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To the Devil a Daughter [DVD] 
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Excommunicated priest turned Satanist Michael Rayner (Christopher Lee) places a young girl under his spell, hoping that she will bear a child that will be the offspring of Satan. Occult novelist John Verney (Richard Widmark), with the help of an ancient manuscript, attempts to intervene and undo the spell.
Hammer's To the Devil a Daughter was the last film made by the once great studio. Clearly ailing, Hammer again adapted a novel by Dennis Wheatley, the author behind one of their greatest successes, The Devil Rides Out (1967). Unfortunately for the studio, films such as Rosemary's Baby (1968) and The Exorcist (1973) had, in the intervening decade, radically changed horror cinema. With American star Richard Widmark echoing Gregory Peck's role in the far more polished The Omen (1976), the film seemed, rather than setting the pace as Hammer once had, to be very much jumping on the 1970's occult band-wagon. Christopher Lee is the satanic ex-communicated priest whose coven plan to incarnate the ancient demon Ashteroth, while a supernaturally beautiful Nastassja Kinski demonstrates the same willingness to disrobe as in Cat People (1982). Even so, this lacklustre, misogynistic film couldn't compete with Carrie and Suspiria (both also 1976) and Hammer thereafter concentrated on TV productions. Surprisingly, director Peter Sykes' next film, Jesus (1979), as well as being the most seen and internationally distributed film ever (with an audience of over two billion by 2000), is also the most faithful portrayal of Christ yet committed to celluloid. --Gary S. Dalkin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This film, Hammer's last feature length horror, is an excellent adaptation of Dennis Wheatley's novel. It is very tense and quite frightening in places, especially as the forces of evil do have the upper hand for most of the film. Richard Widmark as Verney is terrific, maybe an unlikely choice for many, but he is entirely credible as he begins to understand what a dangerous situation he finds himself in. Christopher Lee is gives a sinister, underplayed performance as the very dangerous Father Michael.
There are a couple of reasons that stop this film from being a classic, the hand puppet emmissary of evil, and a terribly rushed garish ending. Apart from those quibbles, its a very fine film, and it really is a shame that Hammer concentrated solely on television output after this.
A flawed classic. 4 out of 5
Adapted from a novel by Dennis Wheatley (author of many occult novels, including the famous "The devil rides out", also adapted by Hammer) this film gathered together quite an ensemble casting. Christopher Lee is of course the main attraction, but Richard Widmark, aged but still valiant is also an asset. Young Nastassja Kinski is a very pleasant damsel in distress - it was only her second role, six years before her big break in "Tess". Denholm Elliott (later wordly famous for his appearances in "Indiana Jones" franchise) is very good indeed. Last but not least, we have Honor Blackman, one of the greatest actresses ever - and if you think this statement is exaggerated, please try to say "My name is Pussy Galore" with a straight face and we will see if you do not change your mind...)))
Made the same year as the terrifying (and much, much better) "Omen", this movie tried to get on the train of fascination with occult, started three years earlier by the already legendary "Exorcist" (also an infinitely better film). Sadly, it mostly failed, because of the poor scenario. This film is not scary. AT ALL. The story is very predictable and even good actors mostly go through the motions. The only one who is really allowed to give an effort is Denholm Elliott, who shows really well how terrified can be a man who saw hell and is desperately trying not to see it again... There is a kind of grotesque creature appearing at one moment, but far from being scary, it is a mixture of obscene, gross, cute and ridiculous... The ending is pretty lame. Finally, there is also one absolutely unnecessary scene in which a newborn baby is murdered in a very, VERY explicit scene and I absolutely hated that one.
Novel's author Dennis Wheatley, who was still alive then (he died next year, at the respectable age of 80), HATED this film and made it clear to Hammer directors, that he will make it certain that they never, EVER can adapt any of his books again.
In this film there is much more nudity than in other Hammer productions, but it really didn't add much to the story. OK, granted, this is the only film in which we can see Christopher's Lee naked posterior and he indeed had a quite good butt for such a professional bad@ss...))) On this subject - some sources claim that this bum belonged to a stunt - but still I think Christopher Lee can claim it by right of major@ss...)))
Nastassja Kinski who begins the film as a nun, makes later a full frontal, which was considered quite scandalous, as she was 15 at the time... And then, there is a completely unnecessary and rather not very appealing scene of a black mass with quite a lot of intercourse shown... But frankly, there is hardly anything very exciting here.
The only reason why I give this film two stars instead of one is of course Christopher Lee, who is simply grandiose as a renegade priest of Anglican (or maybe Catholic) Church. The scene of his excommunication is possibly the best in the film and honestly, I can fully understand why Christopher Lee would be excommunicated (even his face would be reason enough) - the thing I simply can not understand is who could ever let him in to the first year of seminary...)))
Bottom line, this is a rather bad, disappointing film. Only for the most devoted fans of Christopher Lee or Hammer films - otherwise, stay away from this and re-watch "Omen" or "Exorcist" again.
Firstly as the previous reviewer stated its an excellent cast and unlike the later Dracula films Christopher Lee has a proper role which makes good use of his screen presence and unique voice. Denholm Elliot is also very good and the rest of the cast do a fine job. In many ways TTDAD resembles 'The Devil Rides Out' because it is also based on a Dennis Wheatley story, but I think the overriding influence was probably Hammers attempt to cash in on the success of the Exorcist and The Omen.
As for the previous reviewers comment about the violence being unacceptable I'm afraid I can't rationally explain this. There is only one scene which can possibly be considered for this and nothing is shown, you only see the after effects (and this is just tomato ketchup). There is a little bit of nudity, but in terms of violence there is nothing here to upset the regular horror film fan. By comparison to a lot of modern horror films this is a restrained and subtle affair.
So overall an enjoyable film which was a fine swan song for Hammer.
PS. Should be very popular with fans of Nastassja Kinski.
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