PG Cooper: Movie Battles: Rosemary’s Baby vs. Alien

Posted: August 9, 2012 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Movie Battles

This is the start of a new series I want to do. In this series, I will take two films which are similar in some way, and pit them against each other. Judging them in various categories, I will keep score until the end where I will declare a winner. For the first “Movie Battle”, I will be comparing two horror/pregnancy films; Roman Polanski’s 1968 film Rosemary’s Baby and Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien. I wouldn’t recommend reading this if you haven’t seen these movies since I’m going to spoil the hell out of it. I should also note that these comparisons are not necessarily about the quality of the films. For instance, in this battle I’ll be judging how each film works as horror/pregnancy films.

1. Best “Mother”

It’s interesting using the term “mother” for this category since in Alien, the Mom is a man named Kane, played by John Hurt. Now I like Kane. He’s likable enough, he’s played by the awesome John Hurt, and he has one of the coolest deaths in cinema history. But at the end of the day, he’s not a very deep character. His main purpose in the film is to help bring the titular alien into the world. Rosemary on the other hand is a great character and Mia Farrow’s excellent performance really caries the film. John Hurt, I love ya, but Rosemary takes this in a landslide.

Rosemary’s Baby: 1

Alien: 0

2. Best Father

The father of Rosemary’s child is the Devil himself. We only see him in one scene, and we only see brief glimpse of him, but that’s all we need. It’s pretty hard to compete with the Devil, but Alien makes a strong case. The father in Alien is a mysterious creature commonly referred to as a facehugger. As the name suggests, the facehugger latches onto victims faces. Once it has done this, it impregnates them with the alien seed. That’s a pretty damn amazing concept. There’s also a lot of mystery to the facehugger. The Devil is the epitome of all evil, but there isn’t a lot of mystery to him. He’s the Devil. The facehugger on the other hand raises a lot of questions? Where did it come from? How as it conceived? Are the others? Where are they? How old have they been around? Some of these questions are answered in Aliens and Prometheus, but the original is shrouded in mystery. I’m also going to judge the design. The Devil looks scary in Rosemary’s Baby, but we only see very brief glimpses of him. I have a feeling if the camera pulled back and we got a good look at him, the design wouldn’t hold up. The facehugger’s design still holds up though. It was scary in 1979, it’s scary now, and it’ll be scary forever. The Devil may be the ultimate evil, but I feel the facehugger is way more creative. Going with Alien.

Rosemary’s Baby: 1

Alien: 1

3. Best Conceiving Scene

The first forty or so minutes of Rosemary’s Baby are pretty tame. A gradual sense of unease is built, but it never fully descends into horror…until the conceiving scene. Rosemary is drugged and has a surreal dream fill of bizarre and horrific images. The audience isn’t entirely sure what is real and what is in Rosemary’s head, but we also get images of Satan raping Rosemary. Alien has a pretty strong conceiving scene too. Kane is studying an extra-terrestrial egg when it opens up and the facehugger launches onto Kane’s face. Simple, elegant, and horrifying, it’s one of the best scenes in the film. That said, I have to side with Rosemary’s Baby. As great as the conceiving scene in Alien is, the scene in Rosemary’s Baby took the film from being tense to being terrifying.

Rosemary’s Baby: 2

Alien: 1

Best Pregnancy Symptoms

Rosemary complains throughout the majority of her pregnancy that she feels stomach pains. Farrow’s performance is so strong that you can almost feel said pains, but that’s about the extent of her pregnancy symptoms. She also becomes paranoid of her neighbours, but that doesn’t really count as the pregnancy symptoms. Kane’s pregnancy symptoms are a bit more interesting. Kane has the facehugger attached to his face for a number of hours, leaving him comatose. The crew of the Nostromo do their best to remove the creature, but are unable to. When they pull on its legs, the creature tightens its grip around Kane’s neck, threatening to strangle him. They can’t cut it off either since the creature bleeds acid which would not only kill Kane, but eat through the haul of the ship as well. The creature eventually falls off and dies on its own, and Kane seems fine, at least until the birthing scene (which I will get to shortly). Bottom line, the pregnancy symptoms in Alien are far more interesting and memorable.

Rosemary’s Baby: 2

Alien: 2

Best Birth Scene

Rosemary’s Baby doesn’t actually have a birth scene. Rosemary goes into labour, is sedated, and then wakes up being told the baby died in child birth. Alien, on the other hand, has this. Um, yeah. Alien, no contest.

Rosemary’s Baby: 2

Alien: 3

Best Offspring

Rosemary’s child is never revealed to the audience. We see Rosemary peer over the cradle and scream with horror. She asks what’s wrong with the baby’s eyes, to which the coven replies that he has his father’s eyes. The coven then breaks into chants of, “Hail Satan!” Despite never seeing the child, we don’t need to. The execution is so masterfully done that we can tangibly feel the child is the offspring of Satan. What could compete with that? One of the greatest creatures in the history of film can. The alien creature is, to put it bluntly, awesome. Concealed in shadow through most of the film, the alien is a mysterious entity and a near indestructible force. Not to mention that the more of the creature is revealed the more impressive its design is. Also consider how the alien creature is like a perfect storm of terror. Smart, tactical, strong, quiet, stealthy, and it uses its victims to insure its own survival. Not only is it difficult to kill, but its acidic blood make it undesirable to kill in many ways. As Ash says, it’s the perfect organism. When you factor in that Rosemary’s kid doesn’t actually do anything and the alien kills five people it becomes clear that Alien wins here.

Rosemary’s Baby: 2

Alien: 4

Best “Mother”/Child Relationship

Rosemary loves her child throughout. When she is still pregnant, she delights and thinking of possible names, worries that her pains are hurting the baby, and promises her child that no one will hurt them. After the child is born Rosemary is horrified by the result, but only at first. Given a few minutes, Rosemary begins rocking her child, showing she still cares for him. As I mentioned earlier, Rosemary loves her child throughout, and that’s what’s so horrifying about the ending. The implication being that despite Rosemary’s son literally being the spawn of evil, he’s still Rosemary’s son and thus she loves him unconditionally. It’s a truly fascinating relationship. The relationship between Kane and the alien is also interesting. Using Kane as a host, the alien is a parasite who takes what he needs before he’s ready to burst into the world (literally). But their relationship doesn’t go much further that. After the alien is born, Kane is dead and their relationship is at an end. Rosemary and her child’s relationship, on the other hand, is just beginning.

Rosemary’s Baby: 3

Alien: 4

Best Use of Pregnancy for Horror

In this category, I’m going to look at how each film uses pregnancy as a way to be scary. Rosemary’s Baby creates a tense world where everyone seems to be out to get the titular characters baby for malicious purposes. Rosemary’s body and child are also violated by evil and the pregnancy causes Rosemary vicious pains. It is truly scary, but the downside is it’s only fully effective to 50 percent of the audience. The film can never be as scary for men as it is for women since men can not become pregnant. So while a man watching the film may be frightened by what’s going on, at some point he’s going to think, “I’m glad this can’t happen to me.” I know that thought passed through my mind more than once during Rosemary’s Baby. But with Alien, anyone could be a victim regardless of gender. The film even subverts the entire pregnancy by making the first victim a man. Not to mention the actual births. In Rosemary’s Baby, Rosemary is put under and is not conscious during the child birth. Nothing too scary there. Where as in Alien, Kane starts convulsing violently before an unknown alien creature rips through his chest, killing him.  Painful, brutal, and fatal. You could argue that Rosemary’s Baby has a scarier aspect in that Rosemary has to live with the horror of knowing her child is the spawn of pure evil. That’s a valid point, but I personally find a mysterious alien creature bursting through my chest and killing me a scarier alternative. Plus, as scary as Rosemary’s Baby is, there has to be some comfort in knowing that on Earth, people can at least hear you scream.

Rosemary’s Baby: 3

Alien: 5

This concludes my first movie battle. So what do you think? Is this a fun series? Did Alien deserve to win or did I sleight Rosemary’s Baby? What other movie battles should I do? Let me know in the comments!

  1. le0pard13 says:

    Ha! That was clever, and an enjoyable read. Well done, Daniel.

  2. rochpikey says:

    This is an awesome idea! I think there reason this is so clever is because you took two films I would have not normally compared. Like I feel it would have been too easy to do Scott’s Alien against McTiernan’s Predator. I really enjoyed the horror/pregnancy comparison and could not have agreed with the different categories more. Well done! I look forward to the next one.

  3. vinnieh says:

    An interesting and highly original post. Very good post

  4. Can’t argue with those results! Really clever feature, nice work!

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