Beasts: Baby 1976

Also from the pen of Quatermass scribe Nigel Kneale, the Beasts series on ITV horror drama from the mid 1970’s is rarely seen; not all the episodes have dated well, and the single location, acres of dialogue formula that was due to budget restrictions works against episodes like After Barty’s Party. Baby is probably the best of the bunch, and has a haunting charm that’s well worth seeking out. Jo (Jane Wymark) and her vet husband Peter (Simon MacCorkindale) move into a country house, but during renovations, find an urn buried in the wall, with a mummified creature inside. Neither Peter not his colleague Dick (T.P.Mckenna) can work out what the creature is, but Jo, who is pregnant, doesn’t want it in the house. He wishes are not carried out, and the signs point to witchcraft. Baby goes the extra mile in terms of disturbing details (professional discussions of abortions in cows are juxtaposed with Jo’s body dysmorphia) and the pre-credits sequence sets up the idea of some kind of natural sickness. Baby is something of a legendary status amongst young people who saw it back in 1976, but it still has a lasting impact seen today. Like most of Kneale’s work, it’s due a proper dust-off for streaming.

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