To the Devil a Daughter

February 16, 2009

to_the_devil_a_daughter_poster_01My comedy partner, Trev Neal, bought me a boxed set of Hammer horror films for Christmas. 21 films! And beautifully packaged, but that’s by the by. Last night I watched To the Devil a Daughter. I had fond memories of this film from when I was young, but then I realised, it’s nothing to do with it being a good film. If you were a teenager in the 70’s, and you’re like me, you’ll have fond memories of any film with nudity in it, even one as bad as this.

It’s a poor film that makes no sense at all. I think. Something to do with Astoroth and making Nastassja Kinkski an avatar for him. Astaroth? Avatars? Aren’t they the little pics we use on computers? Anyways, women give birth to demon babies, then have the babies crawling back inside and really, it’s all just one big excuse to show us some good old fashioned bush, by George! At one point, the devil baby, clearly a bloody glove puppet, sticks his tongue out and we can see it’s not a real tongue, but a tongue made out of a condom, covered in blood. I’m not making this up.

When the film isn’t being so… satanic… Anthony Valentine (the nasty Nazi from Colditz) plays Mastermind with Honor Blackman… I bet she was wishing she was back with Bond when they filmed that scene. There’s almost no soundtrack, giving the film a realism at odds with the nonsense we’re seeing. Richard Widmark’s the big star, and, according to an accompanying documentary, he was hard to work with. He couldn’t believe how unprofessional Hammer were. Gregory Peck and William Holden probably said “Do it, Dicky, we had great fun with those Omen films.” (I’m just going to assume they knew him, and called him Dicky Widmark).

Then there’s Brian Wilde, Foggy from Last of the Summer Wine, and the soft guard from Porridge. Here he plays a holy man who looks after the Church’s library of evil books.

I can remember so little of it now. And that’s after seeing it last night. The main thing I remember is the bloody puppet baby crawling up Nastassja Kinski’s legs as she writhed around on a bed and licked her lips. no change there then; I felt fifteen once more. which is maybe slightly worrying. The film was released in March 1976. Nastassjia Kinski was supposedly born in January 1961. This was Hammer’s last film. Perhaps they had to do a runner. And I’m off now, to choir; to try and purge myself of the evil Trev Neal has brought into this house.


7 Responses to “To the Devil a Daughter”

  1. Trevor Neal said

    Sorry about the evil – maybe that’s why they were selling it at such a knock-down price – The Sale of Satan.

    Oh I forgot to tell you – when I came up to do the podcast last Wednesday, with the Hammer box set in my bag, I stopped off at the services on the motoway to buy some sweets and snacks and a bottle of Coke and other unhealthy stuff and the bill came to 6 pounds and 66 pence…strange indeed.

  2. Andrea said


    btw: you do both realise that ‘evil’ sounds a bit like ‘Trevor Neal’, don’t you?

  3. Simon Hickson said

    His name is an anagram of Eval Teror. With an N left over, and very bad spelling. But then, the Devil never went to school.

  4. […] me a boxed set of Hammer horror films for Christmas. I recently watched To the Devil a Daughter. You can read some of my thoughts on that here. To the Devil a Daughter was a typical Hammer film… cheap and saucy, with bad dialogue and […]

  5. Edward Higgins said

    There is a very peculiar film called ‘Tales that Witness Madness’. I don’t think it’s Hammer, I think it was made at Shepperton studios, but was directed by Hammer Stalwart Freddie Francis.

    If you haven’t seen, it’s an anthology thing, which means, of course, that it has several interconnected parts, none of which make sense or satisfactorily tie-up. But it is the most wonderful and extraordinary film.

    The plot involves the head of a psychiatric institute (Donald Pleasance) leading another doctor around the wards, whilst telling the stories of four of his patients. The audience is first shown a dysfunctional couple, who seem to continually argue about their young son’s imaginary friend – which happens to be an invisible tiger. But, the big shock comes as we discover that the tiger isn’t actually imaginary at all….(Ah…)

    The second is the story is of an owner of an antique shop, who begins living a strange double life, courtesy of a penny-farthing bicycle, and a photograph of his Uncle Albert, that moves occasionally (in a sinister manner). Some other stuff happens and the shop burns down.

    The third instalment involves the young Joan Collins finding her marriage and her life under threat from a tree. Really!

    And lastly, the story of a publicist (Kim Novak – looking understandably confused thoughout) who arranges a dinner party for her client, but unwisely leaves the dinner preparations to the client’s mysterious, exotic, voodoo companion. With the end result that her daughter ends up on the menu.

    After sitting through all this, we find out at the end that all the stories are completely untrue. And that’s the end of the film. It’s just the stuff of a madman’s dreams.

    But it’s poor Joan Collins that gets the rough end of all this. She suffers a range of indignities in this film, from her wardrobe, to her ultimate fate – where despite all her womanly efforts, she actually loses her husband to the tree.

    It’s not even a very nice one.

    Good film though.

  6. Simon Hickson said

    i remember it. Not Hammer and not Amicus. But very like Amicus’ potmanteau horror films…
    Excellent stuff.

  7. Edward Higgins said

    Have an Amicus box set. It’s shaped like a coffin.

    It’s better than the Pete Walker boxset. (Also shaped like a coffin.)

    But if you like choppy 70’s lady flesh, Walker does some nice work.

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