Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ten movies not to watch when you're pregnant

Although we'd talked about how it looked creepy, and just original enough to be different, my wife admitted to me this week that she doesn't want to see Splice in the theater.

She didn't have to tell me the reason. I knew it was because she's six months pregnant.

See, Splice, the latest film from Cube director Vincenzo Natali, is about a couple scientists who recklessly create a hybrid of human and non-human tissue in their laboratory. The result is a fast-growing spawn that sprouts wings and has a nasty habit of disemboweling people. Or something equally unpleasant.

If this creature came on the scene as a full formed entity, that would be one thing. But it starts out as the slightly mutated newborn you see above.

Even if she'd had a completely uncomplicated pregnancy, I could forgive my wife for not wanting to see this movie before the baby is born. But there have been complications -- what pregnancy doesn't have complications these days? Thankfully, we seem to be past them, but I can certainly understand her being gun shy.

So that got me thinking about what other movies a person might avoid if they are great with child. When you're on an airplane, you don't want to watch movies about crashing airplanes; when you're pregnant, you don't want to watch movies about horrible things happening to babies. And there are some doozies out there.

Warning! Spoilers to follow! Read at your own risk!

Here are ten of those doozies:

10. Rosemary's Baby (1968, Roman Polanski). Even if you've never had sex with the devil, you still might want to avoid this story about a woman who is impregnated with the spawn of Satan. At least it has a positive lesson: If you should happen to give birth to the Antichrist, you should at least be a good mother to him. (See also -- or, also don't see: The Omen, The Bad Seed)

9. Trainspotting (1996, Danny Boyle). This probably taps in more to early parenthood fears than pregnancy fears, and probably only if you are addicted to smack. But there are a couple moments in this film a mother would never want to have to think about. Lesson: If you don't feed your baby, it will die. And possibly crawl on the ceiling.

8. The Butterfly Effect (2004, Eric Bress). This would-be trippy horror is more laughable than it is spooky, but one of those sort-of laughable parts is something an expectant mother would probably rather not see. Thinking that his life has caused nothing but pain for the ones he loves, the character played by Ashton Kutcher "reshuffles" time so he's a baby in his mother's womb. To prevent this harm to his loved ones, the fetus Kutcher strangles himself with his own umbilical cord. Hey, I suppose it's what we'd have Hitler do if it were possible.

7. Total Recall (1990, Paul Verhoeven). Having a baby on the inside of your stomach is one thing. Having it on the outside is quite another, even if your external stomach baby is as wise as Kuato, the external stomach baby growing out of Marshall Bell's George in this Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle.

6. Alien (1979, Ridley Scott). But what if that baby on the inside wants to become a baby on the outside? A pregnant woman probably wonders if that isn't the baby's intention, kicking at the walls of her womb and trying to burst through to the open air. Kind of like the nasty little alien (aren't all babies "alien," in a sense?) that rips its way through John Hurt's chest at the dinner table in Scott's masterpiece.

5. Freddy Got Fingered (2001, Tom Green). There are a hundred reasons not to see Freddy Got Fingered, regardless of your reproductive status, but pregnant women in particular will probably not enjoy the part where Tom Green severs an umbilical cord with his teeth, then uses it to swing the newborn around his head like a lasso.

4. Antichrist (2009, Lars von Trier). Although Rosemary's Baby is about an Antichrist baby, this is a whole different kind of Antichrist. Like Freddy Got Fingered, there are a hundred reasons not to see Lars von Trier's latest cinematic controversy (genital mutilation, anyone?), but the most salient one for expectant mothers is the opening scene. Willem Defoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, distracted by graphic black-and-white sex, pay no attention as their infant son climbs to an open window and plunges to the street below. At least it's all very artistically done, with an orchestral score, dreamy slow motion, and a big grin on the face of the plunging baby.

3. The Fly 2 (1989, Chris Walas). The Fly 2 is the only film on this list I haven't seen, but I thought I should include it, because the reason I haven't seen it had everything to do with the process of delivery a baby. I remember seeing a trailer for The Fly 2 in which there was the horrifying suggestion of Geena Davis giving birth to a giant maggot, or something to that effect -- a mini Brundlefly. Perhaps this is one of those fears I need to confront (see this post). Though I'm sure the film is terrible, perhaps this one scene will really get me. After the baby is born, of course.

2. Eraserhead (1977, David Lynch). There may be no more chilling incarnation of the concept of "child as alien" than Lynch's pyschologically scarring masterpiece. The couple gives birth to what looks like the offspring of Admiral Ackbar, and the baby, which is really just a head swaddled in blankets, emits strange gurgling laughter and spits up funky liquids. Parents, beware -- you are bringing something into the world that is strange, and not always wonderful.

And the #1 movie not to see when you're pregnant ...

(spoilers ahead)

1. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007, Cristian Mungiu). Most of us will never be in the position of trying to get an abortion in Soviet-controlled Romania, but that doesn't mean it's not a terrifying prospect. The worst moment in 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days -- an absolutely brilliant film in most other contexts -- is when the abortion is successful, and the camera pans downward to an aborted fetus lying on the bathroom floor, quite realistic looking indeed. Yes, they really go there.

Honorable mentions: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (elderly babies?!), Children of Men (infertile wombs?!), A Cry in the Dark (babies eaten by dingos?!)

If you know of any other movies my wife and I should avoid in the next three months, please don't hesitate to leave them in the comments section.


Best baby-in-peril fakeout: Speed (1994, Jan de Bont)

One of my favorite moments in an incredibly tense cinematic experience (my second favorite action movie behind Die Hard) is when a woman starts crossing the road pushing a stroller, and Annie (Sandra Bullock) can't avoid hitting the stroller with the bus. "Oh no!" she screams and covers her mouth, and we in the audience think the same thing as the stroller hurtles through the air.

When it hits the ground, it spews soda cans, waiting to be recycled.

"Cans," Keanu Reeves says with a huge grin and a sigh of relief. "It was just cans."


Don Handsome said...

Stay very far away from 2009's Grace. Its about a child that after apearing to be stillborn comes back to life with a taste for blood, and teeth.

Simon said...

I'd go even farther down that road and not show Teeth to any female considering having sex.

Also, The Astronaut's Wife.

Mike Lippert said...

I'd say maybe just skip Freddy got Fingered althogether maybe? I don't really have anything to add, just wanted to get out that not-so-witticism. Good list.

Vancetastic said...

Don - Grace is now on my list. For later, or for after the wife goes to sleep.

Simon - Isn't Teeth really a better way to enforce abstinence in young men than young women? (Love Teeth, by the way.) I remember Astronaut's Wife getting panned, but I kind of liked it.

Mike - Yeah, FGF should definitely be avoided, but there is also something perversely watchable about it -- when I watched it, my disgust was intermingled with a perverse curiosity.

Lord Vader said...

David Cronenberg's "The Brood" - one of his very best films - would take the #1 spot on this list for me.

Toni said...

You forgot Basket Case! Nothing like giving birth to a mutant baby that shoots out your vaag and kills everyone in the room