1: Rosemary’s Baby

It is easy to forget that Rosemary’s Baby pre-dates The Omen and plenty of other films with the idea of the devil being made flesh incarnate*. And it is surprising when you watch it again how much oomph the suspense side of the story has. As Mia Farrow gets more and more paranoid, as she looks sicker and more wan you watch not only with sick fascination but the terrifying idea that she has the very devils baby inside her. But ask yourself, how much more frightening would this be if we had not, in the impregnation scene, seen a bloke painted red with horns prancing about. It is a great hallucination sequence but it is far too literal.

If instead there was a vague suggestion that maybe she was paranoid, then the suspense would have been doubled. At least we don’t see the baby at the end, though we do get the “look at his little hoofie-woofies” ending which manages to both be funny and chilling. The sci-fi remake – The Astronaut’s Wife tried to play this game but queen of the remake Charlize Theron did not have anything like Mia Farrow’s ethereal otherworldliness to get away with it. And of course Theron’s manky tooth didn’t help.

*It is bloody obvious that it pre-dates Demon Seed though, as anyone who has had the misfortune of seeing Julie Christie being put in the club by a – ahem – super-computer will testify.