Directed By: Ted Post
Starring: Anjanette Comer, Ruth Roman, Marianna Hill
Tag line: "Horror is his formula!"
Trivia: The producer's son played the part of the baby
A word of warning: The Baby is one weird ass motion picture!
Released in 1973, The Baby tells the story of the Wadsworth family. Mrs. Wadsworth (Ruth Roman), whose husband walked out on her years earlier, has been raising her three children, two adult daughters named Germaine (Marianna Hill) and Alba (Susanne Zenor), and one baby (David Mooney), all by herself. What makes this particular household so unusual is that “Baby” is 21 years old! Mrs. Wadsworth claims Baby, who still wears diapers and sleeps in a crib, is mentally backwards, but the family's new social worker, Ann Gentry (Anjanette Comer), is convinced he could lead a perfectly normal life if his mother and sisters would allow him to do so. Hoping to prove criminal negligence, Ann becomes a regular fixture at the Wadsworth home, and spends a great deal of time trying to teach Baby to walk and talk. But as Ann will learn, Mrs. Wadsworth is a very protective mother, and will go to extreme lengths to defend her family, and its secrets.
Now, I did read up on The Baby before sitting down to watch it, and frankly, it all seemed very bizarre. So, if just reading about the movie left me scratching my head, imagine my shock the moment I saw Baby for the first time. No amount of description could have prepared me for the sight of a grown man in a diaper, who spends most of his day in an over-sized playpen. Baby, played as well as can be expected by David Mooney, was a sight to behold, but like Ann, I got the sense there was more to this story than the family was letting on. Sure enough, when Ann experiences a breakthrough of sorts with Baby, getting him to stand for a short time on his own, Mrs. Wadsworth is none too pleased, staring at a terrified Baby and quietly damning him for showing signs of progress. We then cut immediately to Baby's room, where Alba is shocking him with a cattle prod, repeating over and over “Baby doesn't walk, Baby doesn't talk”. Mrs. Wadsworth does eventually put a stop to the torture...then turns to Germaine and tells her to lock Baby in the closet!
Despite The Baby's outlandish story, the filmmakers play it entirely straight, adding no superfluous humor whatsoever (save, of course, the unintentionally hilarious sight of a grown man in a diaper). Yet while The Baby won't be the funniest film you'll ever see, I'll bet money it'll be one of the strangest.