Hell hath no fury like a Shelley Winters scorned. Dressed in black with orange hair and lipstick to match, and using the power of the evil eye whenever feeling double-crossed, she could probably make anyone tinkle from fright. As it must have happened to Belinda Montgomery’s character when shunning Winters after finding out she was (moody organ music, please) THE DEVIL’S DAUGHTER. Yes, this soapy 1973 ABC TV-movie of the week is heading for high-camp, thanks mostly to director Jeannot Szwarc (JAWS 2).
The man who more recently was at the helm of some episodes of Grey's Anatomy, Supernatural and Bones has gathered then a bunch of talented people to recreate what ROSEMARY’S BABY had been for the big screen: a scary tale of Satan and His crazed followers. What we get instead is a decently-made but way over-the-top romp that wickedly highlights the crazed antics of its star nemesis, Miss Winters. She truly embodies the role of a 666 groupie who must lure innocent Belinda Montgomery into her circle of hell aficionados that includes a bunch of other well-known old-timers such as “Dark Shadows” Jonathan Frid, WILD AT HEART Diane Ladd and CITIZEN KANE Joseph Cotten. Since she’s no picnic, you can imagine the degree with which she partakes in her scheme to sponsor the netherworld. Szwarc almost makes her drool at the mouth every time she does her thing, which is often and which is such a blessing, as we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Same thing with the so bad it’s so good storyline. Put together by HAROLD AND MAUDE screenwriter Colin Higgins, its premise may have looked somewhat decent on paper but the execution is nothing but. Melodramatic with a tempo that matches the script trite dialogue, this poor man’s Polanski offering is just a cinematic time bomb ticking for the inevitable explosion, which comes sooner than we think with a mind-boggling dance of the devils little number involving the cast. You should see drug-induced Montgomery going at it as her evil opponents chant to her every move; so far out in its absurd choreography, you wouldn’t believe. The film has one good scene in its favor and it’s the devil devotee’s glowing eyes sequence nearing the climax that adds a little substance to what’s been left without for the past 70 minutes. The setting in which it simmers may be a chill giver (finally!) but in the end guffaws can only best describe this outrageously-made hot piece of celluloid delivery.
Until next post—Martin