Never trust a woman with a giant oil painting of the devil.

Woo! It’s time for another horror film review courtesy of the pick of the month over at Final Girl. Are you ready for the glory that is….The Devil’s Daughter?!?!

Here’s what we knew going in: the movie was made for TV in 1973, is 74 minutes long, and stars Shelley Winters, Abe Vigoda, and Joseph freaking Cotten (if you’re not sure who he is, then 1-watch Shadow of a Doubt immediately, or 2-just trust me that the italics are warranted). Believe me, I was excited to sit down with this movie. So just imagine how I felt when the opening credits started, and they looked like this:

Clearly everything I’d hoped for was about to come true. (Becca: “Oh, it’s a James Bond horror movie?”)

But who is this Belinda J. Montgomery, you ask? And where have you heard that name before? Here, she’s the lovely Diane, about to attend the funeral of the mother she hardly knew, meet an old “friend” of said mother (can you guess? can you guess? yep, they were devil worshippers together!!), and find out about her true heritage.

Isn’t she lovely and innocent? But doesn’t she look a tad…familiar? Well, it’s because this fresh face will grow up to be the mother of:

Doogie is the devil’s grandson. How can it be?!?!

Anyway…that “friend” of Diane’s mom is Lilith, played by the great Shelley Winters, who insists Diane stay at her house, introduces her to her mute man servant, shows her the creepy devil painting in the living room, and generally acts really suspicious.

We meet some more suspicious old friends of Diane’s mom, see a suspicious hidden photo album featuring suspicious shots of Diane growing up, and see many suspicious symbols just like the one on a ring Diane gets from Lilith that supposedly once belonged to her mother.

Would you call that an ominous shot? You should, because that kid is about to walk into traffic for no good reason. DON’T WORRY, she saves him just in time!

Well, finally Diane figures out that all ain’t right in Lilith land and moves into an apartment with a perky young gal who totally should have had a That Girl-style sitcom, much to Lilith’s unsettling rage. As you might guess, things do not bode well for the roommate’s survival.

Around this point, Lilith comes right out with it and tells Diane that she’s the Princess of Darkness, destined to marry the demon prince of Endor (yeah, Endor). Diane’s all “whatever,” Lilith’s all “no, for serious,” Abe Vigoda’s all “nothing you can do about it, kid,” and then Diane’s all “whatever” again. Then her roommate dies in a suspicious horse riding accident, and as any good friend and roommate would do, Diane starts dating her boyfriend. A bit of time passes, they decide to get married, Diane tells the demon-worshipping squad to stay out of it or face her wrath, and then asks a kindly judge played by Joseph Cotten to walk her down the aisle. If you’ve ever seen any horror movie ever, you already know that once the wedding is through, the husband is gonna end up looking like this:

And the kindly judge played by a major star of Hollywood’s golden age is gonna end up looking like this:

The Devil’s Daughter may be extremely predictable, but it’s also extremely fun. It’s full of gratuitous zoom shots and terrible make-up and all sorts of neato made-for-TV-in-the-70s things like that, but it also seems like everyone that was involved with it really cared about making it all work. (Side note: director Jeannot Szwarc is clearly six kinds of awesome, since he directed such favorite guilty pleasures of mine as Somewhere in Time and Supergirl, along with a crapload of TV, including the episode of Bones from a couple of weeks ago where Brennan’s dad finally went on trial for murdering that dude. Great stuff.)

Other highlights:

–Stellar words of wisdom Diane receives from the priest who introduces her to the doomed roommate: “If she wants to get to the alter, the way that works best still runs through the kitchen.” Or through the devious machinations of a group of psychos, but not everyone can be so lucky. Learn to bake, girls.

–Diane’s loose-limbed, hair-shaking dancing when she’s kinda sorta possessed in one scene. (Chelsea: “That’s how I dance!” It was true.)

–It’s never really explained just what the hell this cult actually does. They worship the devil or whatever, yeah….but why? And how, besides stalking his daughter? And what happens after Diane marries the demon prince? What is anyone getting out of this? It matters not, I suppose.

–Finally, Lilith’s friends the Poole sisters:

That picture says all you need to know.


1 Response to “Never trust a woman with a giant oil painting of the devil.”

  1. 1 Final Girl May 19, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    “Oh, it’s a James Bond horror movie?” I love that.

    Man, this movie rocked my socks! I want the Poole sisters to move in next door; I don’t care whether or not they worship Satan. They could get me into Shelley Winters’s bitchin’ parties!

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