A Schmoo Throwback Article.
We are all born with a clean slate. We are innocent, hopeful, and untainted. The world we see before sexuality is full of possibilities. We go on to spread the seed and heritage of our parents. It is children who keep the past, present and future alive. It was this pattern that kept the visage of the American family, with all of its values, intact. This all changed when Rosemary’s baby was born. In the realm of the horror genre, the family’s last possible escape was turned on its head. No longer was “the other” a member of the family who had grown into evil, but one who had been born so. There is no future in this, no recurring pattern to save the family norm, there is only a family apocalypse.
It is at this time that all aspects of horror are begun and exhibited within the confines of the family structure. The illusion of the family life that represses the fears and anxiety associated with child-bearing has manifested itself in the children themselves. However, these children don’t simply remain infants. Rosemary’s baby developed on screen within the horror film. He became Damien, then Regan, then Carrie and so on. Although, by the time it had grown into Carrie, the dynamic within the family had evolved. The apocalypse of the family is no longer wrought by the little children, instead the blame lies with the parents. Their ineptitude, absence and harshness forces their seed to further destruction, giving reason to the horror where there once was none.
Although there are some instances where the mother is at fault (CARRIE), the father is the primary culprit in this.
Even in CARRIE one could argue that the father’s absence is important. When the father is absent, he allows for his children to destroy and/or be destroyed (such is the case in slasher flicks). But there are more direct ways in which the father becomes the root villain. In hindsight, we can see that the cause of the apocalypse of which I speak is the father. Rosemary’s baby was born to change the face of horror and the family, but why was it born? John Cassavettes sold his wife to the Devil in exchange for an acting career and its monetary gains. Subsequently the Devil begat the demon spawn. This trend also follows directly into THE AMITYVILLE HORROR and THE SHINING in which the fathers go crazy while struggling to deal with financial or creative difficulties and attempt to eliminate their offspring. This idea also relates, although less directly, to Poltergeist, where the father’s shady real estate venture brings his family to a haunted house. John Cassavettes was able to stave off this more blatant insanity by nipping his problems in the bud. Sell your wife and potential child to the Devil and your worries are solved.
This one selfish act has seemed to doom the horror film family forever. His act in creating Rosemary’s baby spawned a horror child that transcended all horror, destroying the innocence of the American family in the process (or at least the appearance of it). Then the parents began to agitate and cultivate more terror from their children in an attempt to cope with this evil. This forced the hand of the father, who was too busy dealing with the rigors of capitalist society to act rationally. So, the cycle that was started by the father came to a halt with the father and began again.