Theatrical poster for Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

Whatever Happened to Baby (1962) is exemplary in cinematic history – the grotesqueness of a crazed Bette Davis serving a dead rat to her sister, Jane Crawford, has stood the test of time in the horror and cinematic canon. The film focuses on two aging sisters, one a psychotic former child star – the aforementioned Baby Jane – and paraplegic movie star Blanche who has escaped the public after being run over by her sister years before. 

The film was nominated for five Academy Awards and is notorious for its pre- and post-production feuds between the stars. If the gossip interests you, I recommend the mini-series Feud: Bette and Joan by American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy.

Blanche and Baby Jane

The gothic setting may conjure the thought of hauntings, though this is quickly circumvented by the very real and very haunting Baby Jane who doesn’t need a ghost to haunt. The horror is primarily psychological, though despite a lack of blood, guts or demons, it creates a distinct isolation and panic in audiences as Blanche becomes more desperate to escape her sister.

Black and white horror can be difficult for some to approach but I would suggest that making an exception for this film (and Some Like It Hot (1959) but thats for my Marilyn Monroe column). The performances of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford transcend the visual markers of its age. They are fantastic. Actors take note.

You Mean All This Time We Could Have Been Friends?

Bette Davis and Joan Crawford as feuding sisters in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

I highly recommend this film. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? is a cinematic marvel, both of its time and today. Four and a half Cthulhus out of five.

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)
About the Author

I am a writer located in Melbourne, Australia that works as a freelance writer, artist, curator, historian and podcaster. I am interested in philosophy, sexuality, art history, curating and feminism. I write personal essays, academic reviews and studies as well as poetry and short fiction. My writing practice relies on passion, humour and vulnerability. I am an absolute horror movie nut. I believe it spawns from being an extremely scared child who could barely be around Halloween decorations let alone watch The Exorcist. But for some reasons I would still read the Wikipedia plots of these films as well as staring at the horror section at our local Blockbuster as if it could come alive and attack me as a singular genre. When I eventually watched Paranormal Activity at fifteen (my first watched horror movie), I realised that nothing in cinema could match my manifested childhood fear and instantly fell in love with the genre. My adult fears are far more abstract now like failure and dying alone. My favourite horror film is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (which I've written entire academic essays on for my art history degree), with close runners up being The Exorcist, The Shining, Taxidermia and Train to Busan. I am also a true crime and conspiracy aficionado and the resident expert on all things spooky for my friends and family.

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