Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Ten Most Nerve-Wracking Pregnancies in Film

Sure, Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogan are nervous parents-to-be in “Knocked Up,” but that’s a normal state even when the pregnancy isn’t the result of a drunken one night stand. As far as movies go, there have been far more stressful gestation periods as our list of the top ten most nerve-wracking pregnancies in film shows.

10) The Fly (1986)
A lesson in safe sex if ever there was one. Science reporter Veronica (Geena Davis) gets into a whirlwind relationship with wacky telepod inventor Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) and soon finds herself pregnant. The problem is, during a teleportation test, Seth’s DNA merged with that of a housefly, causing him to mutate into an oozing, wall-crawling, vomit-dropping fly-man hybrid. Ronnie’s obviously concerned that the baby will have his father’s eyes (and wings and proboscis), prompting a childbirth nightmare that’s even more disturbing than, well, actual childbirth!

9) The Blue Lagoon (1980)
The third adaptation of the 1908 romance novel finds the sun-toasted Christopher Atkins and Brooke Shields as Richard and Emmeline, two young children who become the eventual sole survivors of a shipwreck that puts them on a desert island in the South Pacific in the 1800s. With no internet access, Dr. Phil shows nor even smart apes to raise them properly, they must traverse the murky waters of puberty in ignorance, and, as one thing leads to another, Emmy soon wonders why she’s getting so fat! It only takes her nine months to figure it out.

8) Rabbit Test (1978) / Junior (1994)
It’s not a common movie debate, but we’ll bring it up: which “pregnant man” movie is the worst? In “Rabbit Test,” Billy Crystal plays Lionel Carpenter, a loveless night school teacher whose first sexual encounter leaves him mysteriously with child. This laboriously unfunny misfire should remain out of print forever. Let us all give thanks that this wasn’t only Joan Rivers’ first time as a director, it was also her last. The pregnant papa plot got another go 16 years later in “Junior,” this time with Arnold Schwarzenegger as the miracle man in what the studio thought was surefire comedy gold! Again, not really. An attempt to give a scientific plausibility to the pregnancy is only one of this Ivan Reitman film’s many mistakes. Ah-nuld’s manic mugging has no reins and the only saving grace is that his C-section spares the audience his full-on labor pains. In all fairness, there have been more movies about this subject, including the 1973 French farce, “A Slightly Pregnant Man,” and as far as we can tell, none of them have been funny. Maybe the world’s just not ready yet. But speaking of the governor of California…

7) The Terminator (1984)
Many expectant parents exhibit delusions of grandeur that their nascent child could grow up to save all of humanity. But in James Cameron’s now-classic sci-fi actioner, that’s literally the case. Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) can’t figure out why she’s being chased by a gun-toting Schwarzenegger until she meets the mysterious Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn). Reese eventually convinces her that the cybernetic Terminator’s been sent from the future to kill her before she gives birth to a son who will lead mankind in a resistance against intelligent machinery that have taken over the world. Reese knows this because he’s also from the future, sent by John Connor to save his mother, and he takes his job seriously enough to be the guy to impregnate Sarah with the heroic seed. Time to stock up on prenatal vitamins!

6) It’s Alive (1974)
In its review, The New York Times warned that this film contains “a scene of childbirth that’s grizzly (sic) enough to put anyone off both motherhood and fatherhood.” They should’ve added “and obstetrics,” as the mutant baby that springs forth from its mama slaughters everyone in the delivery room before setting off on a swaddling killing spree! This is the only film on our list to deal with the anxiety the BABY feels as it leaves the warm, amniotic embrace of the womb for the cold, cruel world in which we enter with a slap and a slice! Brrrr!

5) Alien3 (1992)
After doing battle with the gooey, murderous species in the first two “Alien” films, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) had come to know the skull-splitting creatures intimately. Too much so. In David Fincher’s oft-maligned third entrant in the series, Ripley finds herself the sole survivor of “Aliens,” stranded on an all-male penal planet / mining facility. Distraught over losing the surrogate daughter she gained in “Aliens” to the beasts, Ripley then discovers to her horror that she’s gestating one herself. Not exactly the kind of motherhood she planned on, so she leaps into a river of molten metal at the precise moment of “birth” as the baby alien bursts through her chest.

4) Agnes of God (1985)
In this philosophical / theological mystery movie, a cloistered novice nun, Sister Agnes (Meg Tilly) has just killed the baby she claims was divinely conceived. Or was it rape? And if so, how and by whom? And if it WAS an immaculate conception, doesn’t that make Sister Agnes’ crime, um, REALLY bad? Crusty psychologist Martha Livingston (Jane Fonda) is brought in to investigate, and ends up clashing with Mother Superior Ruth (Anne Bancroft) over the often-at-odds ideologies of faith and science. But not contraception, that’s not up for debate.

3) Dawn of the Dead (2004)
In Zack Snyder’s remake of George Romero’s classic 1978 zombies-in-a-mall flick, Mekhi Phifer plays Andre, an expectant father whose doting on his baby’s mother, Luda becomes even more frantic when she’s bitten by a zombie. Andre ties Luda down in a baby supply store and tries to keep her alive until she gives birth. Bad news for Andre comes in threes: The other refugees have discovered his secret, Luda dies and becomes a zombie before giving birth and his son takes after Mommy!

2) Children of Men (2006)
After a mysterious virus renders the entire world infertile, one lone pregnant woman represents the only hope for the future. Clive Owen plays Theo, the man given the thankless job of shepherding the pregnant Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) through a war-torn world that’s bleaker than a Radiohead record and into the welcoming arms of “the Human Project.” Let’s just say that it takes the stranger-rubbing-your-pregnant-belly invasion of personal space to a whole new level.

1) Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
One of the most agonizing side effects of being pregnant is suffering the interference of everyone who thinks they have wisdom to impart. Never was this more the case than in Roman Polanski’s thriller, in which the expecting young Rosemary (Mia Farrow) is fed herbal tea and snacks by the doting old couple next door. When Rosemary begins to suspect ulterior motives of the Satanic kind, her husband tries to have her committed. The crazy thing is, Rosemary’s RIGHT, but maternal instinct is a powerful thing, and ultimately, she can’t turn her back on the child when it’s born … even if Satan is the baby daddy.

When you think about it, it’s kind of amazing that the “miracle of childbirth”… an occurrence so common that it happens worldwide approximately every second, manages to inspire some truly frightening horror films and comedies rooted in fear and ignorance! Who ever came up with this idea, anyway?

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