This 1962 black-and-white movie scared me - without any blood, gore, or ugly monsters. Granted, I do not watch a lot of horror movies, so I guess I am easy to scare; but this one is not so much horror as drama.
In the beginning of the movie, we are introduced to Baby Jane, a curly blond child star who gathers huge audiences dancing and singing. Baby Jane has a sister, Blanche, who stays behind the scenes. Blanche is either scorned or ignored by her spoiled sister and by her father, who seems to be thinking only about Baby Jane. In one of this moments of rejection, Blanche's mother tells her, "One day, everyone will be looking at you. Please be kinder to your father and sister than they are to you now." The words turn out to be prophetic. The girls grow up, and Blanche becomes a famous actress. Baby Jane, on the other hand, does not have any acting talent. Trying to help her, Blanche has it in her contract that for every movie with Blanche Hudson the studio must make a movie with Baby Jane Hudson as well. The studio reluctantly agrees, but all Baby Jane movies flop.
Baby Jane is far from being grateful to her sister; she is tormented by jealosy. One day, we see a young woman get in a car and drive it to hit another young woman - on purpose. Years are fast-forwarded again, and we see two sisters, much aged, living together in an old mansion. Blanche is in a wheel chair, she is crippled and unable to walk. Baby Jane is an alcoholic. She is still jealous of Blanche's former success, to the point of hiding her fan mail and trying to isolate her from the world. Blanche is helpless, and Baby Jane's hateful actions become increasingly cruel. She goes from killing Blanche's parrot to starving and beating her. This was the scary part to watch: knowing that Blanche is completely in Baby Jane's hands and seeing Baby Jane's sanity slip away. What will she come up with next?
The movie is very well done and well acted. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford shine in the two leading roles, you can feel their fears, anger, and pain. There is a surprise in the end, which I had began to wonder about somewhere in the middle of the movie - I suspected the car hit in the beginning was not what I thought it was. I recommend this film to anyone who is not afraid of a serious drama.