So, you’re thinking of expanding you’re own brood eh? Well, while you anxiously await the little ghoulie here are a few films that should get you in the right frame of mind.
Before I get into the list though, allow me to introduce myself. I’m what you might call a horror dad. A fan who, by the usual method, arrived with a little creature of my own. Now I live out the average suburban nightmare, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This list is based on my own proposed prenatal movie marathon. My wife didn’t take me up on it.
Where would this list be without a little fetal abduction? This viscous little slasher is, in my humble opinion, one of the best of the french new wave of horror pictures. During her pregnancy our hero Sarah Scarangelo and her husband Matthieu are in a, for Matthieu, fatal car accident. Sarah survives without losing the baby. Now, four months later, she is hunted mercilessly by a mysterious woman who will stop at nothing to rip the baby from Sarah’s womb. The film is ruthlessly uncompromising and brutally violent to boot. To add to the comfort this film will provide you, just consider the many times this sort of thing has taken place in real life. Why, with only a cursory search I found two cases as recently as 2011! Don’t worry though, the baby usually survives.
(Oh look, Rotten Cotton has a shirt of this, what do you know?)
This masterpiece of mania from Larry Cohen features one of the best lines in all of cinema: “Hunting and killing babies doesn’t seem to be my specialty.” Are you a little nervous about what to expect when you arrive in the delivery room? You probably have a lot of pre-conceived notions based on TV don’t you? You’ll either be on the gurney wheeled into the room or holding your loved one’s hand as she bursts through those double doors while everyone fusses over mom and the doctor barks orders. Put those anxieties aside as you watch a monster burst forth from human loins and proceed to kill the whole lot of them. Worried about birth defects? That’s reasonable, but you probably won’t have the same concerns as Mr. and Mrs. Davis, whose child is terrorizing a city and killing left and right. Check out the sequels as well.
(Oh shit! Another awesome Rotten Cotton shirt!)
Is your child to be the product of forbidden love? Did one side of the family or both object to the idea of you and your mate having children? Does it seem like the whole world is out to get you and your kid-to-be? Do you wish you had a pouch? Project away with this piece of 80’s insanity. This film has everything you could want: human-marsupial creatures, a horror director that seems like he should be making Amelie instead of an Australian splatter flick, and mice in marsupial suits. If you’ve ever wanted to dip your toe into a little Ozploitation but wished that your first experience of the subgenre could involve more human-animal hybrids, this is your movie.
(It’s almost like I’m planning it this way…but I’m not)
Are you concerned that your newborn might be a little less cute than you had hoped for? It happens you know, everyone thinks their baby will be adorable but sometimes they just aren’t. Make yourself feel better about your ugly baby by watching one who is so hideous and ill-behaved you would think nothing of throwing it in a running blender. This is really the film that Peter Jackson should have won an Oscar for. It’s straight to the point and nobody cries for anybody named Sam for 10 goddamned hours. Did I mention kung-fu priest?
Probably the most horrific thing one could face during a pregnancy is the possibility of a stillbirth. This unnerving little film takes that fear and ratchets it up considerably. Consider Madeline, pregnant with her first child, who learns that at 8 months her baby has died inside her. She makes the difficult decision to carry the baby to term to bring about a sense of closure. The only thing is, once the birth takes place, her baby appears to be alive. Happy as she is at such a miracle, baby Grace is a little abnormal. Flies become an ever-present nuisance as Madeline tries in vain to feed her. Soon it becomes apparent that all little Grace has an appetite for is blood. The film might be low budget and a little uneven, but it is certainly one of the more unsettling on this list.
From the Czech master of stop-motion, Jan Svankmajer, comes this tale of a couple who are unable to conceive. Upon learning of this upsetting news, the husband happens upon a root which he figures is baby-like enough and so chops it down and fashions it into a doll for his inconsolable wife. This is what passes for being thoughtful in the Czech Republic apparently. He gives this root baby to his wife as a way to hopefully ease her pain. She accepts it and soon begins to treat it as if it were a real child. (Of course she does right?) Soon little Otik begins to show signs of life and the couple have the child they believed they never would. This gift, of course, comes with a deadly price. Don’t they all?
This movie is a classic and with good reason. It showed the world that horror could be taken seriously, it delivered some killer performances and above all it’s downright creepy. Look, I’m a guy so I can’t say this with absolute certainty, but based on observation this is one of the better depictions of the fear and anxiety that accompanies pregnancy. Maybe you’re wondering about that overbearing Mother-In-Law, or the nosy neighbor who seems a bit too concerned. They could just be genuinely interested, or maybe they’re members of a Satanic cult and you are carrying the spawn of the Devil. I guess you’ll just have to wait and see. When were you due again? That’s going to be a long wait won’t it?
Maybe it’s possible that your unborn baby could be both a curse and your salvation. Haunted by a killer who can only reach you in your dreams? Well, if you possess the ability to pull others into your dreams and you are carrying a baby that is constantly asleep, this could present a problem for your friends. Still, the kid might be able to help you vanquish the knife-handed dream stalker too, so maybe it’s not all bad? Not a whole lot to learn about parenting or pregnancy from this one, but it’s a fun ride and the culmination of the Dream Warriors trilogy that started back in 1987 with part 3.
What do you know, if you live in the Houston area, you have a great opportunity this August 25th to see all three of those films screened from 35mm prints back-to-back-to-back! Who is bringing you programming that awesome? Why it’s the Alamo Drafthouse of course! Go here for tickets.
Okay, this one is a real stretch, I know. It deals more with death and it’s aftermath than it does with birth. Still, you do get to see the cycle of life complete and become reborn. It might be a little (Okay a lot) pretentious but it also features some truly amazing cinematography and I found it compelling. Plus, you get to see what sex looks like from the inside, so that’s cool. The plot, so much as there is one, centers around a drug dealer who expresses interest in the Tibetan Book of the Dead and is killed soon afterward. Once dead, his soul floats above Tokyo and observes the aftermath of his death and various, mostly pretty seedy, goings on. Gaspar Noe, previously known for what is probably the most unsettling rape scene ever filmed, delivers a pretty fascinating film. It might not be for everybody but it’s definitely worth giving a shot.
This list has really been in no particular order but I saved this one for last on purpose. I did that for two reasons: one, it’s a personal favorite and two, it’s one of the best representations of the anxiety and fear accompanying new fatherhood. Even if you do get along with your wife or girlfriend’s family, sitting down to eat with them after finding out she’s pregnant is a little weird. Soon the baby is born and your world shrinks and you’re stuck with this inconsolable creature that you often don’t know what to do with. The fear of hurting it is ever-present. It truly is confounding to arrive home from the hospital with infant in tow, sit down on the bed and just say to yourself, “well, what the fuck now?” In Heaven everything might be fine, but it sure as hell isn’t right here, right now. That, my friend, is what you have to look forward to. It’ll probably work out eventually, but at the moment you are thoroughly screwed.
Anyway, sit down with your sweetheart. Pop some popcorn. Watch a few or all of these films and begin to mentally prepare for what comes ahead. I’m sure that this list is glaringly incomplete, but well, I have a kid to raise.
To all the horror moms and dads out there I’d just like to say, don’t screw up because your kids could totally kill you someday.
Also, I’d just like to say that I am absolutely thrilled to have the privilege to contribute to this blog. I’ve been a big fan of Rotten Cotton for a long time.