Far from being a prolific author Ira Levin wrote only seven novels, but they included one that prompted the late 1960’s gothic revival, Rosemary’s Baby, as well as the transhuman nightmare The Stepford Wives, cloning thriller The Boys from Brazil and Sliver, all of which were made into films – and made their author a great deal of money. Along with these he also wrote the long-running Broadway comic thriller Deathtrap (which was also later made into a film). His major works, those that were transposed to the silver screen intertwine in a strange, occult way, almost suggesting Levin knew something unspoken, and had encoded it into his works, much the same way as it is alleged Stanley Kubrick had.
When he was twelve Ira Levin said he was fascinated by the magicians of Tannen’s Magic Shop in Times Square and he learned about concealing reality behind illusion. He liked detective stories and had a collection of mystery books. Anagrams played major roles in Rosemary’s Baby and Son of Rosemary. Ira Levin continued the tradition of using the transposition of letters (Lon Chaney Jr. in Son of Dracula) and basics of cryptology (Poe in The Gold Bug).
The first book we’ll look at, ‘The Stepford Wives’ (1972) was supposedly a satire on American culture, its anti-feminist theme subtly poking an eye of the recently liberated women of the world. It was a patriarchal wet-dream of the future, centred around a seemingly normal suburban town where the men attend secret meetings, during which they plot with a neighbour and ex-employee of Disneyland (a specialist in animatronics) to replace their wives with robotic doubles, obedient housewives and grateful sex kittens ready to perform their duties at a moment’s notice, with no complaints.
The second book, ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ (1967) was a diabolic tale involving the implanting of the seed of a demon in a young woman. A young couple – Guy and Rosemary – move into an apartment block (the Dakota building, New York, famous for being the scene of John Lennon’s assassination) where they befriend an eccentric elderly couple, who initiate the Guy into a secret occult group based within the building. With Guy’s consent, they drug Rosemary, and through a satanic ritual involving sex (rumoured to have been scripted by Church of Satan leader Anton Le Vey) they impregnate Rosemary with the seed of the Anti-Christ, in much the same way as Aleister Crowley suggested was possible with his Moon Child ritual. Incidentally, the film was directed by certified child pest Roman Polanski. (see this post at vigilantcitizen for more details on Rosemary’s Baby and its occult links)
The third book is ‘The Boys From Brazil’ (1976) in which a German scientist – who escaped prosecution after WW2 by hiding out in South America – implants dozens of women with the genetic descendants of the German beast, Adolf Hitler. These little Hitler clones would grow up to become the new leaders of the Third Reich, the thousand year empire of the Nazis.
Three different books, that all seem to have something in common. The Boys From Brazil and Rosemary’s Baby are both about implanting women with a demon seed, with the intention of having them take over – and presumably enslave – the world. The Stepford Wives relates to both the others in that it also is about enslaving the world – this time the world of women – by replacing them not with genetic clones but with Disney-tech robotic clones. It also has in common with Rosemary’s Baby the idea that people are meeting in secret to implement their plans.
We have yet to discover any links to secret services with Ira Levin – although he was drafted into the US army signal corps (1953-55), where, whilst stationed in Queens, he wrote and produced training films. But considering nearly everything he wrote was immediately pushed into the public consciousness and popularised (some creepier elements of which still linger with us today) he is to us an intriguing character. The occult links to Rosemary’s Baby alone – both its story and the controversy surrounding director Roman Polanski – coupled with Levin’s fascination for magic, ciphers and, as he described it, the concealing of reality behind illusion, are enough to suggest something else was going on below the surface with his work.
for more see –