Favorite Horror Films of the 1960s: Rosemary’s Baby




Rosemary’s Baby is one of the most successful, influential, and important films in the history of American cinema, if not world cinema. In 1968, Roman Polanski directed this highly successful film, which was based on the novel by Ira Levin.  This book was also a bestseller, and the movie is a very close adaptation from the novel, often pulling its dialogue directly from the book. It is one of the rare cases when the film is almost as good as the book upon which it is based.



In addition to being highly successful, this film used religious elements that arguably influenced other works such as The Exorcist.  It is clearly a Christian work and deals with the devil as the main antagonist, one that, in classic Gothic fashion, threatens an innocent.  This is a film that also speaks to the issue of fate vs free will and the choice of rejecting or embracing evil. The plot deals with a young woman whose husband might be part of a cult of the devil. She become impregnated, and the film features a disturbing sequence of a dream when a creature or demon or the devil rapes her. Her husband tells her he had sex with her while she slept; either way, both versions are deeply disturbing. The film equates sexual and spiritual victimization.  Rosemary gives birth, and nearly the entire population of the building in which she lives are shown as part of the cult.  In a chilling moment, she is told that her baby has “its father’s eyes,” and the child has glowing eyes.  At this point, Rosemary cradles the infant.

Is the film attacking the victimization of this young woman? Is she implicated at the end as part of accepting her place in the cult and the delivering of the devil’s child? That is ambiguous, but the film demands we examine the question and arrive at our own answer.

Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes star in the movie, and it would launch Mia Farrow into stardom.

If you are interested in horror cinema, this is a very important film, but it comes with the trigger warning, that many aspects of it are potentially deeply disturbing.