Directed by Peter Sasdy [Other horror films: Journey Into Darkness (1968, segment ‘The New People’), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970), Countess Dracula (1971), Hands of the Ripper (1971), Doomwatch (1972), The Stone Tape (1972), Nothing But the Night (1973), Witchcraft (1992)]
Known under various titles (among them The Devil Within Her and, most mystifying, Sharon’s Baby), I Don’t Want to Be Born isn’t among the highlights of British output in the 1970’s. I think the movie’s moderately enjoyable, truth be told, but it’s not exactly good, and I think many would be able to see the shortcomings the film possesses.
Chief among them, in my view, is the lack of cohesion. A dwarf puts a curse on a woman’s baby, but aside from that single scene (and in fact, it happens before the woman in question is even pregnant), we get nothing more. Yet come the end, it seems as though the baby and the dwarf are inexplicably connected. We’d only seen this dwarf character (played by George Claydon) a handful of times, and for the most part, he seems a normal guy.
In a way, though, I can let it go. I wish we got a bit more information, but it’s not something that dramatically decreased my enjoyment. There was still a high enough body count and decent enough performances to keep me reasonably entertained.
Of anyone, Donald Pleasence was the nicest to see. He didn’t have the biggest role, but I enjoyed his screen presence, especially his conversations with Eileen Atkins, who was my second favorite here. I don’t know the actress, but for a nun, I found her fun. This isn’t to take away from Joan Collins (Tales from the Crypt), who did a pretty good job, or Hilary Mason (Dolls and Meridian), but Pleasence and Atkins stood out the most.
Many of the kills here weren’t that strong, but a few were solid in ways reminiscence almost of The Omen (which this movie predates by a year), such as a woman hitting her head and drowning or a guy getting hung from a tree. The best death, by far, was a decapitation toward the conclusion. It wasn’t particularly gory, but the scene was fun.
Nowadays, despite the fact that this film (again, like many movies from the 1970’s) was played straight, I Don’t Want to Be Born can come across as both a little silly and sometimes overly dramatic. The ending lacks the pizazz you’d hope for, but even if it was tidied up a bit nicer, the film still would have been on the lower-end of British cinema.
That said, I did like it more this time around as opposed to when I first saw it. I don’t think it’s significantly better, but there was charm in seeing the bustling London streets, and in a film with an evil baby a year previous to The Omen (at the time of this writing, I’ve not yet seen It’s Alive from ’74 – edit; I have), it was nice to see most of the cast being on the same page about the nature of the baby.
Is the film still below average? Yeah, I’d say so, but I can also see myself watching this a third time without much consternation, so that must mean something.
This is one of the films that has been covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. If you want to hear Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss I Don’t Want to Be Born/Sharon’s Baby/The Devil Within Her, look no further, brahs.