Parents' Guide to

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Bette Davis is unforgettable in classic horror movie.

Movie NR 1962 134 minutes
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This classic film is one of the greatest psychological horror movies ever made. This isn't due to the blood, gore, human centipedes, zombies, and serial killers that dominate contemporary horror, but to the sadistic zeal Bette Davis brings to her role as a washed-up and alcoholic former child star whose descent into madness and delusion leads her to commit acts of incredible psychological cruelty on her sister, played by on and off-screen rival Joan Crawford, who more than holds her own as the paralyzed sister and tortured victim of Davis's cruelty. As "Baby Jane," Davis's actions, voice, and demeanor create a visceral reaction in the viewer. The anger at Baby Jane is palpable as Blanche's horrors grow worse with each subsequent scene of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. The action ratchets higher and higher until anyone with a heart wants nothing more but for Blanche to survive and for Jane to get caught.

These kinds of visceral reactions are hard to come by, and arguably one of the main reasons we watch movies, and horror movies in particular. This is due to the story itself and the acting, and in marked contrast to all the sadistic splatter and excessive audio/visual effects of most modern-day horror films, the former's substance outscares the latter's style every time.

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