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I Don't Want to Be Born (1975)
(aka The Monster, It's Growing Inside Her)

Directed by Peter Sasdy

DVD Review: I Don't Want to Be Born (1975) Starring Joan Collins, Ralph Bates, and Donald PleasanceI Don't Want to Be Born is 1970s horror movie about a woman who gives birth to a demonic baby. The script is weak and boasts too many absurd scenes to mention, but the production benefitted from a capable cast and that was a big plus that offered some compensation for the movies many negatives. Initial movie reviews were bad, and one early reviewer commented, "Why decent actors like Eileen Atkins and Donald Pleasance allowed themselves to be corralled into a mess like this is enigmatic." Despite the movies many failings it proved to be a success with many viewers and I Don't Want to Be Born is now considered a cult classic.

The opening scene is set in a delivery room. The central character, Lucy Carlesi (Joan Collins), is trying her best to give birth. She has worked up quite a sweat and is screaming in pain while her physician, Dr Finch (Donald Pleasance) is trying his best to assist with the delivery and becoming increasingly perplexed. "What's wrong sir?" the nurse (Floella Benjamin) asks him. To which Finch replies, "This one doesn't want to be born."

Hilary Mason, Joan Collins, and Ralph Bates in I Don't Want to be Born (1975)

In the end Finch is forced to resort to the use of forceps to pull the clingy child away from its mother, but for Lucy the problems are just beginning. Her baby boy is unusually large. He is also very strong and shows his violent tendencies early on when he attacks Lucy for trying to give him a welcoming cuddle. The following close up shots of a cute-looking baby with blood dripping from his fingernails and smeared around his mouth may cause a few viewers to begin shaking, but when the shaking starts it will more probably be due to laughter rather than fear. 

Lucy's husband Gino (Ralph Bates) does his best to be supportive, but Lucy finds it hard to bond with their vicious offspring and it doesn't help matters when baby Nicholas starts trashing his room. "It's hard to believe he's so big and strong," Lucy's friend Mandy (Caroline Munro) tells her when she witnesses the carnage. "He frightens me," Lucy admits and then shares a strange story with her.

Lucy used to be an exotic dancer and her act was assisted by a dwarf called Hercules. Lucy tells Mandy she had always suspected the little guy had amorous intentions towards her, but never gave the matter much thought. 

I Don't Want to be Born (1975)

On Lucy's final night working at the club Hercules entered her dressing room and tried to force his intentions on her. Lucy screamed and the stage manager rushed to her rescue and threw the pint-size pervert out of the dressing room.

Then—in a move that is supposed to explain Lucy's present predicament—Hercules cursed her as she was leaving the building. "You will have a baby, a monster—an evil monster conceived in your womb—as big as I am small and possessed by the devil himself." As retaliation for a knock back it seems like somewhat of overkill, but the little guy's words appear to have come true and the fact that the dwarf is called Hercules ties in nicely with the baby's phenomenal strength.

Nicholas' behaviour becomes increasingly violent, but Dr Finch assures Gino there is nothing to worry about so Gino continues to try and calm Lucy's growing fears. Lucy isn't the only one who can see what kind of monster she has produced though. The Carlesi's housekeeper Mrs Hyde (Hilary Mason) is fearful of the blue-eyed terror as well and it soon becomes evident that  Gino's sister, Albana (Eileen Atkins), can also tell something is not right with her nephew and in the end Albana, who is a nun, does the only thing she can—she performs an exorcism on the demon baby.

Although the storyline is ludicrous Director Peter Sasdy (Countess Dracula, Taste the Blood of Dracula, Hands of the Ripper) manages to make I Don't Want to Be Born a strangely watchable movie. Joan Collins' character is easily the strongest in the movie, and Donald Pleasance was a good choice to play Dr Finch, but Ralph Bates fails to inject any real power into the character of Gino. He gets top marks for persevering with his ongoing struggle to try and speak with a convincing Italian accent.

The main problem with I Don't Want to Be Born is the demon baby. As far as little terrors go, baby Nicholas fails to deliver the goods. The only time he appears vaguely sinister is when shots of the baby are replaced by shots of Hercules in a yellow romper suit—truly the stuff of nightmares; dwarfs and romper suits are always a bad mix.

As killer, Nicholas also lack credibility. H reaches out from his pram and pushes his nanny to her death; he decapitates another character by careful use of his adept garden spade swinging skills, and even manages to place a rope around the neck of a full grown man and pull him up into a tree, hanging him by the neck until dead. Even a demon baby with a history of steroid abuse could never achieve these things so it's all rather daft, but I Don't Want to Be Born still has a certain cringeworthy entertainment value.

Viewers who are searching for a more credible movie about a devilish baby may find their time better spent with Rosemary's Baby, but viewers who prefer movies they don't have to take too seriously, or who feel warm and fuzzy every time they see a dwarf in a romper suit, probably won't find too much to complain about.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Runtime: 90 mins

Certificate: 15 (UK),  R (USA)

 

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