Saturday, March 17, 2012

In short: I Don't Want To Be Born (1975)

aka The Devil Within Her

aka Sharon's Baby

aka The Monster

aka The Baby

Winning the fight for the heavyweight championship for the worst movie about killer babies is clearly this British production directed by Peter Sasdy. The plot, such as it is, concerns Joan Collins as the most horrible burlesque dancer/stripper imaginable getting cursed by a spurned dwarf, and soon enough popping out The Devil Baby after getting together with Ralph Bates.

Hubby Ralph is so disturbed about his offspring that he's talking in an Italian accent so ridiculous it's difficult to imagine he's meaning it seriously (he does). Note to casting directors of the past: Ralph Bates is neither Italian nor able to pretend he is.

The dialogue may regularly inform the viewers that the baby, or rather The Baby, is abnormally large and strong for its age, but the hoped for effect is a bit ruined whenever Sasdy cuts to the actual baby - looking fat, satisfied, totally normal and so completely good-natured it's impossible not to laugh when the next character comments on its size or goes through a bad "oh my god! The devil baby scratched me!" rigmarole. Given how ridiculous baby's physical feats get during the course of the movie, I find it difficult to understand why the script doesn't just give it explicit telekinetic powers or something of that sort. That would have been silly enough, but slightly less ridiculous than a baby that's able hang Ralph Bates on a tree. Of course, it is hardly possible to watch I Don't Want To Be Born without developing doubts about the intellectual capacities, or at least the willingness to give a damn, of everyone involved behind the camera.

Because all this is not dumb enough, the film also sees fit to try to get at some of that sweet, sweet Exorcist money by adding a Catholic nun who works in the animal experimentation field (Eileen Atkins) and is related to Ralphie Bates, so that she can discuss the nature of evil babies with the family's doctor played by the great Donald Pleasence. The latter seems to have a lot of fun in his few scenes and brings some conscious irony and even class to a cast - there are John Steiner as sleazy script club owner and Caroline Munro as Collins's ditzy best friend, too - that should be able to do better, even when having to work with a script like this. Again, it all seems to be a case of nobody willing to give a damn.

I Don't Want To Be Born is a film you either stare at in disbelief and giggle continuously at, or give up on after fifteen minutes, depending on your tolerance for unbelievable nonsense.


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