A demonic baby returns to the big screen today with the found footage film Devil’s Due, which quite frankly makes this week the absolute perfect time to go back and revisit devil baby flicks from the past. Though movies like It’s Alive and Grace should by all means be on any given list of films that fall into that category, there’s one that they owe it all to, and only one that did it better than any other; Rosemary’s Baby.
Proving that the story is as powerful, effective and relevant today as it was when the film was released in 1968, Rosemary’s Baby is in the midst of being turned into a four-hour long miniseries for NBC, which is another reason why now’s the perfect time to either discover or rediscover the classic horror film. So before you go see Devil’s Due this weekend, and before Rosemary delivers the spawn of Satan on NBC, it seems only fitting that we first learn a little bit about the movie that started it all.
Here are 10 things you might not know about Rosemary’s Baby!
1) Though it’s often believed that Mia Farrow cut her hair short for the role of Rosemary, the truth is that she had already done so years prior, before the film was ever on the table. The above shot of Vidal Sassoon creating the iconic pixie cut was confirmed to be a publicity hoax in 2012, when Farrow tweeted that the late Sassoon had absolutely nothing to do with the haircut – in fact, she says, she cut it herself, with a pair of fingernail scissors. Farrow wore a wig for the scenes early in the film, where her hair is long.
2) It was schlock-master William Castle that discovered and purchased the film rights to Ira Levin’s novel, intent on directing the film himself. Paramount producer Robert Evans was interested in turning the book into a movie but didn’t want Castle anywhere near it, since he mostly specialized in B-level movies. Castle ended up producing the film and having a brief cameo in it (above), as the man waiting for Rosemary to get out of the phone booth, when she’s calling Dr. Hill. Proving that it was a wise choice that Castle didn’t direct, his plan was to actually show the demonic baby at the end of the film, an idea that Polanski and the other producers rejected.
3) After the release of the film, William Castle received all sorts of death threats and angry letters, with several of them insisting that he was going to die a painful death, as a result of the “evil” subject matter of the film. Though Castle initially brushed them off, a series of painful health issues soon followed, and he became convinced that a curse truly had been placed on him. “The story of Rosemary’s Baby was happening in life,” he was quoted as saying. “Witches, all of them, were casting their spell, and I was becoming one of the principal players." Castle died of a heart attack in 1977.
4) Though the apartment building the majority of the film takes place in is called The Bramford, in the movie, the actual name of the building was and still is The Dakota. John Lennon moved into the Dakota shortly after filming wrapped, and it was the site of his murder in 1980. He was shot dead at the south entrance of the building, which Rosemary and Guy are seen entering at the start of the film (above).
5) Mia Farrow had married Frank Sinatra just a couple years before filming began on Rosemary’s Baby, and Sinatra was reportedly unhappy about the fact that she was continuing her career, after the marriage. In fact, it was her decision to star in the movie that spelled the end of their relationship. Sinatra’s lawyer delivered divorce papers to Farrow in the middle of the shoot, right in front of the cast and crew. It was either the movie or Sinatra, and Farrow had no choice but to choose the movie, since a large portion of the film had already been shot.
6) In the scene where Rosemary eats raw chicken liver, director Roman Polanski insisted that Farrow actually eat… raw chicken liver. Though she’s a devout vegetarian, Farrow complied, and several takes were filmed of her chowing down on real raw liver. Now that’s commitment… and a pretty damn cruel director!
7) The devil costume that’s briefly seen in the film’s iconic rape scene was re-used in the 1972 film Asylum of Satan, and it can be seen towards the end of the movie. Some rumors suggest that a devil mask used in the film was originally designed to be used in Rosemary’s Baby, but those claims are unsubstantiated.
8) So faithful was Polanski’s adaptation of Ira Levin’s novel that the final running time of the first cut of the film was a massive four-hours long, despite the fact that Polanski considerably cut down the original script he wrote. Nearly two hours had to be excised from the film to get it down to a manageable length, and one of the deleted scenes saw Rosemary attending an off-Broadway play, where she meets Joan Crawford and Van Johnson, playing themselves. The behind the scenes shot above captures the filming of that scene.
9) After the film was completed, Paramount didn’t want to release it, because they had absolutely no idea how to sell or market it. Robert Evans reached out to a friend of his (Stephen Frankfurt), who was the president of an advertising agency, and he told him that he’d come up with a poster for the film free of charge – if Paramount didn’t like it, then so be it… but if they wanted to use it, they’d have to pay him $100,000. After Stephen watched the movie, he designed the promotional poster seen above, which put $100,000 in his pocket and helped Paramount not only sell the film, but make a killing at the box office. Just goes to show the power of a good poster!
10) And finally, did you know that there was actually a sequel to Rosemary’s Baby?! Though it’s never been released on DVD, and has largely been forgotten over the years, Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby aired as a TV movie in 1976, with Patty Duke playing the role of Rosemary Woodhouse. Stephen McHattie played Adrian/Andrew, an adult version of the devil baby that was never seen in the original film, and it’s his character the sequel centered around. The film was directed by Sam O’Steen, who edited Rosemary’s Baby.