One of a spate of movies about modern-day Devil worship spawned by ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968), this ABC movie of the week, directed by genre specialist Jeannot Szwarc,
features an eclectic cast that ranges from Hollywood veterans Shelley Winters and Joseph Cotton to Dark Shadows star Jonathan Frid and future Barney Miller favorite Abe Vigoda.
Deeply religious Alice Shaw (Diane Ladd) returns home from church to find a pair of burly strangers waiting in her rundown apartment. Terrified but not surprised, she tells them and their sinister boss, whose face remains cloaked in shadow, that she won't let them take her daughter. Though Alice pulls a gun, she somehow winds up shooting herself through the heart.
At her mother's funeral, aspiring commercial artist Diane (Belinda Montgomery)
meets the wealthy, flamboyant Lilith (Winters), who claims to be one of Alice's oldest and dearest friends. She invites Diana to stay with her while she decides what to do next. Diane, who's spent her life in boarding schools, welcomes the opportunity to learn more about the mother she rarely saw and is delighted when Lilith gives her an unusual ring; Alice gave it to her for safekeeping, Lilith says -- it was a gift from Diane's father. But Diane is soon overwhelmed by Lilith's imperious manner and strange friends, notably the eccentric Poole sisters (character actress Lucille Benson, later of TV's Bosom Buddies, and acclaimed jazz vocalist Thelma Carpenter, in a rare acting appearance). She's also unnerved by Lilith's mute servant, Mr. Howard (Frid), who seems to want to tell her something, but finds sympathetic ears in avuncular Judge Weatherby (Cotton), who handled her mother's financial affairs, and kindly Father MacHugh (Ian Wolfe). McHugh, her mother's parish priest, advises Diane that she'd be better off in the company of young people like herself; he even knows a kindergarten teacher, Susan Sanford (Barbara Sammeth), who's looking for a roommate. Lilith objects vehemently, but Diane moves out anyway, though she incautiously returns to Lilith's mansion for a party and is hailed by the guests as the "Princess of Darkness." More disturbing still, Susan dies in a freak accident shortly after. Though deeply shaken, Diane finds herself falling in love with handsome architect Steve Stone (Robert Foxworth), the man Susan had just begun dating: Perhaps love will protect her.
Despite its downbeat ending, mix-and-match cast and clichéd satanic hugger mugger, THE DEVIL'S DAUGHTER is a pretty entertaining romp through dark family secrets, '70s cultural preoccupations and TV movie strip-mining of popular obsessions. Winters camps it up wildly, Cotton tries to maintain a certain dignity and the Frid glowers balefully as the younger cast members go through the familiar paces.
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- Released: 1973
- Rating: NR
- Review: One of a spate of movies about modern-day Devil worship spawned by ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968), this ABC movie of the week, directed by genre specialist Jeannot Szwarc, features an eclectic cast that ranges from Hollywood veterans Shelley Winters and Joseph C… (more)