Time for three dark movies that take their time getting to their wacko conclusions! I take on The Baby, Eyes of Laura Mars, and Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker.
THE BABY (1973)
Despite being over forty years old, The Baby is still totally fucked up! It’s the story of a mother raising her adult son as a baby with the help of her two daughters. We’re talking playpen, diapers, goo-goo-ga-ga, and all. It sounds like some sort of perverted fetish porn video, right? Well, it feels like it, too at times.
After the initial shocking scenes of Baby being…um…pampered, there are several other fucked up scenes, including Baby being shocked by a cattle prod by his sister, and Baby’s fricking babysitter letting him breastfeed when he starts crying and feeling her up. WTF? They rarely make movies like this anymore, and when they do, they usually do it wrong. If Baby is ever remade, it seriously needs to be made by some sicko, indie, no-budget filmmaker who will exploit the hell out of its obscene concept.
Things slow down for a while until finally, the social worker kidnaps Baby. It’s when his mother and sisters break in to her house to get him back that the bodies start to pile up, leading right to the shocking reveal about the social worker’s interest in Baby.
EYES OF LAURA MARS (1978)
Eyes of Laura Mars sticks in your head mostly because of the big twist at the end. It’s basically a slasher flick, but the murders are very tame. Released the same year as Halloween, the screenplay was written by John Carpenter! We’ll always wonder how the film would have been different if he had also directed it.
Faye Dunaway plays a controversial photographer who creates macabre stills of death and murder. And suddenly, she’s getting psychic visions—seeing actual murders through the eyes of the killer as they are happening. It’s a plot that has been recycled numerous times, but back in 1978, it was pretty unique.
The movie does tend to drag a bit in the middle, and you find yourself just waiting for the next moment when Faye’s killer eyes will kick up the action again. But the movie does have a great cast, including Raul Julia, Brad Dourif, and Tommy Lee Jones as the detective who first suspects Faye of the murders…but then begins to fall in love with her.
Aside from the tame murder scenes, the movie is also carried along by an awesome soundtrack, including disco classics like “Boogie Nights,” “Let’s All Chant,” “Shake Your Booty,” and “Native New Yorker.” And of course, Barbra Streisand sings the haunting theme song “Prisoner.”
The best moments of the movie are when Faye is being chased by the killer…and is seeing herself through the killer’s eyes! It sure makes for some complicated chase scenes! How she of all final girls doesn’t trip is beyond me. On top of that, the big twist was a shocker back in the day.
BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER
(aka: Night Warning) (1982)
Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker, also known as Night Warning (neither title really making sense), was released during the slasher craze, but has much loftier goals—it seems to want to more deeply explore the mommy issues of Norman Bates.
Sweet and innocent Jimmy McNichol plays a young man whose mother and father were killed when he was a baby—in an awesome car accident/beheading, which opens the movie. He is then raised by his controlling aunt, played perfectly by always bizarre Susan Tyrrell.
Lonely, horny Susan throws herself at some dude who rejects her, so she stabs him and says the dude tried to rape her. However, the detective on the case decides it’s all bullshit and that Jimmy’s a big fag (his words, not mine) who killed his lover! WTF? So the detective does everything he can to prove that Jimmy is his basketball coach’s butt boy (his words, not mine) and that Jimmy is a fudge packer (my words, not his) because he had no father and grew up surrounded by women.
So. Is the movie anti-gay or is it trying to prove that homophobia is totally made up bullshit…considering Jimmy is not gay and it’s fucked up heterosexual lifestyles that lead kids like Jimmy to have screwed up home lives and crazy aunts like Susan to go bat shit with a machete.
The bulk of Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker is an entertainingly weird storyline, but then all of a sudden, it becomes Friday the 13th meets Psycho at the end, and it’s awesome. There’s classic slasher atmosphere, murder, and music as Susan Tyrrell joins the ranks of Mrs. Bates and Mrs. Voorhees! This one should be considered an 80s classic but it was tragically overlooked.
As if Jimmy McNichol and Susan Tyrrell aren’t awesome enough in the movie, you need to see the “interviews” with them in the special features of the DVD. They totally rock.