‘This Is No Dream: Making Rosemary’s Baby’ – A Book Review

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‘This Is No Dream; Making Rosemary’s Baby’

Text by: James Munn

Special Photographer: Bob Willoughby

From: Reel Art Press, 2018

206 pages, hardcover. LOTS of photos!

♥♥♥♥♥ 5 Black Hearts (=love it)

The legend behind the making of a horror classic!

Fans of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ have waited 50 years for a collectible item to be made available to the general movie going public – beyond maybe a poster, or the blue ray DVD with it’s extra features.  But all good things come to those who wait! Finally, we are offered a feast that lingers on our favorite devil movie. Famed Director Roman Polanski’s faithful cinematic version of Ira Levin’s bestselling novel was released in 1968. Now, just in time for the golden anniversary of this diabolical classic, Reel Art Press presents us with a treasure of a book guaranteed to carry the merely curious and the serious film fan behind the scenes of this landmark cinematic production.

The book itself is a large quality hardcover of over 200 pages that spills over with marvelous color, and black and white, pictures by lauded film set and celebrity photographer Bob Willoughby. Quite a fair number of these pictures are seen here for the first time! As Polanski’s voyeuristic lens recorded a classic suspense horror thriller for the ages, Willoughby’s camera caught the intimate on-the-set moments of it’s making.

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Mia Farrow and Ruth Gordon on the set of Rosemary’s Baby. Photo: Bob Willoughby.               Reel Art Press.

The text by James Munn takes us on an insider’s journey through the film’s production, from it’s start as the novel was picked up for film rights even before it had barely reached the bestseller list, through it’s troubled production plagued by tensions – both economical and emotional (Good Lord! The drama!), to it’s momentous popular release during the time of a major cultural revolution in American society,  and to the aftermath of it’s wide influence ever since. We are given lots of information and insight from those who were there or directly involved, and encounter the amazing personalities – Roman Polanski, William Castle, Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon and more – that contributed to this tremendously influential film.

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John Cassavetes. photo: Bob Willoughby. Reel Art Press.

Reel Art Press has done a fantastic service in the quality artistic presentation of the photos and text. Fans of Rosemary’s Baby, satanic cinemaphiles, and those interested in the workings of the film industry will all find this book of fascinating interest as much for it’s insights as for it’s delicious photography. A must-have treasure for any serious Rosemary’s Baby devotee in your life. A coffee table art book Minnie and Roman Castevet would adore! Would make a great Christmas present!

Link to video ad for the book :

This Is No Dream; making Rosemary’s Baby

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From the back cover of ‘This Is No Dream, making Rosemary’s Baby’ from Reel Art Press.

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Read our interview with Rosemary’s Baby cast alumnus Ernest Harada:

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

Or some of our other articles on Rosemary’s Baby:

13 Ways You Can Celebrate “Rosemary’s Baby’s 50th Anniversary”

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

‘Rosemary’s Baby’: Raped by The Shadow

‘Rosemary’s Baby’ Turns 50 !

Sympathy for the Devil: The Sublime Satanism of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

 

My Baby Rose Marie: A meditation on Horror Film and Spiritual Understanding

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Detail from the original cover of Ira Levin’s novel, 1967.

This is not an easy article to write… and there are many ways of getting this wrong, or misinterpreting my intentions. This is a very personal article which does somehow relate to my fascinations with diabolical horror, religion and spirituality in my personal experience; please bear with me.    –   H.B.G.

My obsession with the story Rosemary’s Baby, as popular novel and film, goes way back into my pre-teen days; and my love of diabolical and occult horror in general goes back even earlier. After a brief look at this website my profound interest in Rosemary’s Baby will become quickly obvious. I won’t try to explain this general attraction towards occult horror; but, I first ought to try to express why I think this particular story has had such a lasting and personal significance to me.

I sympathize with the character Rosemary Woodhouse because she is a Madonna figure; or maybe, at first, after the horrific revelation at the end of the story, a reluctant Madonna. She loves her unborn child and does everything within her power to protect it from a perceived threat of harm from a coven of witches. After the discovery of her baby and the revelation of it’s satanic paternity, and after the initial shock wears off a bit, Rosemary comes to accept and love the child just as she always did. As she always knew she would.images-4

This causes sympathy at the end of Rosemary’s Baby for those sensitive souls who contemplate the mystery within the story. This is the main point: the limitless reaches of Mother Love, of complete parental acceptance of a child despite it’s demonic appearance or diabolical destiny. We question if it is not in fact a happy ending, or… what?!

As a youth I felt terribly flawed, imperfect, weak, and worse than worthless. My family loved me but I was “different.” Midwest American society and religion, in the form of my Protestant upbringing in a small city, was ever quick to point out a particular damning spiritual defect I noticed within myself, a defect I was desperate to conceal as much as possible. But to broach  this topic is to open a whole other can of worms I choose not to deal with here.

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Black Sabbath album cover 1983 This image has always reminded us of this line from The Raven: “And his eyes have all the seeming, of a demon’s that is dreaming….”        E.A. Poe

That a mother or father could love such a “damned” thing despite it’s “sinful” nature flies in the face of God and becomes heresy. Therefore, I developed heretical ideas and beliefs at quite a tender age. Stand unashamedly, even defiantly, before The Almighty with your child – whatever his or her nature, is one way of looking at it. After reading and watching Rosemary’s Baby, I wanted to have a devil baby myself, a child which would otherwise be shameful or unwanted, and love it as my own, and bring it up to be whatever it was meant to be, in perfect love and understanding. Like that devil baby image I saw on junior high  classmate’s Black Sabbath t-shirts back in the eighties. I would have loved to care for Rosemary’s Baby. Now, in hindsight,  I know it was my own self I wanted to love… but couldn’t. A monstrous view of myself caused by small-minded religious trauma.

Fast forward through years of spiritual questing, learning, depression, art, a little therapy – professional or otherwise, some very strange and wonderful religious and occult experiences and wide ranging experimentation and different relationships, and I’m now a married father of two beautiful children (one boy, one girl) living in Japan, until the birth of our third child last October, just a couple days before Halloween… It seemed only natural for us to call her Rose Marie, Marie being a family name on my mother’s side, asides from the 50th anniversary of Ira Levin’s diabolical fable.

We knew Rose Marie was a girl. We knew she would be delivered via c-section just as our previous two were because that’s the way it’s done in Japan. We knew the c-section was scheduled to be October 30th – also known as Devil’s Night (natural birth would have been a week later on November 6th – my own birthday). We knew Rose Marie was destined to be a Scorpio – like her daddy. We were a little surprised when the maternity clinic staff decided to do a c-section earlier than scheduled – on the 29th – due to my wife’s condition. We blamed it on the typhoon we were experiencing. What we didn’t know and were totally unprepared for was that Rose Marie had one extra chromosome number 21, technically called Trisomy 21, commonly referred to as Down syndrome.

We were not told right away. Not sure what the standard practice is in Japan but it was two days after the delivery, on Halloween, after they unexpectedly relocated baby Rose Marie from the maternity clinic to a university hospital. Quite possibly nobody on staff wanted the burden of breaking the news to me, the father, in English. We were told there were some  concerns about our baby’s oxygen levels, but she is doing alright. I was so busy looking after my other two that my time with our newest baby those first days was very limited. I thought she looked a bit funny but I thought nothing of it since all newborns look strange.

After being admitted into the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and washing my hands I found two serious faced doctors standing by one of a dozen or so plastic bassinets and incubators waiting to see me. The first doctor spoke English and asked me if I noticed anything different about this baby from my other two children. Somewhat bewildered, I looked at my baby and commented something about her eyes… it wasn’t possible for her to open them yet on her own, and her cheeks seeming swollen. All newborns look funny and squished after all. The first doctor (the second one didn’t speak at all, as I recall, probably not confident enough in his English ability) asked if I noticed something different about her ears, that they were set a little lower than normal. The bridge of her nose slightly squashed, a lack of muscle tone, the presence of extra skin on the back of the neck….

The word “shock” is appropriate here. You could have knocked me over with a feather were I not so numb and dumb. Did I stop breathing? I don’t remember what was said –  something about more tests being needed but that Down syndrome was likely. But that there didn’t seem to be any heart problems or other immediate concerns, and she seemed strong. The doctors faded away into the background to leave me with my baby.

“My explorations into the occult and mysticism have taught me much, one of the greatest and most persistent being to release fear and to embrace the darkness; it has so much wisdom to offer.”

I stood there in the NICU of a foreign land staring down into a plastic bassinet at a little creature resting uneasily with tubes and wires attached. Beeping, crying sounds, and staff speaking in Japanese in the background around me as they tended their precious charges. I was alone with this tremendous revelation, my wife back at the maternity clinic still recovering from c-section surgery – probably very worried. A chair was brought over and I was told to sit down.

I sat there and stared at Marie-chan. I laid my big hand lightly on her little body, above her heart; my hand covered her entire torso. I had no clue as to what to do. I was feeling a very heavy weight being dropped on my shoulders as I looked at her squished and swollen features. After a little time a nurse approached and asked if I’d like to hold her. “Can I ?” I asked, stupidly.

Can I? Can I do this?

I was so careful because of an IV tube and wires attached to monitors. So small and helpless. I held her. She was so light, so fragile. Happy Halloween, Mr Gardner. Trick or treat?

Such darkness. Such heaviness overwhelmed me. An unspeakable darkness. My hands hesitate to type for fear to implicate myself and my own dreadful thoughts. An evil born of fear and ignorance conjured the worst ideas into my head, then. Ideas masquerading as merciful, which must have been fairly common actions in the time of our ancestors a few generations back when faced with such a situation, when there were fields to till and mouths to feed and back-breaking labor and no time or economy for compassionate nursing.

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Artwork: uncredited, please enlighten us.

But this is my baby. The little Scorpio girl I’d been expecting. My little Rose Marie. Were my parents still alive how would they react? They adored their grandchildren.

I wanted to comfort the flawed and helpless little creature in my arms. She was surrounded by strangers, all good staff, I’m sure, but it’s their job. They weren’t family, and could not be completely loving, as such. They have enough to keep them busy. How to do it? I stared at the cartoon fish, frogs and animals on the walls and over at the industrial sink. I tried not to stare at the other babies in the NICU, some looked much weaker and in more need than my little one. Well, I’ve always sung to my babies, or hummed, when so small, a way of affirming to the little consciousness snuggled in my arms that a caring presence was there. But at that moment, believe it or not, I could not think of a single lullaby, not a one could come to mind or memory! My brain and tongue were frozen. Now, of course, I can list them all: Hush Little Baby, Rock-a-bye Baby, Twinkle, twinkle little star…. But nothing, not a lyric or tune came to mind.

Irony of ironies, only one lullaby came to me as I sat holding my youngest in that NICU in Osaka University Hospital: the opening and closing lullaby theme to the film Rosemary’s Baby; the “La la la la….” sung by Mia Farrow herself. I began to hum it quietly, that sad, sweet, haunting and somehow comforting tune, as I looked down at my youngest, my Rose Marie.

Link to listen:

Krzysztof Komeda – Lullaby – (Rosemary’s Baby – 1968) sung by Mia farrow

My explorations into the occult and mysticism have taught me much, one of the greatest and most persistent being to release fear and to embrace the darkness; it has so much wisdom to offer.

Under the respectfully-distant-but-ever-at-hand-presence of the NICU staff I was able to change Rose Marie’s diaper and to bottle feed her that first Halloween. I feared the bond which I felt forming. I wasn’t sure I could nurture this bond. (Can I? Can I do this?) That night, Aidan and Lily, our two others at home with my mother-in-law, danced around a candlelit Jack O’ lantern as I stared numbly at the grimacing face of the flickering pumpkin. Trick or Treat, indeed. But those first few weeks following the birth were very difficult and dark and full of a bleak sadness for us.

“We now consider ourselves lucky, blessed, chosen.”

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Mia farrow in the final scene of Rosemary’s Baby, 1968.

Fast forward to today. Rose Marie is nearly nine months old now and doing very well, despite the regular “irregular” digestive trouble common among Trisomy 21 babies. My wife and I have come a very long way since last Halloween; we have discovered a new kind of normal (whatever that means!). Rose Marie, or Mari-chan, is a special light in our lives and we cannot imagine life without her. We have reached epiphany after epiphany. About half of babies born with Down syndrome require neonatal heart surgery or some sort of digestive tract surgery. It is about a one in a thousand chance to get a baby with Down syndrome. Most do not even make it to full term and birth. We now consider ourselves lucky, blessed, chosen. Rose Marie is an angel who has enlightened our souls, and her smiles and giggles and cuddles are absolutely enchanting. She dispels the darkness and has ushered in so much light and opened us up to a wider world. It is amazing how the human heart can adapt, change, grow… how a tremendous spiritual upheaval which dashes the soul upon the rocks of harsh physical reality, shattering it apart from the frail and selfish ego, can strengthen one and raise the spirit higher.

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Me with Rose Marie

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Mari-chan

Thanks for reading.

You can follow Rose Marie on instagram:

Follow Rose Marie on Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/marie102921/

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and our Rosemary’s Baby 50th Anniversary Page on Facebook

 

13 Ways You Can Celebrate “Rosemary’s Baby’s 50th Anniversary”

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Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes in the greatest film ever: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

By: H.B.G.

Some of you know how “our” passion for Rosemary’s Baby goes way beyond any normal level of diabolical decency. Rosemary’s Baby is truly it’s own little world, one we’ve stepped into and walked around in many times (Believe us, we realize how that sounds and the danger we’re in of convincing you of our potential basket-weaving skills).

We have seen Roman Polanski’s film version more times than we can say and our current paperback edition of Ira Levin’s novel (we’ve gone through a few) is highlighted, dog-eared and underlined in. Along with it rests a notebook of details culled from the novel and film, and ideas (culled from our imagination) for every single character in the Castevet’s coven – a sincere (if misguided) attempt at study for a series of prequel related short fiction in relation to the novel, ( i.e. background stories for Adrian Marcato, Minnie & Roman Castevet, Dr Sapirstein, Laura-Louise and all the other coven members). Ideas for a collection of short fiction which would take us on a journey through events in these characters lives up until the very first page of the novel (or frame of the film).

We are pleased to see some recognition beginning to appear regarding this golden jubilee, which we’ve been promoting out of our own enthusiasm, for over a year now in our own little way, via this Devil In The Details site and our Rosemary’s Baby 50th Anniversary facebook page. We started the #RosemarysBaby50thAnniversary hashtag out of a genuine love for the novel and film.

Visit Ira Levin.org where you can enjoy Rosemary’s Baby Album – an online feature that celebrates the novel’s 50th anniversary with unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at it’s creation, using author Ira Levin’s actual notes, drafts and archival materials. There is also a  “making of” book about the 1968 film to be released this July (of course we’ve pre-ordered a copy  through Amazon).

So, how devoted of a Rosemary’s Baby fan are you? How far will you go to celebrate this landmark cultural phenomenon? We have a few ideas… Here are 13 ways (an appropriate number for a witches’ coven) to celebrate Rosemary’s Baby’s 50th Anniversary.

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5oth Anniversary edition

 1. Read the novel by Ira Levin. It is still enjoyable, still relevant, still chilling and very good reading. Reading the novel last year or this year unlocks the Golden Jubilee level of Rosemary’s Baby fandom.

There are several details and insights to be found in the novel which didn’t make it into the film. For example, it describes Rosemary’s get-away to Hutch’s cabin for a week while she deals with feelings of neglect by her husband Guy; the novel also lets us know what exactly is running through Rosemary’s mind during that climactic final scene.

Subtle hints of the diabolical plot, which may go unnoticed in the film, are brought out in reading – like the significance of hearing the Castevet’s door chime is noticed at a certain point in the novel which a casual viewer may miss in the film. Subtle, but telling.

cropped-rosemarysbaby-mia-farrow-paramount.jpg2. Watch the 1968 film. It is truly one of the best suspense thrillers ever made. Make it a drinking game: take a shot of your favorite drink every time Mia Farrow appears in a different outfit. If you make it to the end of the film without passing out you have officially unlocked the “Hail Satan” level of Rosemary’s Baby fandom.

tumblr_oo7nizixwx1v00mydo1_500 3. Play a game of Scrabble. Extra points are due if you manage to spell “witch,” “Tannis,” “Satan,” or “Adrian“. This activity unlock’s the Guy and Rosemary Woodhouse level of Rosemary’s Baby fandom.

rgeyes4. Mix up some vodka blushes. But be sure to spill a little on the carpet in honor of Roman and Minnie Castevet. This unlocks the Minnie and Roman Castevet level of Rosemary’s Baby fandom.

Vodka Blush Recipie:

  • 2 1/2 ounces Vodka
  • 3/4 ounces freshly-squeezed lime juice (strained)
  • Dash Grenadine
  • Fill shaker 2/3 with fresh ice. Add ingredients. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a fresh sprig of Rosemary.
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The most exclusive residence in Manhattan

5. Go to New York City and visit the Dakota apartment building (or Alwyn Court apartments building where author Ira Levin once lived and was the original inspiration for the Bramford). Tell the doorman that the Castevets on the 7th floor are expecting you (bonus points if you’re carrying a gift wrapped baby present with a black ribbon). If the doorman gives you grief, ask to speak to Diego because he’s always on duty. You may be forcibly ejected from the premises but you can rest assured that you have officially unlocked the Bramford level of Rosemary’s Baby fandom. Alternatively, visit Yankee Stadium and ask when the Pope is expected to arrive. Consider traveling by Yamaha motorbike.

Unknown-2 6. Go to Vidal Sassoon and get a pixie cut. This officially unlocks the Mia Farrow level of Rosemary’s Baby fandom.

7. Make a chocolate mousse but call it “chocolate mouse” and bring some over to your neighbors. Tell them they’re extra and you don’t need them. This officially unlocks the Minnie Castevet level of Rosemary’s Baby fandom (bonus points if you ask your neighbors how much they paid for items inside their home)From the novel: “The cups were filled with peaked swirls of chocolate. Guy’s was topped with a sprinkling of chopped nuts, and Rosemary’s with a half walnut.” In case you were wondering, that’s how Rosemary got the “mouse” meant for her.

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Ruth Gordon and Mia Farrow, Rosemary’s Baby 1968

8. Trade ties with someone you despise or covet and wish them to go blind. This unlocks the Guy Woodhouse level of Rosemary’s Baby fandom. If the intended victim really does go blind, you have officially unlocked the Adrian Marcato level of Rosemary’s Baby fandom. Alternatively, hide a friend’s glove – only one of a pair – and if your friend goes into a coma, you have officially unlocked the Mrs Gardenia/Hutch level of Rosemary’s Baby fandom (and you really ought to be ashamed of yourself!!).

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Mia Farrow and Victoria Vetri (AKA Angela Dorian).

9. Do your laundry in a creepy basement laundry facility. Bonus points if  “a dead infant wrapped in newspaper” has ever been found on the premises. If you meet a woman of Italian heritage, or hear glass breaking, you have officially unlocked the Rosemary Woodhouse and Terry Gionoffrio level of Rosemary’s Baby fandom.

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Patsy Kelley as Laura Louise

 10. Buy or make a set of black baby clothes, or knit a black baby hat with horns or cloven hoof booties for someone you know is expecting a baby. This officially unlocks the Laura Louise level of Rosemary’s Baby fandom. In the novel we are informed that Laura Louise is knitting a pair of “shaped-all-wrong booties” for Rosemary’s baby.

images-2111. Buy a bunch of red roses for your wife and say “Happy Rosemary’s Baby‘s 50th Anniversary, Darling!” If she spits in your face, you have successfully unlocked the Guy Woodhouse level of Rosemary’s Baby fandom!

Alternatively, invite your friends and throw a loud party but be sure to exclude any nosey old neighbors. Afterwards, get in an argument with your spouse that ends in tearful laughter and an uncomfortably silent cleaning mode. This also officially unlocks the Guy and Rosemary Woodhouse level of Rosemary’s Baby fandom.

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Kitchen Witchin’ : Mia Farrow as Rosemary and Ruth Gordon as Minnie with the “spice garden” in the background.

12. Start an herb garden. Rosemary dreams of having a spice garden of her own someday. Maybe you’ll select a witch’s pharmacy of either psychoactive or poisonous plants, but you should at least get a rosemary plant potted and set in a sunny location – tradition says that rosemary growing by the front door of a home will keep your spouse faithful. Being a green witch is another way to unlock the Minnie Castevet level of Rosemary’s Baby fandom.

rb1013. If you are expecting a child of your own, name him Adrian, or her Rosemary. We did this ourselves last October for our youngest ‘Rose Marie’ (born two days before Halloween) and have thereby successfully unlocked the Adrian Marcato level of Rosemary’s Baby fandom. (Yes, seriously, but Marie also happens to be a family name).

Please visit and “Like” our Rosemarys Baby 50th Anniversary Facebook page:

Rosemarys Baby 50th Anniversary Facebook page

Use your own imagination and celebrate Rosemary’s Baby’s 50th Anniversary any way you choose. Maybe you’ll write a love letter to Mia Farrow, or… you could send a book on witchcraft to a friend along with the cryptic message that “The name is an anagram.” Try arranging to have a screening of the film at a local cinema and have live performers act-out the characters and scenes a la Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow cast style. The possibilities are endless. WOW! 50 years! This is no dream! This is really happening!

Closest  to our hearts are: an interview we did with actor Ernest Harada who portrayed the Japanese photographer in the final scene of the film which you can read here: An Interview with Ernest Harada: Celebrating 50 years of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ which we did last year; our correspondence with actress Victoria Vetri, (AKA Angela Dorian)  who portrayed the character Terry Gionoffrio – the Castevet’s young houseguest – in the film, who is now free from prison but is occupied with adjusting to life “on the outside” and for whom we are praying for the best in her continuing rehabilitation; and last but not least, a source very close to departed author Ira Levin who complimented our Devil In The Details site for our efforts toward promoting Rosemary’s Baby‘s 50th anniversaries – novel and film – and who is also responsible for the exquisite #RosemarysBabyAlbum at IraLevin.org. These people, along with Mia Farrow, Roman Polanski, and Charles Grodin (surviving cast and crew of the film) – are due for recognition for their significant contributions to cinematic or literary history.

Let’s hope we see more recognition for this classic diabolical novel and film.

‘Rosemary’s Baby Album’: Legacy of a Classic Diabolical Thriller

IraLevin.org now presents ‘Rosemary’s Baby Album’ on it’s website, and it is a very special treat for Rosemary Fans!

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Screenshot courtesy of IraLevin.org

The novel ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ by renowned author and playwright Ira Levin has had a wide and abiding impact upon all things thriller, mystery, and horror since it was first published 50 years ago in March 1967. Levin himself said in 2002, “I feel guilty that ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ led to ‘The Exorcist,’ ‘The Omen.’ A whole generation has been exposed, has more belief in Satan. I don’t believe in Satan. And I feel that the strong fundamentalism we have would not be as strong if there hadn’t been so many of these books […] Of course, I didn’t send back any of the royalty checks.” 

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of this classic diabolical occult thriller, IraLevin.org now presents ‘Rosemary’s Baby Album’ on it’s website, and it is a very special treat for Rosemary Fans! With Ira Levin’s personal archival materials and notes tastefully arranged and many exciting insights into the writer’s creative process.

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Screenshot courtesy of IraLevin.org

Note: #RosemarysBabyAlbum hashtag for easy sharing via social media.

ONLINE FEATURE “ROSEMARY’S BABY ALBUM”CELEBRATES NOVEL’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY WITH UNPRECEDENTED BEHIND-THE-SCENES LOOK AT ITS CREATION, USING AUTHOR IRA LEVIN’S ACTUAL NOTES, DRAFTS AND ARCHIVAL MATERIALS

(New York, March 20, 2018) Ira Levin’s perennial classic “Rosemary’s Baby” turned 50 in 2017, and in celebration of that milestone, IraLevin.org has released “Rosemary’s Baby Album,” a new 28-page online feature which traces the archetypal work’s development using high-resolution scans of Levin’s actual notes, drafts and related ephemera from its writing, starting with the first known setting-down of its premise on a single notepad page, in 1960.

#RosemarysBabyAlbum provides an unprecedented opportunity to peek over Levin’s shoulder, as the author that Stephen King called “the Swiss watchmaker of the suspense novel” conceives and structures his iconic tale – considering, tweaking, or outright rejecting alternate titles, character names and plot trajectories. The album also reveals some fascinating connections between real life, and the world of “Rosemary’s Baby”.

“Rosemary’s Baby Album” can be viewed online now at http://www.iralevin.org

About IraLevin.org: IraLevin.org is the official Ira Levin website, created and maintained by his estate to serve as a comprehensive source of information about his works.

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Screenshot courtesy of IraLevin.org

Levin’s worth as a literary craftsman is exemplified not only in the perpetual in-print status of his novels or the fact that his best-known play, Deathtrap, holds the record as the longest running comedy thriller on Broadway; his competence as a storyteller is also apparent in the adaptation of nearly every one of his novels (and his play Deathtrap) into popular cinematic film versions. Also to be noted are his novels ‘A Kiss Before Dying,’ ‘Sliver,’ and ‘Son of Rosemary’ (a sequel which he dedicated to Mia Farrow who portrayed Rosemary in the now classic horror film version). A few of his novels have even worked their way into our idiomatic language within popular culture – making  The Stepford Wives, The Boys From Brazil and Rosemary’s Baby into a kind of cultural shorthand for ideas represented in these compelling and believable stories.

Unknown-2 copyAnd that is a skill Ira Levin truly had and which lives on in his work: he made the unthinkable into wholly believable parables of modern existence. We step into an Ira Levin novel on firm concrete, with matter-of-fact details both mundane and familiar, yet somehow he cleverly manages to sweep the rug out from under our very feet, so that we lose our balance with an ever increasing sense of panic-dread at the strange and unforeseeable circumstances which draw inevitably tighter around the characters we encounter there. Indeed, it is due in part to the film maker’s close adhesion to the novel – nearly word-for-word – that gives Roman Polanski’s 1968 film version it’s high quality.

images-6 copy 3We may take “Stepford Wives,” “Boys from Brazil” and “Rosemary’s Babies” for granted today because these premises have been lifted from their novel (and cinematic) sources so often – and repeated in any number of various media formats – from the plethora of Devil Baby movies to TV comedy sketches – that they have become part of our collective consciousness, and have even developed into tropes of their own! But we shouldn’t forget the origins of these stories, or Ira Levin’s ingenuity at placing them so deliberately and carefully packaged on our front doorsteps that we don’t notice the dangers hidden within them until it’s too late (and, by then, you are unable to stop turning the pages)!

Article by H.B. Gardner

#RosemarysBabyAlbum

#RosemarysBaby50thAnniversary 

“The Year One”: A Rededication

By: H. B. G.

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Actress Hazel Court, as the Lady Juliana, betrothes herself to Satan in Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death, 1964. This is the first instance in cinema history where an inverted cross is used as a symbol of Satanism.

We have managed to maintain this WordPress-fueled website for one whole year now. We are delighted at this meager accomplishment by one man (who may, or may not, be possessed by many incubi). What started off as an obsession with the film Rosemary’s Baby and an intention to make a single blog post delineating the minor characters in it has expanded into a repository for our occult horror obsession – here: Satanic Cinema Sommelier; Our Favorite Devilish Films and on our Devil May Care Facebook page , as well as our Rosemary’s Baby 50th Anniversary Facebook Page.

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Mia Farrow and Victoria Vetri (aka Angela Dorian) in Rosemary’s Baby.

This past year we have, out of our own zeal, interviewed a surviving cast member of Roman Polanski’s film of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ ( An Interview with Ernest Harada: Celebrating 50 years of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ ) and have been keeping a correspondence with the actress Victoria Vetri (aka Angela Dorian) who played Terry Gionofrio – the Castevet’s ill-fated houseguest in ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ – from her prison cell in a California Institution, but who is now nearing a release date.

We have never before been a collector of autographs, but 2017 was our year for them due to our commitment to our writing on this site.

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Our Holiday card and an autographed picture from actress Victoria Vetri who is nearing her release from prison.

This month, We rededicate ourselves to this project. So, in the spirit of Rosemary’s Baby (the 50th Anniversary of the Satanic classic film thriller is this year) and “The Year One”:

Black candles are lit, the chalice is filled, and the cross-shaped brand smolders in the brazier…

We remain committed to keeping this site as a means of exploring the diabolical, the occult, and religion (and the things it demonizes) in horror films – and in reality – out of our own pleasure, and as a serious interest in the sway that religion and the mysterious, unseen forces of existence inspire and motivate the minds and hearts of individuals, groups and nations worldwide.

We have managed one year with at least one monthly contribution to our site, some are in-depth articles such as our explorations of Suspiria ( SUSPIRIA: In the Eye of the Peacock , SUSPIRIA: Dario, De Quincey and the Dark Goddess; Part 1SUSPIRIA: Dario, De Quincey & the Dark Goddess; Part 2 etc..)

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We were able to get Jessica Harper’s Suspiria autograph with a modest charitable donation to the Houston Food Bank last year.

and Rosemary’s Baby ( ‘Sympathy for the Devil: The Sublime Satanism of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ , An Interview with Ernest Harada: Celebrating 50 years of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ , ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ Turns 50 ! ), etc…

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Ernest Harada was very kind to give us an interview as well as autograph a photo for us.

Some other posts are much lighter fare but are hopefully at least entertaining brain candy for the diabolically inclinedAll of Them Witches: A”Who’s Who” in Rosemary’s Baby , Women From Hell: Cinema’s Greatest Ladies from Hades , ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ 2017 Fantasy Remake & Dream Cast.

Indirectly related to all this is the work we started in 2017 with the Arcana Tarot Study Group in Osaka, Japan where we currently reside. This group’s mission is to help spread knowledge of using the Tarot via the medium of English; and to improve the skills of English students via the Tarot, here in Japan.

As a father, husband, teacher, writer, reader, mystic and artist, our energies are rapidly absorbed, day-by-day, by our esoteric interests and the gaping jaws of Time; yet we inevitably find ourselves drawn back to exploring the shadowy realms of occult horror, like a sincere Seeker of Truth…, or a dog to it’s vomit.

“But whatever lies behind the door, there’s nothing much to do,

Angel or Devil, I don’t care,

For in front of that door… is you.”

                                                    – Bowie     ‘My Death’

 

‘Rosemary’s Baby’ 2017 – 2018 Fantasy Remake & Dream Cast

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By: H.B.G.

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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. Ira Levin‘s 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.

Check out our related article: 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.

Check out our article on the Castevet Coven:

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

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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 (currently 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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Photo edit: Victoria Vetri aka Angela Dorian in July 2018.

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,  perhaps in the American Horror Story series. Oh please! Please! Please make it happen! (2018) EDIT: Victoria is now free and available for limited access in the LA area.

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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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Check out our interview with a charming original cast member :        An Interview with Ernest Harada: Celebrating 50 years of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

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.

 

 

 

 

Edit: 6/21/2019 – Or if Daria Nicolodi (current age 69) is available… we’d love to see her back onscreen! As a veteran of Giallo and Horror – and with talent and inimitable presence – Daria Nicolodi remains a film fan’s favorite.

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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?

Read our article:

‘Rosemary’s Baby’ Turns 50 !

 

A Japanese view of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

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By: H.B.G.

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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

‘Rosemary’s Baby’ Japanese souvenir book

sim  Vintage souvenir picture folios

‘Rosemary’s Baby’ Turns 50 !

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By: H.B.G.

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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.G.

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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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Mia Farrow in The Omen reboot.

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.Unknown-17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unknown-18Mrs 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.

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.

Sympathy for the Devil: The Sublime Satanism of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

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By: H.B.G.

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Is God Dead? Yes, this was an actual cover for TIME magazine in 1966.

Note: All passages in purple are direct quotes from the novel ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ by Ira Levin.

Rosemary’s Baby is perhaps the most positive Satanic book – and film – ever made. Certainly there will be die-hard fans of Joris-Karl Huysmans who insist that his 1891 novel Là-bas  (translated as Down There or The Damned) is the ultimate piece of Satanic literature;  however, it’s confused philosophical digressions, not to mention it’s darker and more grotesque passages, keep it far from the field of the positive. Rosemary’s Baby, both as a  novel penned by author Ira Levin and as a hit film directed by Roman Polanski, works on an entirely different level from Huysmans’ masterpiece of decadent diabolism. A level so close to our own, in fact, that we cannot help but be pulled into the story and accept that which must be considered by devout Christians to be the ultimate unacceptable thing – to purely love the spawn of Satan – the Antichrist incarnate. The other choice which presents itself in this thriller (as will be shown) is suicide – a grave matter – and a mortal sin that has been judged unpardonable in the past.

We are left wondering at the end of the story. We wonder if it is indeed a happy ending or a terrifying one. By the end of Rosemary’s Baby some people’s deeply held beliefs are called into question regarding: the Devil’s power, Is God dead? and, if you were Rosemary Woodhouse, a sense of what would you do? We must examine and consider our reaction to the final scene where Satan’s power is fully revealed in the apparent absence of any God. A child has been birthed who is destined to “overthrow the mighty and lay waste their temples! ….redeem the despised and wreak vengeance in the name of the burned and the tortured!” A true ‘Mother’s Love’ is certainly the purest kind of love to be found on Earth but what to do in this case?! We are left wondering – ‘Wouldn’t it be better if she throws the baby out the window and jumps out after it?’ as is suggested in the novel. Or, we might choose to look at it differently. After suspecting through much of the tale that the baby was in mortal danger from the coven, ‘Isn’t it marvelous that the baby is not only safe at the end but fiercely adored?’

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Virtue and Vice symbolized.

Sister Light, Sister Dark

In the story we (“we”are Rosemary – for the entire story is from her perspective) meet (Theresa) Terry Gionoffrio, a former drug addict with a sketchy past whose life has been turned around by a nice old couple, the Castevets, who in the way of the Good Samaritan (in a parable told by Jesus in the Book of Luke) have literally picked Terry up off the sidewalk, brought her home with them, and are bringing her back to full health and (in the novel) even planning on putting her through secretarial school – giving her the promise of a second chance, a new  future. But their home is the Bramford, a dark gothic apartment house on Manhattan’s upper West side with an even sketchier past than Terry’s. For over a hundred years all manner of scandals and crimes have accumulated within it’s darkly woven texture: suicide, murder, cannibalism, diabolism… But the Castevets seem kindly enough, “like real grandparents” as Terry says.

“I was starving and on dope and doing a lot of other things that I’m so ashamed of I could throw up just thinking about them. And Mr and Mrs Castevet completely rehabilitated me. They got me off the H, the dope, and got food into me and clean clothes on me, and now nothing is too good for me as far as their concerned. They give me all kinds of health food and vitamins, they even have a doctor come give me regular check-ups! It’s because their childless. I’m like the daughter they never had, you know?”

Terry says that at first she suspected the Castevets had some kind of ulterior motive, “a sex thing” he, or she, or they would want her to do. “But they’ve really been like real grandparents. Nothing like that.” It must have broken her heart when the revelation came that they actually did indeed want her for a “sex thing,” just not in the way anybody could have possibly imagined.

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Cult-ivated for great things

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Mater Dolorosa

Rosemary and Terry meet in the Bramford’s gloomy basement where, as we learn early on from our friend Hutch, that “a dead baby wrapped in newspaper had not so long ago been found. Whose baby had it been, and how had it died? Who had found it? Had the person who left it been caught and punished?” Rosemary considers researching the incident “but that would have made it more real, more dreadful than it already was. To know the spot where the baby had lain, to have perhaps to walk past it on the way to the laundry room and again on the way back to the elevator, would have been unbearable. Partial ignorance, she decided, was partial bliss.”

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Tannis anyone? Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the coven.

A more appropriate meeting place could not be devised for these two women who each live “in partial ignorance and partial bliss.” The basement, being underground, is the womb – tomb of the “Black Bramford”. It is the location of a horrendous discovery “not so long ago”of a dead infant. Rosemary and Terry meet at the nefarious scene where a dead baby was discovered; a strange yet subtle twist involving the fates of these two women. The Bramford’s basement laundry facilities is a witches’ crossroads of devouring death; the dark steamy maw of the Dark Mother who gives birth to, and devours, her young. Were this story a Grimm’s fairy tale we could just as easily imagine the meeting of the relatively innocent pig-tailed Rosemary and the more worldly-experienced Terry taking place in some deep dark forest, at a crossroads where criminals are hanged, the unquiet dead are buried, and necromantic rituals take place in the flickering light of black candles made from the fat of unbaptized babes. They meet in the basement of the spooky, gothic witches’ mansion. The basement which is also, of course, the subconscious – where the monsters live. With it’s “steamy brick walls” it is the Bramford’s bowels, a moist womb. A gestation place for all evil conceptions. As Terry proudly exhibits her lovely, yet foul-smelling, gift from the Castevets, the umbilical threads of Fate are rewoven by the hand of Satan between these two women.

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“I’m not mad about the smell either.”

With Rosemary and Terry we are reminded of a pair of women that occur as a choice in many hero journey myths. Or, as card number six ‘VI The Lovers’ on the Marseille style Tarot card. The Dark Woman represents Vice, the Light Woman represents Virtue. Sister Dark and Sister Light – each represent a temptation. The somewhat exotic, brunette Terry – with her history of illicit sex, prostitution, and drugs; and fair, strawberry blond, girlishly pig-tailed Rosemary – the good Catholic school girl from Omaha, Nebraska. In the novel we learn (Minnie Castevet’s voice coming from the nun in the dream on the night of Terry’s suicide): “All she has to be is young, healthy and not a virgin. She doesn’t have to be a no-good drug-addict whore out of the gutter.” Very simple qualifications for the required candidate the Castevets need. Terry has been staying with the Castevets for a few months. Has Terry inquired about their taste in art? Or have they removed their paintings from the walls?

‘There aren’t many like Mr and Mrs Castevet,’ Terry said. ‘I would be dead now if it wasn’t for them. That’s an absolute fact. Dead or in jail.’

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Who’s your Baby-Daddy? In the novel, Rosemary brings Terry to her apartment to meet Guy. This photo imagines that scene which looks like it may have been filmed but edited out from the final cut.

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Tarot trump VI : The Lover(s). Some interpret the two figures flanking the male Lover as personifications of Vice & Virtue

Is suicide a sin?

Not long after meeting Terry we find her dead in the street, quite literally in the gutter you might say, right after she jumps from the Castevet’s seventh story window. We are shocked and appalled at this sudden loss of such a beautiful young woman we have only just met (in the novel we learn everyone mistakes her for the actress Anna Maria Alberghetti; in the film she resembles Victoria Vetri – who actually plays the role under the name Angela Dorian). “She was a very happy girl with no reason for self destruction” mourns Minnie. We are left to wonder as the suicide note is read silently; though Minnie Castevet tells us later that the suicide note “made it crystal clear” that they (the Castevets) hadn’t “failed her in some way”.

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Minnie, your only failure is your sense of fashion

Of course we come to learn just what Terry’s dilemma was. She was being groomed by the Castevets to become the mother of Satan’s child. Apparently the Castevets had wisely withheld this information from Terry up until and just before her suicide. Rosemary and Guy hear Minnie’s midwestern bray through the walls of their own apartment: “But it’s impossible to be a hundred percent sure!” and “If you want my opinion, we shouldn’t tell her at all; that’s my opinion!” The film hints that the suicide occurs the night after Rosemary and Guy hear the “singing and the flute and the chanting” coming through the wall from the Castevet’s neighboring apartment. The novel tells us the Castevet’s had one of their parties on the Saturday night before Rosemary meets Terry, but we are uncertain whether Terry was present. Perhaps she was, and perhaps that was when she was presented with the antique Tannis charm. On the night of the suicide Rosemary overhears the distraught voice of Minnie Castevet through her bedroom wall as she drifts into sleep. The voice seeps into her dream in the form of an angry nun from her Catholic school girl years complaining: “Sometimes I wonder how come you’re the leader of anything! If you’d’ listened to me, we wouldn’t have had to do it! We’d have been all set to go now instead of starting all over from scratch! I told you not to tell her anything in advance….. I told you she wouldn’t be open-minded! Time enough later to let her in on it.” 

Terry felt compelled to choose between willingly giving birth to Satan’s child, or suicide. Which choice is the lesser, or greater, sin? This is the question that unconsciously worms it’s way into our minds.

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“Didn’t she have a brother? She said she did. In the Navy.”

Whenever – and under whatever circumstances – she was informed of the Castevet’s diabolical plan, Terry felt compelled to choose between submitting to having sex with Satan and giving birth to his child, or suicide. We are presented with a soteriological dilemma. Which choice is the lesser, or greater, sin?  This is the question that unconsciously worms it’s way into our minds. According to the theology of the Catholic Church, death by suicide is considered a grave matter, one of the elements required for mortal sin.

A mortal sin (Latin: peccata mortalia), in Catholic theology, is a gravely wrongful act, which can lead to eternal damnation, if a person is not absolved of the sin before death (an impossibility for a successful suicide). A sin is considered to be “mortal” when its quality is such that it leads to a separation of that person from God’s saving grace.

Suicide is contrary to love for the living God. Not only is suicide seriously contrary to justice, hope, and charity, but it is forbidden by the fifth commandment: “Honour thy father and thy mother”. There is some debate among denominations and theologians, and differing opinions, as to whether suicide is, as a sin, pardonable or not.

As to why Terry didn’t just try to get out of there – we might well imagine her despair at the idea of going to seek help with her crazy story!  She would have quite assuredly imagined – knowing what she surely figured out before taking her own life (remember, Terry knew poor old Mrs Gardenia who used to live next door before slipping into a coma after a falling-out with the Castevets) – that the Castevet’s coven would take immediate black magical action against her, causing her to go blind, deaf or worse! Even if the Castevet coven resisted casting any spells against Terry (Ha! As if!) she would almost immediately have been shut away in some hideous New York mental hospital (this is 1965 remember). Or, she could choose to risk going back to the streets of New York in 1965, where she would most likely end up falling back into her old ways, and end up dying in the gutter anyway. Falling or jumping as a form of suicide holds some close connection to the idea of Satan’s Fall from Heaven. Poetic, no?

 

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He  moves in mysterious ways…

“Minnie said, ‘He chose you out of all the world, Rosemary. Out of all the women in the whole world, He chose you. He brought you and Guy to your apartment there, He made that foolish what’s-her-name, Terry, made her get all scared and silly so we had to change our plans. He arranged everything that had to be arranged, ’cause He wanted you to be the mother of His only living Son.'”

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“Look at His hands!”

We are given some valuable extra information about Rosemary’s thinking process in the final pages of the novel. After the awful revelation she is sitting with a hot cup of Lipton’s  tea and thinks…

“The thing to do was kill it. Obviously. Wait…. and grab it and throw it out the window. and jump out after it. Mother Slays Baby and Self at Bramford. Save the world from God-knows-what. From Satan-knows-what.”

Yet, she struggles with the idea whether it is even human and decides “He couldn’t be all bad, he just couldn’t. Even if he was half Satan, wasn’t he half her as well, half decent, ordinary, sensible, human being?” She considers that she could exert her own good influence over him to counteract their bad one. She even considers going to a priest. “It was a problem for the Church to handle. For the Pope and all the cardinals to deal with…”

Her motherly instincts take over when she hears the baby crying and sees that Laura-Louise is rocking the baby too fast. Roman Castevet tells her to rock him. “She stood still and looked at him. ‘You’re trying to – get me to be his mother,’ she said. In the film Sydney Blackmer, excellently cast as Roman Castevet, with a suffering look of pure pathos says “Aren’t you His mother?” In the novel, her eyes then move to the window  and she suggests that Roman should oil the squeaking wheels of the bassinet. It’s as though she is still deciding just what to do. Window? Wait?

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“She stood still and looked at him. ‘You’re trying to – get me to be his mother,’ she said. ‘Aren’t you His mother?’ Roman said.”

As she is rocking him she begins to think his eyes, which so startled and revolted her at first, are actually “pretty in a way,” and asks what his hands are like as they are covered in black mitts. She is told that he has very tiny pearly claws and they’re covered “only so He doesn’t scratch Himself, not because His hands are unattractive.” Her anger flashes at the appearance of Dr Sapirstein but she is quick to say: “‘Not you,” to the Baby. ‘It’s not your fault. I’m angry at them, because they tricked me and lied to me. Don’t look so worried; I’m not going to hurt you.'” She loosens the neck of the baby’s gown to make Him more comfortable. Tells Him He has a very cute chin. 

Indeed, it isn’t the baby’s fault. “Poor little creature.”

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“Hail Rosemary, mother of Andrew!”

Rosemary insists the baby be named Andrew John rather than Roman Castevet’s favored Adrian Steven, after his devil conjuring father and his own true name. A point she refuses even to argue about. And, “He can’t wear black all the time.” She has come to fully accept her baby, with budding horns, tail and all. Naming it, claiming it. Speaking sweetly to it as the coven gathers around the black bassinet in awe at the dark miracle before them and exclaim “Hail Andrew!” and “Hail Rosemary, mother of Andrew!” and “Hail Satan!” Rosemary Woodhouse gave birth just after midnight on June twenty-fifth. Exactly half the year round from you-know-who. She has become the first Satanic Madonna and has not even joined the coven. She calls the baby Mr Worry-face’. Roman assures her the baby knows she will not hurt him. She asks Roman “Then what does he look so worried for? The poor little thing. Look at him.” As a final touch, in an effort to erase what she sees as a “worried expression” from the baby’s face, she taps the silver ornament dangling above the baby – an inverted crucifix suspended by a black ribbon bound around the Christ’s ankles – and sets it swinging.

The genius of Rosemary’s Baby lies in it’s so successfully aligning the reader, or viewer, with the character of Rosemary that we too can’t help but condone her motherly instincts. With an intense interest in the subject Jules Bois wrote in 1895 in Le Satanisme et la Magie that the devil’s power lies in that “he suffers;” an idea expressed so well in Milton’s Paradise Lost we find ourselves wondering which side Milton was on. Rosemary sees her own baby “suffering” in the midst of a coven of aging witches – surrounded with black, gown uncomfortably tied, rocked carelessly and without a mother’s good sense, her own breast milk she’s been pumping out being fed to her baby in bottles when she had decided to breast feed, etc… In Rosemary’s Baby, book or film, we find ourselves choosing life rather than the murder of an innocent baby – whatever it’s  paternal, or infernal, origins may be.

By: H. B. Gardner