- Rosemary’s Baby
- (1967)Ira Levin’s novel about Devilworshipping witches who conspire to have a woman bear the ANTICHRIST.Rosemary’s Baby was made into a film in 1968, starring Mia Farrow as the victim mother, John Cassavetes as her opportunistic husband who sells her out to the DEVIL, and Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer as the ringleader witches of a coven. Ralph Bellamy stars as a doctor and member of the coven. Much of the shooting was done at the Dakota, New York’s brooding Gothic residence of the rich and famous and the site where, in 1980, John Lennon was fatally shot.Levin’s plot deals with Devil worshippers who call themselves witches. They follow the Devil’s instructions to arrange for him to rape the woman the Devil has chosen to conceive and deliver the Antichrist. The story takes place in New York City in 1966. Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse are young newlyweds in search of a new apartment. Guy is a mediocre actor struggling to succeed but barely making it in bit parts and commercials. At the sinister-looking Branford building, Rosemary falls in love with an apartment and persuades Guy to rent it. The apartment belonged to a mysterious old woman who grew herbs and died in a coma. After taking the apartment, the Woodhouses learn from a writer friend, Edward Hutchins (“Hutch”), that the Branford has a long and dark history of crime and strange happenings, including cannibal sisters and a dead baby found in the basement. It was home to the notorious Adrian Marcato, a self-proclaimed witch of the late 19th century, who claimed to be able to conjure up the Devil. The Woodhouses laugh it off.The Woodhouses meet their odd neighbors, Minnie and Roman Castevet, following the suicide of a young girl who was living with them. Unbeknownst to Rosemary, the Castevets seduce Guy with promises of professional success in exchange for the satanic rape of Rosemary. Rosemary is drugged by a chocolate mousse dessert made by Minnie but remains conscious enough during her hideous ordeal to know that it is not a dream. The naked witches stand around her chanting while an inhuman monster with animal eyes, reptilian skin, and a huge penis rapes her. The following morning, she uncomfortably decides it was a dream, after all. Guy tells her he made love to her while she was asleep.Rosemary becomes pregnant, and the Castevets convince her to see Dr. Abraham Saperstein. Saperstein prescribes a daily “vitamin” drink made by Minnie, supposedly containing fresh herbs. The true ingredient is a mysterious and vile-smelling “tanis root.” This root, which is more like a fungus, also is contained in a silver amulet necklace the Castevets give Rosemary to wear— the same necklace worn by the suicidal girl. The pregnancy does not go well. Rosemary loses weight and suffers constant pain, which Saperstein tells her is not unusual. When Hutch visits and hears of the tanis root, he becomes alarmed and does research. He attempts to tell Rosemary of his findings but is felled by a coma and dies before he is able to do so, murdered by a CURSE cast by the witches. At his funeral, a woman gives Rosemary a book that Hutch had wanted her to have, along with the message that “the name is an anagram.” The book, All of Them Witches, tells of a fungus known as “Devil’s pepper” used in rituals, and profiles various infamous witches, among them Adrian Marcato. Rosemary gets out her Scrabble set to try to decipher the anagram in the book’s title, but nothing makes sense. Then she notices that the name of Marcato’s son, Steven, is underlined in the book. Steven Marcato rearranges to Roman Castevet. Rosemary buys books on witchcraft, which tell her that witches cast malevolent spells upon people to maim and kill them and use BLOOD in their rituals—particularly baby’s blood—as well as human flesh. She surmises the witches want her baby to use in their rituals.The dark forces close in on Rosemary, despite her attempts to save herself. She appeals to Guy, then discovers he is part of the conspiracy. The same thing happens with Saperstein. She attempts to escape, but the witches trap her in her apartment, and she is delivered of the baby. She is told the baby was stillborn, but she discovers the witches are keeping it in the Castevets’ apartment. The coven convenes to hail the birth of the Antichrist, who has been named Adrian Steven. Rosemary, armed Mia Farrow as Rosemary Woodhouse, whose husband sells her to Satan in order to give birth to his demonic son in!!!with a knife, appears. She is told how the Devil chose her for her role. When she first sees the infant, swaddled in black in a black bassinet, she is horrified and can hardly bear to look upon the golden-yellow animal eyes, the orangered hair, the tail, and the budding horns. His little hands, which have “tiny, pearly” claws, are encased in black mittens so that he does not scratch himself. Rosemary decides she will kill the creature and commit suicide, but then becomes fascinated with it; it is, after all, hers. With the witches’ encouragement, she begins to mother it, holding on to a naive hope that she will be able to exert a good influence over it. The Antichrist gains a foothold in the world.Rosemary’s Baby influenced other coming-of-the-Antichrist films, such as The Omen (1976), about an adopted child Devil who escapes destruction.
Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology. Rosemary Ellen Guiley. 2009.