RJ Bayley Reviews: To The Devil A Daughter

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It’s a stellar cast Hammer, it really is. Richard Widmark stars as John Verney, an author of occult fiction with the ultimate “I’m an American with no time for this demonology nonsense” voice. Sir Christopher Lee is the villainous fallen clergyman Father Michael Rayner. Christopher Lee as a Satanic priest! How can that not be fun? Honor Blackman is there, and it’s at least always interesting to see what she’s done outside of Pussy Galore, and Denholm Elliott is here too: he always gives good acting regardless of what he’s in. There’s even a scene with Brian Wilde, which will tug at the nostalgia strings of many a British sitcom viewer.

For the most part they deliver good performances too. Christopher Lee is playing Christopher Lee, but does anyone ever really want Christopher Lee not to play Christopher Lee? Yes Chris, you’ve demonstrated you can really act in Rasputin, The Mad Monk, but I think we can all agree we’d rather you just keep being Christopher Lee. Denholm Elliott also throws himself into his role, clearly really working to elevate the film.

Nastassja Kinski as Catherine, the would-be avatar of Astaroth, is, however, very nothingy and Richard Widmark, while having a great voice, seems very bored with the film he’s in. You can’t blame him. Despite the presence of greatness the movie is almost as phone-checkingly tedious as The Vengeance of She. Hammer’s trying restraint with this one, but restraint isn’t Hammer’s forte. It just feels like it’s treading water, with every character scene feeling like their introductory one: we never get to know any of them. Weirdly it seems like a very inept rip off of The Omen, despite preceding it by a few months.

To The Devil a Daughter is shocking and horrifying, but not in the way Hammer wants it to be. Kudos for the bloody womb muppet monster though.

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