When audiences turned in to the ABC Friday Night Movie on October 29, 1976, they got to see the sequel to one of the biggest horror films ever. However, what they ended up watching had little to nothing to do with its inspiration, 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby, or the Ira Levin-written sequel Son of Rosemary.
The only actor to return from the orginal is Ruth Gordon as Minnie Castevet and we all know that you can’t trust the combination of Old Hollywood and Satan.
Sam O’Steen, an editor on the first movie, directed this sequel. He also directed a ton of amazing films, such as Cool Hand Luke, The Graduate, Chinatown, Straight Time, Silkwood and Working Girl. He also edited perhaps the scummiest and most Italian horror movie to ever emerge from a major American studio, Amityville II: The Possession.
The movie breaks its story down into three different books.
The Book of Rosemary: A coven prepares for a ritual only to learn that Adrian, the son of Rosemary (Patty Duke, who was considered for the original movie, taking over for Mia Farrow) is missing from his room and hiding in a synagogue. Sure, the coven can hurt the rabbis, but because they’re in a house of God, everyone is safe.
The next morning, Guy (George Maharis from Route 66 taking over for John Cassavetes, which is the dictionary definition of several steps down) gets a call from Roman Castevet (Ray Milland taking over for Sidney Blackmer, so at least Old Hollywood stays in the picture) and asks him to keep an eye out for his wife and child. Roman could really care less, because he’s a big Hollywood star now.
While Rosemary calls him, Adrian is bullied by some kids and goes full on Daimon Hellstrom on them. Luckily, a prostitute named Marjean (Tina Louise!) saves them, but you know that she has to be a fallen woman in league with Satan. She calls a possessed bus to pick up Rosemary and drive her away from her son. Now, he belongs to the coven.
The Book of Adrian: Twenty years later, Adrian is living with his Aunt Marjean in a casino and acting up. He’s played by Stephen McHattie (Hollis “Night Owl” Mason from the Watchmen movie) and he loves speeding, drinking, fighting and getting into trouble with his pal Peter (David Huffman, F.I.S.T.). As he arrives at his 21st birthday, Roman and Minnie arrive and drug him, getting him ready for his ascension to be the Antichrist, which pretty much involves him possessing a bunch of people who just want to disco dance and standing by while his father kills his best friend. Oh yeah — Broderick Crawford plays the local sheriff, which means that even more Old Hollywood is here in the service of Old Scratch.
The Book of Andrew: The coven has allowed Adrian to take the murder charge as he wakes up in a hospital. Donna Mills plays a nurse named Ellen who helps him escape. This is probably the second-best thing Ms. Mills has ever done. The first? Her epic self-help VHS tape, The Eyes Have It.
Of course, Ellen is really the granddaughter of Roman and Minnie. Even as they lose Adrian as he runs away after his father hits Ellen with his car — of course she survives — they already have the next generation of the devil all locked up. Why this happens and why we sat through this entire film is the kind of mystery that I’ve made this site for. After all, I’ve watched this epic made for TV turkey so many times that I’m embarrassed to divulge the true number.