New To Blu: Arrow Video: The Baby (1973)

I'll tell you what, the '70s had some of the strangest films of all time, and I continuously find out about bizarre subgenres and oddities from this era. One such gem is The Baby (1973), a flick with a fantastically weird premise made with dead serious sincerity.

The Baby concerns the tale of a social worker named Ann (Anjanette Comer) who takes on a case that involves a family with a very special "child". This child (who is aptly named Baby) is actually an adult man in his mid-twenties who appears to be mentally impaired to the point where he acts like an infant. His family consists of his overbearing mother Mrs. Wadworth (Ruth Roman) and his two sisters Germaine and Alba. Immediately, it's apparent that something is very wrong with his upbringing and that his family is not who they seem to be on the surface. Ann has to unravel the mystery behind Baby's stunted development and also deal with her own personal issues outside of her investigation.

Baby is played by David Mooney, and he puts in one hell of a performance. Watching him crawling around on the ground wearing a giant diaper and making cooing sounds is hands down one of the most unsettling things I have ever seen, and the fact that this is also depicted in a fetishistic fashion makes it incredibly usavory. I have to give this movie props for going all in on some extremely challenging material and not pulling any punches. While it's not especially explicit (it's rated PG!), it uses innuendo and excellent editing to create a mood that will have most viewers shifting uncomfortably in their seat. This is one of the few movies where I couldn't predict the way the plot was going at any point, and it kept me guessing right up until the shocking ending.

Paraphilic infantilism aside, the direction and look of the film is excellent, though it feels dated. They could have taken this movie the seedy exploitative route easily, but it's filmed in a straightforward manner not unlike a made-for-TV movie. The script is neatly put together with everything that is foreshadowed in the first act of the film having a satisfactory payoff at the end, though a few sequences do feel a bit far-fetched. At the risk of sounding cliche, they just don't make 'em like this anymore--there's no way a concept this controversial and outlandish would get green-lit let alone be given a competent director.

Underneath the insane exterior is a story about abuse and codependency and the different defense mechanisms that people use to cope with it. Baby is being pulled in two different directions as he loves his family even though they mistreat him, but he also has the ability to lead a normal life if he is given a better environment. Ann has her own ulterior motives for trying to help Baby and this is explored thoroughly as a side plot. I can't really recommend this film to anyone but the most adventurous cinephiles, but those who give it a chance will find a compelling high-concept tale outside of the subversive premise.

--Michelle Kisner


1.85:1 and 1.33:1 versions of the feature

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation

Original uncompressed PCM mono audio

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

Brand new audio commentary by Travis Crawford

Down Will Come Baby – a new retrospective with film professor Rebekah McKendry

Tales from the Crib – archival audio Interview with director Ted Post

Baby Talk – archival audio Interview with Star David Mooney

Theatrical Trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by The Twins of Evil

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Kat Ellinger