Yet another 70’s made-for-tv-terror flick in the spotlight, you ask? You’d better believe it, kids. Originally airing in 1973 as an ABC Movie Of The Week, it was part of the huge wave of “satanic” horror films that were influenced by the success of “Rosemary’s Baby”. This extremely entertaining made-for-TV production offers up every horror cliche found in the book, all the while gleefully ripping off “Rosemary’s Baby” every bit of the way. My opinion, you ask? ”The Devil’s Daughter” can be summed up in one word… Awesome.
The story goes something like this- Diane Shaw, a young woman (Belinda Montgomery), returns home for her mother’s funeral. There, she meets an old friend of moms, Lillith, played by Shelley Winters, in a deliciously hammed-up performance. As if her star power isn’t good enough, the great Jonathan Frid plays her mute butler. I’m not kidding here. Yes, that Jonathan Frid of “Dark Shadows” fame! I know, right? Lillith takes Diane under her wing, introducing her to all her rather strange friends- just wait until you get a load of the Poole Sisters! Before you know it, Lillith has insisted Diane move in with her. All is fine, until Lillith starts becoming rather possessive and cloying of Diane, but by then she realizes she’s caught in something deeper and much more terrifying…
Even for a cheesy tv movie, “The Devil’s Daughter” is much better than it should be. Besides the obvious “Rosemary’s Baby” overtones, the film has great atmosphere, solid tension, some genuine shocks, and a fantastic twist ending. Not to mention a marvelous cast- Shelley Winters, Jonathan Frid, Joseph Cotten, Abe Vigoda, Robert Foxworth, and Diane Ladd all make appearances. The story and material honestly would have been strong enough to warrant a theatrical release, as the trappings of a TV flick hampers it slightly. Certainly not enough to ruin the experience, mind you. It’s still quite entertaining. Besides, it’s got Shelley Winters!
”The Devil’s Daughter” is one of the best-known of all the TV horror flicks of the 70’s and 80’s, and for good reason. It’s every bit as good as “Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark”, “Trilogy Of Terror”, or “Dark Night Of The Scarecrow”. It’s a perfect little slice of TV terror to enjoy this time of the year- and can sometimes be found on television around October. This is a perfect, shut out all the lights, light some candles, and settle down on the sofa for a good scary movie while the wind blows and leaves fall outside kind of flick. Watching this was an absolute hoot from start to finish, I enjoyed it that much. I mean, Shelley Winters, Barnabas Collins, and witchcraft all rolled up into one? Sign me up now, please. Campy and devilish, it’s too good to be true.