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Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 10/11/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I missed this film when it first came out in the 70's As a huge Hammer fan, I wasn't aware of the decline in the quality of their films until I was much older and could view them a bit more critically. I did finally see this in a second run house and thought, despite its obvious flaws, that it was a fine addition to the Hammer canon. I was a bit surprised when I purchased it on DVD how well the film has held up. Despite an editing job at the conclusion that can only be charitably be described as butchery and a script whose quality faded like a print left in the sun too long, To The Devil A Daughter is still pretty powerful stuff. It's considerable more violent (with nudity)when compared to Terry Fisher's classic adaption of Dennis Wheatly's novel The Devil Rides Out. Wheatly was the source for Daughter as well and the use of Lee in the role as the sinister fallen priest creates a bit of continuity between the two films (although Lee was, surprisingly, the hero of Rides Out).The print is pretty good (an improvement over Dracula Prince of Darkness another Anchor Bay release where the negative was clearly faded and the transfer appeared "jittery"). The extras including a no holds bar documentary featuring director Peter Sykes, producer Roy Skeggs, the two main screenwriters, actors Christopher Lee, Honor Blackman and David Anthony. All are surprisingly candid about the film's shortcomings. Lee knew Wheatly and so is able to provide interesting insight to the project. The script's uneven tone is the result of it passing through at least three different writers.The tales the actors share of Widmark's tantrums (calling the film a "Mickey Mouse production"; storming off the set when he discovers the Director of photography doesn't use key lights; deliberately knocking over the wind machine and telling them they needed one from Hollywood to do the job; coming into the studio commisary to demand his day's pay from producer Roy Skeggs), the last minute rewrites and the badly reshot/edited ending (which allows the film to end with a whimper and not the promised bang) are all intereting. While the film made loads of money (Hammer was playing catch up. They had been passed by with the release of The Exorcist, Rosemary's Baby and The Omen), none of it went to Hammer as they didn't finance the production. The studio went down like the Titanic after colliding with the economic realities of the 70's.The film looks stylist; director Peter Sykes does an admirable job and his director of photographer (who also worked on Catch 22)gives the film a bigger budget look that it really had. Sykes directs with a visual flair and imagination lacking from almost everything that Hammer produced during this time. While Ken Russell, Peter Collinson (Straight on Till Morning, The Italian Job)and others were approached for the job, it's doubtful they could have done a better job given the circumstances. It's the uneven content of the script that ultimately undoes much of the impact of Sykes' direction and the actor's performances. With new script pages coming in the day before (or day of)shooting, the script's quality is wildly uneven. Sykes manages to do a decent job of making it hang together.What would have been more interesting would have been to cast against type; have Lee play the occult novelist and American actor Richard Widmark play the villan. To The Devil a Daughter is last shout for help from a grand sinking ship. It's a minor classic that lacks much of what made Hammer great in the 50's but still has enough imagination to make it a contender."
Devilish good Christopher LEE in okay horror film
Manfred Zeichmann | Austria | 04/26/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"British film studio HAMMER's penultimate movie and their last horror flick while not a masterpiece does in my view not deserve its bad reputation among horror buffs. The plot may not be too original but it is still enjoyable viewing.
The story revolves around a writer of occult novels (Richard WIDMARK), who is asked by a fearstriken man to look after his daughter, a nun, who visits her father in London. A group of satanists, led by Christopher LEE, hunt her, because they need her for an evil ritual...
It goes without saying that Christopher LEE is absolutely great as devil worshipping priest with telepatic powers. He is not the only though to deliver a powerhouse performance. I particularly liked Denholm ELLIOTT, as the girl's father. The scene, where he sits half insane of fear in a chair in the centre of a pentagram gave me the creeps!
I also liked the demon embryo - nice special effects. Other points of interest are the good use of nice London locations, an excellent score and brief full frontal nudity provided by the young Nastassja KINSKI, who was very popular in Germany at the time. Christopher LEE's character also drops his clothes during a wild devil worshipping orgy, but it is quite obvious that he was bodydoubled in this scene.
However the plot is far from original, a bit slowmoving and the conclusion not very satisfying.
Picture quality is very good. The DVD also features excellent extra features. There is an highly interesting 24 minute documentary TO THE DEVIL...THE DEATH OF HAMMER. There is quite a lot of information about the film in this brief documentary - it concerns the author of the novel on which the movie is based (Dennis WHEATLEY also wrote the book THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, which HAMMER turned into a successful film), difficulties with the script, WIDMARK's dissatisfaction with the film in which he starred (he called the movie a "mickey mouse production"), and the original ending (which was dropped, because it resembled SCARS OF DRACULA). Interviewees include among others Christopher LEE, director Peter SYKES and producer Roy SKEGGS. Indispensable for HAMMER fans!
Also included is the film's trailer, extensive biographies on LEE and WIDMARK and an excellent still gallery, featuring promotional photos, behind the scenes pictures and British, German, French and Spain poster art and video tape cover art."
To The Viewer A Ripoff
Steven Kuroiwa | San Francisco, CA USA | 07/05/2001
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this movie(English Title: "To The Devil A Daughter") because I have recently become a big fan of British horror film actor Christopher Lee. Sadly, this film is not only the last but also the worst of the Hammer horror films.Richard Widmark plays an occult expert who agrees to look after a young girl(Nastassja Kinski, in an unimpressive early role), who he later finds out is a member of a devil worshipping cult. Christopher Lee portrays a defrocked priest who leads the cult and wants Satan to possess Kinski."Die Braut des Satans" is a disappointment. The dialogue between the characters sounds unrealistic. The film also wastes a great cast. Widmark looks foolish and Lee is given nothing more to do than just look evil. Honor Blackman(Unforgettable as ... Galore in the James Bond classic "Goldfinger") is given a thankless role as one of Widmark's friends. A creature in the movie looks like a rubber frog. Scenes of sex and nudity do nothing to make the film any more exciting or interesting. Lastly, the movie ends almost as if it were unfinished. For a great Christopher Lee-Hammer horror film on the occult, see "The Devil Rides Out," which was less graphic(And better)."
Golden - Well, OK, Silver - Oldie
snalen | UK | 01/06/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For anyone who loves horror movies and has a robust sense of nostalgia, there is a certain warm and cosy feeling that creeps upon one on seeing that something is a Hammer Film Production. And here is one of the more durable products of that late lamented outfit. Nastassja Kinski, who would go on to become one of the iconic faces of 80s cinema in movies like "Tess", "Paris, Texas" and "Cat People" is Catherine who has been carefully raised by the sinister and ambiguously named Children of Our Lord sect in Germany to be rebaptised as a personification of the God Ashtaroth. Her dad Henry Beddoes (Denholm Elliott) is signed up to the conspiracy but loses his nerve and seeks help from a writer of supernatural horror fiction John Verney (Richard Widmark). So the movie is a conflict between the effective if rather out of is depth Verney and Chief Baddie Michael Rayner (Christopher Lee - who else?). It isn't exactly terrifying. The climax is something of an anticlimax and there are misjudged touches such as the rather silly and not very frightening demom baby Catherine dreams about. But it's enormous fun. It looks great. Widmark and Lee are value for money. Kinski of course is gorgeous if a bit too passive to be very much else. And the show is completely stolen by Elliot. Cinema history is full of people - folk like Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck, Bruce Willis, Russell Crowe - who were ever so good at depicting strong heroic types. But if it's weakness you want, Elliott really has no rival and his portrayal here of a weak man in a constant state of spineless abject fear is a brilliant illustration of that fact. Some much needed humour is supplied by splendid little cameos, most notably by Frances de la Tour as a zealous Salvation Army group leader and Brian Wilde as a pedantic old lady of a librarian. A minor classic. Definitely minor. But definitely classic."
The Film Itself -- Ehh. The "Making-Of" Documentary -- Outst
- Durrkk | Ohio/PA border USA | 05/09/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Occasionally I'm in the mood for an occult mystery/horror film like "Bay Cove," "The Devil Rides Out" (AKA "The Devil's Bride"), "Race with the Devil and (to a lesser extent) "Rosemary's Baby," which explains why I recently picked up this 1976 Hammer film "To The Devil A Daughter" (which was Hammer's answer to American horror hits like "The Exorcist" and "Rosemary's Baby"). Hey, with Nastassja Kinski, Richard Widmark, Christopher Lee and Honor Blackman in the cast, how can you go wrong?
THE STORY: In London, Richard Widmark plays an occult novelist who is asked to protect a man's daughter, a young nun (Kinski), from a cult of satanists led by a malevolent Christopher Lee, who possesses supernatural powers. They need her for some diabolical ritual.
The story is loosely based on the Dennis Wheatley novel. Wheatley was furious with the numerous changes and called the film "obscene."
WHAT WORKS: The picture pretty much maintains your interest as the mystery slowly progresses.
The London (and Germany) locations are excellent. They seemed to have more money to work with in this regard than most Hammer films. Speaking of Hammer, "To the Devil a Daughter" doesn't FEEL at all like a Hammer picture. Don't get me wrong, I love the unique, colorful ambiance of Hammer films, but this is a nice (and unsuspected) change.
For those who care, Kinski is shown completely naked from the front. Unfortunately Lee is also show in the nude, albeit from behind. One thing I never cared to see in my life was Christopher Lee's butt.
There's a fairly shocking, obscene "devil baby" sequence. I'm not sure yet if this scene fits or even makes sense (I'll have to see the film again to decide) but they did a good job with the infant F/X, at least for 1976.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Like I said, the mystery has a fairly good build-up but the ending somehow doesn't quite work. Yes, they throw in some bizarre things -- the aformentioned "devil baby" scene and a wild satanist orgy (which is more silly than shocking) -- but, I don't know, I was left feeling a bit disappointed. It should have ended with a bang (at least I expect it to), but it doesn't.
COMMENTARY: This was Hammer's penultimate film and their final horror picture. Surprisingly, "To the Devil a Daughter" was a hit and made lots of money (at least in Europe), but Hammer Studios had debts to pay and the film's success couldn't save them.
BOTTOM LINE: The film itself is just okay, so I can only barely recommend it to those interested in occult/mystery stories, Hammer and the actors involved. What makes this DVD worth picking up, believe it or not, is the excellent 24-minute "making-of" documentary that discusses the film and the demise of Hammer Studios; it's called "To the Devil... The Death of Hammer." The documenary includes interviews with Lee, Blackman, the director, the producer and many more. It's very informative and entertaining. By all accounts Widmark was arrogant and a real bastage to work with. The Hollywood star frequently insulted the English filmmakers (calling the picture a "Micky Mouse production"), walking off the set, arguing, brawling and kicking over expensive equipment (!!). Every aspect of the film is addressed, including changes from the novel, Wheatley's objections, the ending's failure, etc."