Tonight I thought I would discuss two very different kind of horror films. Trying to dissect and compare horror films to each other can be enlightening to others; to help them explore new territories in horror. Also, this idea gives me to chat to be a blabber mouth about obscure, retro movies that most of the younger generations don’t know about. Hell, I’m almost 30 and I probably still need more horror movie schooling.
First I want to talk about Ted Post’s 1973 exploitation film The Baby. A social worker seeks out and becomes hired by the Wadsworth family to oversee the mentally ill child of the family who goes by the name of just Baby. Besides the retardation, Baby is an average boy who plays with toys, sucks on a bottle and cries when his diaper is wet with the exception that Baby is a 20-year-old man. The social worker plans for Baby seem genuine – to try to progress Baby’s ability to walk and talk like everybody else. However, the Wadworth family holds a dark secret that if anybody gets to close to that person ends up disappearing, but little does the Wadworth family know, that the social worker has alternate means for Baby than what she cares to divulge.
The Baby is a unique exploitation for me. I’ve never seen anything like it before. The fact that the mentally ill, a man, and the mind of a child are being exploited beyond rational means. When you (in this case when I) think of the exploitation genre, I imagine women being used for their body or just a person being exploited for violence. In The Baby, the man and the mentally ill is being abused for his body and the man and the mentally ill is being exploited for violence. During the duration, there is no grasp on who might be the hero and who might be the villain. The roles are a virtually reversed between the Wadworths family and the social worker and even at the end of the movie, you still don’t know how to process the information and end up second guessing the hero and the villain. The Baby will imprint in your mind and sear into your brain making The Baby a well executed film just by script alone. Director Ted Post and The Baby David Mooney do a remarkable job even if the 70s film does come off outdated and corny. Gerald Fried’s score is also pretty amazing and that is worth listening to as well.
Second comes The Prowler. A maniacal killer runs rampant on Avalon Bay, NJ dressed in WW II fatigues carrying a pitchfork, bayonet and a handheld shotgun. The killer reminisces about Rosemary, the love of his lift who gives him a Dear John letter for his time in military service. His longing forces him to kill.
Tom Savini has mentioned that his work on 1981 The Prowler was his best work ever. I don’t know if I could agree with Mr. Savini or not on that as his effects for The Burning are superb, but anything Savini touches is gold so The Prowler is a shining example of his gruesome work. The problem or problems rather with The Prowler is the entire storyline as it was far too choppy and incoherent. I pieced the story all together sans the movie and I get that the audience sometimes has to make their own interpretation, but come on! I feel as if The Prowler character just didn’t have enough back story like Jason Voorhees who had a tragedy as a child seeing his mother beheading and seeks revenge on the free-spirited, sex crazed teenage campers and consolers.
Two very different movies. Two different styles. All with in the realm of thrills and chills. Exploitation and slasher genres have gained knowledge from these two prime examples, yet we still build and build upon each genre. We don’t see them too much in theaters anymore which is a shame since both genres really put you in the center of the worlds most delicate issues of the world. People kill people. People exploit people. These issues will never go away but they will never been renowned as popular because the subjects frighten us way too much.