CAPSULE: LOOK WHAT’S HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY’S BABY (1976)

DIRECTED BY: Sam O’Steen

FEATURING: Stephen McHattie, , , Patty Duke, Broderick Crawford

PLOT: Picking up where the slightly more famous original left off, we join young Adrian/Andrew as his mother takes him from his Devil-cult overseers across the country; reaching manhood, the hour of reckoning approaches when the world may see the rebirth of Satan.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LISTLook What’s Happened… is utterly ridiculous, to be sure, but with nothing more than the inherent camp to be found in a ’70s made-for-TV movie (and one that’s a sequel to an established classic, at that), it is “merely” an amusing, benign curio for those lucky enough to find it.

COMMENTS: In case you were wondering, that pantomime fellow behind the hippie chicks in the still is the young man conceived and born in Roman Polanski‘s more famous Rosemary’s Baby. The actor on the stage strutting his stuff is none other than this Fantasia’s special guest, Stephen McHattie, in one of his earliest onscreen appearances. McHattie introduced the movie—still mostly unseen and unknown after all these years—at the 2019 special screening at the Fantasia Film Festival. Let me tell you the story.

Roman and Minnie Castevet make for somewhat inept guardians, as they allow Rosemary to escape with young Andrew (born Adrian, and now age eight) into the world. A violent storm picks up when they leave the Satanic cultist’s lair, and they take refuge in a small storefront used as a synagogue. Rosemary feels that the boy is being sought out, and demands that the assembled Jewish men “Pray! Pray! Pray!” in an attempt to block the probing psychic eye of Minnie Castevet (whose parallels with a stereotypical Jewish grandmother border on the “uncanny”). Rosemary gets dumped somewhere in Nevada after her boy nearly kills some kids for teasing him, and is shuffled off onto a bus… with no driver(!!!). Andrew/Adrian is raised by a hooker in a a gimmicky “Castle Casino.” And… my goodness, I’m feeling like an idiot relaying this plot. Some later highlights: a self-driving car, a big black cake with a pentagram of birthday candles, a hospital for the criminally insane, and much, much more.

The screening was made even more special by the inclusion of mid-’70s advertisements spliced into the feature (including one for the bitchin’ roadster that Adrian drives around pointlessly). It was also preceded by McHattie’s film debut, “Star Spangled Banner”, an antiwar short that won a prize at Cannes back in 1970 (?). It impressed me greatly—I appreciated the irony of a young Canadian actor standing in for a doomed US soldier. With the titular song played in the background (as covered by The Grass Roots, a late 1960s folk-rock band), a young GI runs from enemy fire while quick clips of home, youth, love, and innocence are interspliced with his panic. Hokey-sounding, to be sure, but strangely moving to watch. I just wish I could find it again.

But it was not a night for politics: it was a night for the audience, along with one of Canada’s veteran character actors, to see an impressively awful movie together for the first time. McHattie quipped afterwards, “That looks like it was two-hundred years old.” For all its crumminess, there was an earnestness to Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby, and at the very least, McHattie’s career survived the hit. He’s been in more than 200 roles since.

WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING:

“Connoisseurs of bad movies will likely find this misconceived project a worthwhile hunt, especially given its strange period details (imagining Adrien as a ‘60s hippie rocker despite the ‘70s setting) and the manner in which the story pushes a plot along through sequences that can generously be called anti-horror. “–Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com

Q & A AUDIO

5 thoughts on “CAPSULE: LOOK WHAT’S HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY’S BABY (1976)”

    1. I remember reading up on that for the (very scant) research I did before writing this article. I imagine the book sequel is a very different experience from the TV one.

      The best observation I heard about this movie, though, was from a reviewer pal who remarked that considering when “Rosemary’s Baby” happened (June 6th, 1966), and when “Look What’s Happened…” was filmed, it actually has to take place ten years in the “future” (1986-ish) for the Adrian character to be the age he’s played as (twenty-something).

  1. > “I imagine the book sequel is a very different experience from the TV one.”

    It is. It’s kind of inevitable with Levin’s work, he has this black comedy / satire layer in his writing that doesn’t come through in film. Really, it’s an amazing stunt: Levin was always able to make a story come out so if you take it at face value, it’s a good thriller, but he’s still winking at the reader so if you recognize the absurdist send-up of a current topic ripped from the headlines, you get to enjoy Swiftian humor sprinkled on top.

    That bein’ said, this was his only sequel to anything, and I swear I once read where he said he’d never do a sequel. You can tell his heart wasn’t in it, and he was off-balance writing this way. It’s like a cheap pulp hack imitation of Levin. Shame this was his last novel, too.

    1. My word, I’d forgotten you were the literate fellow that you are.

      Guess I’ll toss Levin on to the big stack o’ hypothetical books that I am in increasing need to get around to. My eyes could probably do with a break from moving images when I get back, too: just hit movie number 40.

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