a lot of stage in places like Milwaukee and La Jolla and I was losing money, going out of town to do these plays, but that’s where my heart was.

SG: You’re a true artist.

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Ernest Harada during the original 1976 Broadway cast recording of ‘Pacific Overtures’ written by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman.

EH: Well, it’s what I loved, and I believe in pursuing what you love. Do it! And I didn’t get rich and famous but I had a very fulfilling life as an artist.

One time a writer-producer told me he was putting together a TV series, and that I and a certain well known movie star would be perfect in it together. But I was on my way to Broadway to do Pacific Overtures – a chance of a lifetime. Until then, the last show to include Asians in the cast was ‘Flower Drum Song’ 20 years earlier, and after ‘Pacific Overtures’ the only show to include Asians in the cast was ‘Miss Saigon’ twenty years later! So if ever I was going to do Broadway I had to take it. Of course I could not call myself an actor and turn down Broadway for television. And maybe that was a dumb move, I don’t know. But then I’ve never regretted doing Broadway; it’s one of the crowning achievements in my life, more so than anything I did in film.

SG: I agree. I imagine it’s a really wonderful experience.

Link: Ernest Harada performs Welcome to Kanagawa from Pacific Overtures.

EH: Well, to be on Broadway you’re on the creme de la creme; you know? I mean just many people never even get there. Film – you can take somebody off the street and make a star. With Broadway it requires work. It’s discipline. It’s the art of acting and performing. And no, there was no way I could turn it down, and wisely so. I mean twenty years later ‘Miss Saigon’ comes into town and we had to protest it because the lead role – this supposedly Asian man – was cast with Jonathan Price!

SG: Really?!

EH: It was a big hit in London. Cameron Mackintosh was as big a producer as you could possibly get at that time; he was going to bring it to New York and, it was going to be a smash hit. So we went through Actor’s Equity; they would all need to be permitted by Actor’s Equity to bring the London people over. Colleen Dewhurst was then president of Actor’s Equity and we explained our plight to her. The claim was that there were no Asian stars, according to Mackintosh. Our argument to Colleen and the Actor’s Equity board was, how can there be an Asian star when we are never even given the opportunity to play the Asian roles?

“…how can there be an Asian star when we are never even given the opportunity to play the Asian roles?”

SG: Right?!

EH: So I said, you tell me any Asian who’s played ‘The King And I’ and they couldn’t! Because it had never been played by an Asian. And I said it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that there’s no Asian stars if we are never given the opportunity! Not even to audition! We’re not even in the consideration. This happened in films too. The last leading Asian man was Sessue Hayakawa from way back in the the 1930’s!

Anyway we stopped the show from opening for a while and that was important. Then our biggest advocate, Colleen, died. Now, 25 years later, there is some progress. They have just revived the show on Broadway and the lead character is being played by an Asian. It is gratifying, and I am very proud of what we have done to create this opportunity.

SG: Wow! That’s so great. Now, I have a Devil In the Details question which I would like to ask you, and anyone who I get the chance to interview: What do you consider evil in today’s society?

EH:  I think evil is any deliberate act of cruelty.  It is selfishness and greed. Evil is what you get when you lack empathy and altruism.  In our current society I would say that we, as a country, have focused on the wrong things.  Money and greed at the expense of everything else.  I don’t see how you cannot provide healthcare for everyone and how you cannot protect the environment that we exist in.  I don’t understand how you can dismantle environmental protection and not think of your grandchildren down the line. I don’t see how you can believe money will protect you from a  totally diseased and totally polluted world.  Evil is selfishness and greed.

SG: Very well said, Mr. Harada and thank you so much; this has been not only an honor and a privilege but a real pleasure to be able to call you and speak with you. You have been so kind and generous with your time.

EH: You are very welcome. Aloha.

SG: Aloha.

This interview took place on April 7th, 2017 Tokyo time, April 6th Honolulu time.

Want to know ALL the witches in the Castevet’s coven? Read our article: All of Them Witches: A “Who’s Who” in Rosemary’s Baby