This product was provided by Arrow Video for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own. Score is based on the product as a whole and not the film in and of itself.
Take one look at the incredible poster for Ted Post’s 1973 film The Baby, and it quickly becomes evident that this is going to be one strange ride. Now, the film has been given the Arrow video treatment, so we can all enjoy a newly restored version of this weird cult classic.
Post, who was best known for his work in television on shows like Peyton Place, Rawhide and Gunsmoke, was apprehensive about taking on such an odd film, but decided to take on the task of crafting a film involving a 21-year-old baby and the women who love him.
The film stars Anjanette Comer as Ann, a social worker assigned to the Wadsworth family, a group of three women – a mother and two daughters – who are taking care of Baby, who is a grown man with a developmental disorder that renders him in an infant-like state.
In an early scene, we see Baby attempt to breastfeed off his babysitter in one of the film’s more disturbing sequences, which results in the Wadsworth women savagely beating the girl after they walk in on her seemingly enjoying it. This quickly sets the tone for the bizarre series of events that will occur and plants the seed that there’s more happening here than just a loving family taking care of their mentally challenged child.
Ruth Roman plays Mrs. Wadsworth, the loud, domineering matriarch of the family who rules over her children with a tyrannical violent streak, not the least of whom is Baby, who she seems to be keeping in a state of arrested development – punishing him anytime he shows the slightest hint of adult behavior.
After only a few meetings, Ann realizes this is a case of abuse and begins her quest to separate Baby from this wicked family. But does she have ulterior motives beyond wanting to help this poor man?
It’s established early in the film that Ann has a husband who was in a horrific car accident, but she herself seems to be shrouded in mystery. We don’t know why she’s so hellbent on getting Baby into her custody, but there’s clearly more to the story than just excelling at her job.
David Mooney plays the titular Baby, who nails the infant mannerisms, while always giving off an undeniable creepy vibe. His voice was dubbed with a baby voice to expand upon and already serious level of disturbing man-baby stuff.
Strange, comical and slightly deranged, The Baby is a movie that you won’t forget watching, but it’s far more tame than one might expect going into it. I’m reminded of a slightly more family-friendly John Waters film.
Led by a predominantly female cast, The Baby features a set of strong women, deviants they may be, who are clearly in control, never letting the men in their lives break their will. Ann says as much in a scene where she theorizes that Mrs. Wadsworth’s reason for keeping Baby in this state is a way of getting revenge on Baby’s father who skipped town after he was born.
The special-edition Arrow Video Blu-ray release contains two versions of the feature with different aspect ratios, 1.78:1 and 1.37:1. Both have great transfers, but I appreciate the fact that Arrow thought to include both, just to create the most complete version possible.
There’s an audio commentary track by Travis Crawford, a new retrospective with film professor Rebekah McKendry and a set of new interviews with members of the cast and crew. For the first pressing of the disc, there’s a collector’s booklet included with an essay by Kat Ellinger, along with stills from the film. Like all Arrow releases there’s also a reversible cover with new commissioned artwork on one side and the original poster on the other.
The Baby is another gem in the ever-growing Arrow library, and while I wouldn’t call it a must-own for fans of weird, oddball cinema, this is not one to be missed.