Tag Archives: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Hungry wives and evil husbands

I’ve been writing a piece on the science fiction of Ira Levin for an upcoming book project. This led me to re-reading his amazing novel Rosemary’s Baby, which led to a re-watch of the 1968 film, which got me to thinking, why there seemed to be a preponderance of cinema in the late 1960s/early 1970s which involve supposedly ordinary women having witchcraft used against them or using it for empowerment.

Roman Polansky’s version of Rosemary’s Baby abides fairly closely to Levin’s book and I suspect regular readers of this site don’t need any introduction to how good the book and film are. Obviously, the story has a very strong feminist tone, as did a lot of Levin’s work. An innocent woman, Rosemary, has her young, fertile body quite literally sold to a group of Satanists who, unbeknownst to her, live in the same New York apartment block, by her husband, Guy, in return for success in his chosen profession as an actor.

What is really good about the film, and even better about the book, is the way Levin leaves a trail of small clues as to what is going on – that Satan has raped her and Guy, in league with the Satanists, is manipulating her to carry the child to full term – often seemingly inconsequential or coincidental details, just enough to move the plot forward, but which all add up to a horrifying, inescapable trap.… Read more

When Satan ruled our screens: The Omen turns 40 years old

The OmenWhen audiences emerged from the first screenings of The Omen, which debuted in the United Kingdom on 6 June 1976, they found customised posters affixed to the front of cinemas declaring: “Today is the sixth day of the sixth month of Nineteen-Seventy Six.”

The marketing gimmick played into the well-known satanic ‘number of the beast’ in the Book of Revelation, which features prominently in The Omen. Nearing the film’s dramatic climax, Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) finds a birthmark of three sixes on his adopted son Damien’s scalp, the mark, he has been warned, of the Antichrist.

Forty years after its release, critical analysis of The Omen has nearly always taken a backseat to the film’s reputation as a ‘cursed movie’, a status resulting from the string of mishaps, injuries and deaths loosely associated with its filming and post-production. This has obscured its legacy as one of the more genuinely frighting of the satanic-themed films that flooded cinemas in the 70s.

You can read my latest piece for the British Film Institute on The Omen, it’s influences and the wave of 70s cinema with Satanic, witchcraft and occult themes, in full here.

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Pulp Friday: witches, warlocks and drums of the dark gods

“A Horrifying excursion into a world ruled by the prince of darkness”

We don’t do Halloween in Australia, but it’s as good an opportunity as any to post some of the terrific occult pulp paperbacks covers I’ve collected over the last few months.

The supernatural and occult were major pre-occupations of popular culture in the sixties and the first half seventies. I am not exactly sure why, but some observers have linked it to regular outbreaks of witch mania that historically coincided with periods of major social change and dislocation.

Occultists, witches, Satanists, ruled much of the cinema screen. As was often the case, relatively highbrow offerings, Roman Polanski’s 1968 film Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist (1973) and The Omen (1976), coexisted along side more sensationalist exploitation fare. Devil’s Rain (1975), Brotherhood of Satan (1971), The Witches (1966) and Race with the Devil (1975), are just some of the many, many examples.

And where cinema went, pulp fiction followed. Old stories were spiced up, new ones penned in rapid succession.

Rest in Agony concerns what transpires when a husband and wife discover a little black book that reveals their dear deceased Uncle Amby lived a secret double life as a Satanist. Not surprising when some of his mates included Vandal James “Satan’s playmate” and Amora Cartwirght “Goddess of dark waters”.… Read more