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‘Rosemary’s Baby’ brings chill to summer of ‘68

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Beware your overly friendly, slightly kooky neighbors - and be careful what you wish for.

Those warnings appear to be at the heart of
director Roman Polanski's horror film "Rosemary's Baby" which debuted in
movie theaters in the summer of 1968. But there's something far more
dark and sinister lurking beneath the film's slick surface.

Inspired by Ira Levin's bestselling novel, the
movie starred Mia Farrow as Rosemary Woodhouse and John Cassavetes as
her husband, a struggling actor named Guy. While hunting for a new home,
the young couple become enchanted with an older New York City apartment
and move in, only to learn later about the nefarious goings-on of
previous tenants. After the shocking suicide of a resident, the pair
reluctantly befriend their elderly neighbors and begin trying to
conceive. Following what at first seems to be a nightmare, Rosemary
discovers she is pregnant and eventually learns that her baby is the
Devil's offspring.

Audiences packed theaters to catch the
groundbreaking horror film that was light on blood but heavy on
psychological terror. Although they may seem campy today,
Rosemary's dream sequences and the movie's ending shocked filmgoers and
dazzled critics. The film scored awards, too. Ruth Gordon, who played
the eccentric Minnie Castavet, snagged an Oscar for her acting and star
Farrow was nominated for a Golden Globe.

Yet while "Rosemary's Baby" lives up to its
billing as a horror film, it's also possible to view it as a commentary
on the generation gap that fueled the counterculture. The gaggle of
neighbors who Rosemary believes are plotting against her are much older,
and seem eager to latch onto her youth and naiveté for their own
devious purpose. Those that she turns to for salvation are her peers.

The movie also gives contemporary audiences a
glimpse into the highly orchestrated role - and tightly-coiled angst -
of a mid-20th century housewife. Everything in Rosemary's world is
minutely controlled by others and her attempts at freedom ultimately
prove fruitless.