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The Devil's Daughter (1973) - - StinkyLulu's Screening Log — LiveJournal

May. 19th, 2008 10:11 pm The Devil's Daughter (1973) -

A made-for-television romp in the satanic inseminator genre, adorned with a handful of "serious" actors (Shelley Winters, Joseph Cotton, an as-yet-unknown Diane Ladd) as well as some reliable tv hams (Abe Vigoda, Lucille Benson, Jonathan Frid).  Featuring an apparently dazed and confused Belinda Montgomery in the central titular role, the whole fandango feels like Charlie's Angels Meets Rosemary's Baby.  I do love the giddy sloppiness of the genre (low-rent tv-movies riffing on contemporary trends).  It's a mode of storytelling nearly lost in this era of niche-broadcasting and direct-to-dvd features.  It's a self-consciously trashy -- yet sincere -- yet utterly mercenary -- undertaking for all the creative team (who seem to be having a grand fun within the cinematic conventions of high art horror).  The most memorable moments include:  The Poole Sisters, a robotic team of "sisters" -- one black, one white -- always in matching outfits; the crazed Mexican spirit dance that Belinda succumbs to at the first party; the scene in which Belinda wills a child to drop his ball and go play in traffic; the utterly unsurprising over-the-top finale.  Supporting Actress nominees/winners abound.  Diane Ladd (credited here as Lad) acts her balls off in the first scene, while Shelley Winters phones in something resembling a performance, punching up the histrionics from time to time as if to remind everyone that she is acting.  As a seemingly kind judge, Joseph Cotten seems drunk.  The film treads the camp threshold with impressive delicacy, at once allowing the parodic humor while reining it back just enough to maintain whatever seriousness and/or plausibility the narrative can accomplish.  Some excellent visual images with some evocative characters -- I love the aforementioned Poole sisters as well as the oddly empathetic mute manservant Mr. Howard.  Perhaps what is most impressive about the film is how much fun everyone had in making the picture exactly what the made-for-tv genre needed it to be -- no more, no less.  An amusing diversion with some hilarious bits and bobs for those so inclined -- you know who you are.

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