Peter Sasdy (director)
Network on Air (studio)
11 October 2021 (released)
This 70s exploitation schlocker can be regarded either way… namely as a career low for all those involved or as a cult classic, albeit for all the wrong reasons. Which ever way you may look at it, fact remains the film boasts a stellar cast including three ‘dames’: Dame Joan Collins, Dame Eileen Atkins and Dame Floella Benjamin (these days a life peer in the House of Lords, would you believe it!).
The concept of this movie, ridiculous and absurd as it seems, would perhaps have succeeded more if Stanley Price’s script hadn’t have been so flawed from beginning to end. In a nutshell, the premise concerns former stripper Lucy (Joan Collins), now happily married to respectable and rich Italian Gino Carlesi (Ralph Bates failing miserably in his attempts at an Italian accent), an executive hotshot. In a brief ‘prequel’ sequence we see Lucy dancing on stage in her former strip club although for her last ever appearance she decides to dress like a gypsy girl clad in exotic clothes. Joining her is her long time stage partner Hercules (George Claydon), a dwarf who secretly fancies her and later on, after she invites him for a farewell drink, makes a pass in her dressing room. Enter stage manager cum Cockney sleazebag Tommy Morris (John Steiner) who interrupts Hercules’ unsavoury attentions at the last minute and yes you guessed it, despite being betrothed to Gino, the wicked Lucy has had a thing going with Tommy. As she packs her bag and leaves the building for the last time, an incensed Hercules curses Lucy with the words “You will have a baby…a monster! An evil monster conceived inside your womb! As big as I am small and possessed by the devil himself!”
Forward to the present (that’s London in the year 1975 in case you’re interested) and Lucy has just given birth to a strong, healthy baby boy according to Dr. Finch (Donald Pleasence) though if the startled look on the nurse’s face (Floella Benjamin) is anything to go by then something’s not quite right… As it turns out a short time later it isn’t because the baby boy seems to possess Herculean strength (there’s a hint…) and scratches his mommy’s face. Later at home, Lucy and Gino are soon at their wits end when they realise the baby seems to have a lust for destruction. Their elderly housekeeper Mrs. Hyde (Hilary Mason) has her finger bitten by the little monster and when Lucy’s best friend/former work colleague Mandy (Caroline Munro) drops by for a visit both women witness in horror the baby virtually demolishing the nursery (not that we ever get to see the baby in action mind you). And so it goes on.
At the end of their tether, Gino and Dr. Finch decide that the increasingly fragile Lucy needs rest and thus nanny Jill Fletcher (Janet Key) is drafted in to look after the baby though it doesn’t take long before disaster strikes in a scene that should be shocking but is actually so ridiculous it’s laughable. With nanny out of the way, next up to take on the baby from hell is Gino’s sister who is actually a nun by the name of Sister Albana ((Eileen Atkins not faring much better with her attempts of an Italian accent) who susses straight away that the baby is possessed. Soon, the bodies pile up and Gino and Dr. Finch both shuffle off this mortal coil in a particularly gruesome manner… just where is the baby getting his strength from in order to attach a noose onto a tree branch and decapitate Finchy with a garden shovel? Does the little horror suddenly grow in height and then shrink again? All the while Lucy is plagued by hallucinogenic visions in which her baby son morphs into Hercules, malignantly grinning in the cradle. Is there anyone who can escape the clutches of the dwarf’s curse? The sad truth is that you will most likely not give a solitary toss!
So well, here then is the horrific (oh yes, horrific!) saga of the unfortunate Carlesis and their baby boy from hell. Quite how this film ever managed to get made in the first place beggars belief and why – of all the potentially worthwhile British horror films out there – THE MONSTER (aka I DON’T WANT TO BE BORN) was chosen for a Blu-ray release also almost beggars belief.
At least the Bonus material (Interviews with director Sasdy, continuity supervisor Renée Glynne, trailer, limited edition booklet etc.) provides perhaps more background info and insight.