“God is dead! Satan lives!”

A young couple moves into an elegant, gothic apartment in New York City’s Upper West Side. Rosemary, played by Mia Farrow, is mousy and very naïve and her husband, Guy, is an actor without substantial acting jobs. Rosemary’s typical response to anyone who asks about her husband is, “He does a lot of TV and commercials.” Their elderly, eccentric new neighbors, John and Minnie Casavets, an old couple, take interest in the couple.  John Cassavet find guy find guy to be less pure and corrupt than Rosemary. They find from dinner with a friend that the house has a dangerous history of violent events including witchcraft. The old woman, Minnie Casavet, becomes infatuated with Rosemary like a daughter or best friend. To Minnie, Rosemary expresses a desire to start a family. A young woman who lives with the Castanets mysteriously commits suicide after Rosemary meets her that afternoon. Guy’s acting career is miraculously changed just as Rosemary discovers she in pregnant. Rosemary’s health deteriorates and she begins to question the “natural” vitamin drink that Minnie has been giving her and the unorthodox doctor the Casavets assigned for her. Guy is very comfortable with the Casavets and their gang of elderly friends. Rosemary suffers in isolation. Tension builds as she becomes more isolated and self-doubting. She finds books on witchcraft. By not the audience knows the secret, but we are in suspense leading to the conclusion of Rosemary giving birth to the anti-Christ.

Rosemary’s Baby began an era of horror films like The Omen and The Exorcist. All films had prominent messages about evil and mischievous malevolence. This was very unsettling for the time. The film suggested that things that are considered good like youth, pregnancy, and little girls enable evil. A huge controversy following the release of this film was Charles Manson’s attack on Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of Polanski. Some think that Rosemary’s Baby provoked the murder. Considering cult films connection to transgression it’s clear to see the connection of the film to the murder

Polanski was recommended to direct this film after Hitchcock turned it down. The producer, William Castle wanted Polanski after seeing repulsion and thinking the two would mix perfectly.

Contrary to Ira Levin’s book offers the conclusion that Rosemary is dealing with a cult early in the story. The fatalism in the story is what frightens the viewers the most. We know what’s happening and we just want the horror to end. Rosemary is either insane and everyone is trying to help her or she has fallen into the grasp of a satanic cult. Roman Polanski’s first Hollywood film is one of the few horror films that inspire fear in the audience by true suspense rather than gore or extreme violence. The film maintains a certain level of class and intelligence that it very rare in today’s horror genre. No other film gives such a clear example of self-destruction or possibly the contradiction the American dream and innocence. Rosemary’s naïve trust reflects most of America at the time.

The film analyzes the taboo’s of mistrust and betrayal in marriage and conception by using the extreme taboo of satanism and temptation to show that. Guy betrays Rosemary. He tries to excuse it as if he did something noble. He made a deal with the devil to allow his wife to be impregnated by Satan so he could have success in his acting career. He tells her in the final scene that they can live happily afterwards and start over. He tells her to treat the issue like a miscarriage and they can have a child of their own after this one. Its almost satirical in the casual way Guy speaks of his actions. The film deals with surrogacy and abortion decades before surrogacy clinics and egg donors. The Catholic Church, predictably, banned the film for its depiction of sacred icons and images to Christianity. Britain’s Board of Film censors also banned the satanic rape scene saying its “elements of kinky sex associated with black magic.” The mixture of sex and religion has always been an uphill battle and this film dropped a few bombs.

The film has a mysterious afterlife. One urban legend ties a Satanist from San Francisco to the role of occult consultant to the creative team behind Rosemary’s Baby. Though he is not in the credits there are rumors that he played the devil in the film. Another legend is that LaVay was involved with the casualty of bad luck on set. LaVay was considered to be the psychic and karmic link the Manson murders. Myths, taboos, and presidents in film are what made a film like Rosemary’s Baby legendary.

The haunting final scene: