9 September 2003 | fookoo
This is NOT a third rate horror movie!
This is not a film for the occult horror film aficionado. "To the Devil...a Daughter" has already received a few whithering reviews that are all justified. Dennis Wheatley, the author of the book, condemned it because there was little resemblance to his novel and what appears on screen, except for the title. Currently available on wide screen 16X9 anamorphic transfer, the DVD contains a 24 minute documentary with recent commentary by Peter Sykes, the director, and Roy Skeggs, the producer. "To the Devil...a Daughter" is a well done film that demonstrates what a first rate director is capable of with a limited budget. This film turns out to be the horror film equivalent of "Casablanca" because the movie as originally scripted was not filmable. Hence, with the start of production, the script was continually being written on a day to day basis by Gerald Vaughan-Hughes, an uncredited screen writer. "To the Devil...a Daughter" followed the genre setting "The Exorcist" and "Rosemary's Baby" and was the last Hammer film because it was too little and too late.
"To the Devil...a Daughter" is one of the earliest Nastassja Kinski films and must have been seen by Roman Polanski who realized her potential. It is not a chessey film, but does have a few pieces of cheese in it. The most obvious one is the full frontal nudity scene of a very young Nastassja. Yes, it is cheesey, but from an editing view, is more shocking than titillating. In her first scene, it is apparent that there is more than a passing resemblance between Nastassja and Ingrid Bergman - innocent, clean beauties. In one of the scenes, Nastassja was having a problem actually getting the tears that the director wanted and there had been quite a few retakes. Richard Widmark said to the director, "when I say turnover, turnover, it's going to happen." Sykes started the film rolling and Widmark hit her right "in the chops" and the tears came and he said, "OK, now act." The cast is first rate and included Richard Widmark (who was pretty disgusted with the film and threatened to walk out on it), Christopher Lee (of horror film fame), Honor Blackman a renown actress at the time in Britain (known to American audiences as Pussy Galore of the James Bond "Goldfinger," and Denholm Elliot as the German bad guy in "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
It is best to watch "To the Devil...a Daughter" with no expectations and let the film naturally unfold, without preconceived mental baggage. If one is steeped in the occult traditions, then this movie is not for you because of its glaring errors - all made up by the afore mentioned screen writer. Otherwise, the mood of the picture is quickly set by Richard Widmark's,
"98% of so called satanist are nothing but pathetic freaks who get their kicks out of dancing naked in freezing church yards and use the devil as an excuse for getting some sex, but then there is that other 2%, I'm not so sure about them."
Christopher Lee's role as the maniacal, ex-communicated priest brings to mind the great performance of Boris Karloff as Imhotep in the 1932 "The Mummy," who had the supernatural power to project thought over space and time. "To the Devil...a Daughter" is well paced with its race against time.