THE MONSTER (aka I Don’t Want To Be Born) *** UK 1975 Dir: Peter Sasdy. 90 mins
Memorably titled SHARON’S BABY in the U.S. (there’s no one called Sharon in the movie) alongside THE DEVIL WITHIN HER, this bonkers British entry in THE EXORCIST possession movie cycle throws in parts of IT’S ALIVE and DON’T LOOK NOW for good measure. Plus the most insulting movie use of a dwarf this side of THE SINFUL DWARF.
Joan Collins is a former stripper whose future offspring was cursed years ago by Hercules the Dwarf when she spurned his sweaty advances. She gives birth to a 12lb baby with help from medics Donald Pleasence (!) and Floella Benjamin (!!) and the early signs aren’t good: it scratches her face during its first cuddle, rips the heads off toys and plonks a dead mouse into housekeeper Hilary Mason’s cup of tea. Nun Eileen Atkins suggest the infant may be possessed by (in her accent) the ‘Day-vil’. Collins’ proud husband Ralph Bates acts like a crazy person and similarly has an accent just a couple of script rewrites away from “Justa one-a Cornetto!” The most horrifying thing on screen is their sex scene, accompanied by a wailing sax.
It’s a crudely made picture given director Peter Sasdy’s excellent earlier Hammer horrors, and is cynical / reactionary in setting up Collins’ character as an unsympathetic tart who gets what’s coming to her. But it’s also an irresistibly tacky slice of mid-70s bush ‘n’ gore British tat. Kudos to Pleasence for being typically committed, Atkins for keeping a straight face while attempting an exorcism on a baby and, of course, dear Joan for making a sincere fist of the Ellen Burstyn concerned mother role. For no extra cost, you also get a dubbed Caroline Munro, typically fetching as Collins’ sadly-dumb stripper pal.
Review by Steven West