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To the Devil a Daughter (1976)

 -  Horror  -  July 1976 (USA)
5.8
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 2,174 users  
Reviews: 40 user | 62 critic

An American occult novelist battles to save the soul of a young girl from a group of Satanists, led by an excommunicated priest, who plan on using her as the representative of the Devil on Earth.

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(screenplay) (as Chris Wicking) , (adaptation), 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Anna Fountain
...
Henry Beddows
...
George de Grass
...
Catherine Beddows
Eva Maria Meineke ...
Eveline de Grass
...
David Kennedy
Derek Francis ...
Bishop
Izabella Telezynska ...
Margaret (as Isabella Telezynska)
...
Kollde (as Constantin de Goguel)
Anna Bentinck ...
Isabel
Irene Prador ...
German Matron
Brian Wilde ...
Black Room Attendant
Petra Peters ...
Sister Helle
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Storyline

An excommunicated priest sets up a satanic cult that only looks Catholic on the outside. He convinces a man to sign over his daughter's soul so that she will become the devil's representative on earth on her eighteenth birthday, but as that day nears, the man seeks the help of an American occult novelist to save his daughter, both physically and spiritually. Written by Brian J. Wright <tyrannorabbit@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Warning! This Motion Picture Contains The Most Shocking Scenes This Side Of Hell! See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

July 1976 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Child of Satan  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The preproduction was troubled by Hammer and EMI problems in finding a suitable name actor for Verney and a director too. See more »

Goofs

When David burns alive, the stunt performer's head and hands are clearly covered with a greenish protection headpiece and gloves. See more »

Quotes

Father Michael Rayner: It is not heresy, and I will not recant!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Found (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

 
TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER (Peter Sykes, 1976) **1/2
30 April 2008 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

The reputation of Hammer’s last horror film has always been fairly maligned (for a variety of reasons) but, when I finally watched it – via a pan-and-scan PAL VHS – some years back, I recall being reasonably impressed by it. Somewhat perversely, I chose it to end my month-long tribute to the recently deceased Richard Widmark – given that he was notoriously cantankerous throughout the film’s shooting and would subsequently single it out as the one regret of his 44 year-long film career!

Re-acquainting myself with TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER by way of the Anchor Bay R1 DVD, I was pleased to discover that my initial reaction to it remained pretty much intact – though, obviously, I no longer felt that initial shock to some of its more intense and bizarre sequences. Anyway, the film was a companion piece to Hammer’s previous Dennis Wheatley adaptation – THE DEVIL RIDES OUT (1967) – in which Christopher Lee had atypically played the hero; however, the author wasn’t as enthused this time around – since his novel was considerably bowdlerized in the transition – and declined the company further access to his works (they had previously acquired the rights to yet another of Wheatley’s occult tales, “The Satanist”)! Lee co-stars in this one as well – but, here, he reverts to his favored (on-screen) element i.e. The Dark Side: his character of Father Michael is actually among the most believably sinister he ever played (going about his diabolic business with a thoroughly calm demeanor and, often, a chilling smile on his lips!). As for Widmark, I’m glad he was sensible enough to understand that, whatever his personal feelings (the Hollywood star clearly seemed to consider the material beneath him), he still owed the public a good performance – and there’s no denying the fact that his no-nonsense occult novelist emerges as a most fitting opponent to Lee.

The convoluted plot involves the rebirth of the demon Astaroth in human form – its vessel being a nubile girl (played by the luscious Nastassja Kinski), brought up in seclusion as a nun! Lee is a priest who has been excommunicated for challenging the belief that Man depends on the ‘presence’ of God to guide him through life – contending that Man is perfectly capable of making his own Destiny (with a little help from the Forces of Darkness). Aiding him in his scheme is veteran Michael Goodliffe, the wonderful Denholm Elliott is featured as Kinski’s recanting wimpish father, and Derek Francis as the Church official who has barred Lee from service. In Widmark’s corner are his husband-and-wife agents, played by Honor Blackman and Anthony Valentine – both of whom eventually find themselves on the receiving end of Lee’s evil powers.

Among the film’s notable sequences: the unnatural birth of the demon child (displaying a harrowing intensity quite uncommon to Hammer’s usual output), the two scenes depicting the monstrous appearance of the baby itself (one in which it slobbers all over 17-year old Kinski’s bloodied naked body Lee slams as “obscene” in the accompanying documentary!), the would-be depraved rite/orgy (presented as a nightmare in the vein of the not-too-dissimilar ROSEMARY’S BABY [1968]) and, of course, the much-debated climax (nowhere near as godawful as many seem to think, the scriptwriters having at least put an extra effort into coming up with a mystical explanation for the denouement, but the rushed execution of it is decidedly limp!). In essence, then, this is not at all a bad send-off for Hammer Films – and, easily, among their better offerings of the decade (incidentally, I’ve just acquired the obscure Sci-Fi/Western hybrid MOON ZERO TWO [1969] from this legendary brand, which promises to be fairly goofy)…

To get to Anchor Bay’s DVD edition, the one quibble I have with it concerns the ‘processed’ quality of the sound effects (background noise, gunshots) in a couple of sequences. Whilst serving as a moving valediction to a bygone era, the 24-minute featurette is a great account of the nerve-racking making of the film (with its last-minute revisions to the script, problems securing a director, and Widmark’s temper-tantrums). Apart from over-hyped trailer, extensive poster/still gallery and detailed biographies for both Widmark and Lee, one is able to access a hilarious Easter Egg from the “Extras” menu – an excerpt from an interview with leading Hammer Films stunt-man Eddie Powell, wherein he discusses his multi-purpose duties on this particular title (which included doubling for Lee in a scene requiring his character to appear in the nude!).


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