Okay, so I know as far as ‘modern-day’ Mia Farrow goes, acting very much seems to be in the rear-view mirror – in fact it has been more than six years since she appeared on screen, instead now devoting her time to charitable causes.

And it is also fair to say that Farrow was never really known as a ‘horror’ actress either (indeed, a number of the films below are not strictly ‘horror’), stepping across genres in a fascinating career.

But, for me, Mia certainly deserves recognition for the times she did dip her toes into our favourite genre, turning out a series of performances (in a series of stylish films) that have comfortably stood the test of time.

In fact, 70s vintage Farrow marks one of my favourite bodies of work of any actor – so here’s a look back at her darker offerings:

 

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

I think we can all easily agree that director Roman Polanski’s effort is a seminal movie of the genre – a slow-burning, creepy, intelligent offering that reels the viewer in with ease.

Much of that success is down to Farrow’s turn as Rosemary Woodhouse, a potent cocktail of innocence, confusion, paranoia and panic.

Mia is put through the ringer here, with her character drawn in to a devilish cult after moving in to a New York apartment complex – a maelstrom that will eventually see her give birth to what may be the son of the devil.

Throw in the pixie cut that turns up half way through the film (courtesy of Vidal Sassoon) and you have an iconic character that remains instantly recognisable to genre fans even today.

 

 

Secret Ceremony (1968)

Released the same year as Rosemary’s Baby, but to fare less fanfare and recognition, Secret Ceremony is a dark, moody offering that relies heavily on psychological traits.

Farrow plays Cenci, a lonely young woman that strikes up a relationship with Elizabeth Taylor’s Leonora, a mother grieving the death of her daughter. To add confusion to the mix, Leonora just happens to look like Cenci’s late mother.

Throw in a possibly abusive father (played by Robert Mitchum), suicide and murder this is no picnic – with the film’s tagline ‘It’s time to speak of unspoken things’ certainly holding true.

Mia more than holds her own against the two acting heavyweights and the film makes a neat, and unusual, accompaniment to her other genre outing of the year.

 

See No Evil (1971)

A corking thriller (also known as Blind Terror) that once again does not get the credit it deserves, Mia is in fine form here as Sarah, recently blinded in a riding accident.

Heading to the English countryside for some rest and relaxation with family, she gets nothing of the sort as, wouldn’t you know, a crazed (and seemingly perverted) killer decides to pick off her family after a perceived slight.

Sarah is the lone survivor, then subjected to series of cat-and-mouse exercises in terror as she is stalked by the unknown killer.

Director Richard Fleischer handles things masterfully, cranking up the tension, while also imbuing the film with a real nasty streak – also turning the film into a whodunnit, with the killer not revealed until the film’s final scene.

 

Full Circle (1978)

Anyone who has spent any time on our site (or in my company) knows this film is something of an obsession of mine.

Very much a ‘lost classic’, Mia plays Julia Lofting, a young mother who sees her daughter die in her arms in a choking accident.

Released from hospital after recovering from the trauma, Julia moves into a new house in London, only to become entwined in a supernatural tale of ghostly visions, seances, evil children and unexplained murders.

Shot with incredible style by director Richard Loncraine, the sense of loss is almost suffocating, with Farrow’s performance sensational  – a textbook portrayal of grief.

 

The Omen (2006)

Returning to the genre after a near three-decade gap, Farrow took on the role of Mrs Baylock, made famous by Billie Whitelaw in the 1976 original.

Say what you will about the remake – which almost seemed pitched to cash in on the June 6, 2006 release date (6/6/6 – geddit?) – Mia’s turn is one of the film’s strong points, producing a nicely-sinister turn as the nanny with an unhealthy devotion to the child, Damien.

 

Farrow certainly had skills, and I’d argue that there have been very few actresses that can ‘suffer’ as well as her (which also popped up in the likes of non-genre flicks Avalanche). With features that were born for the big screen, and a way of transmitting that the world’s troubles sit on her shoulders, I’m sure Mia’s performances will continue to thrill me when I watch these films yet again.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.