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DAUGHTERS OF SATAN (director: Hollingsworth Morse; screenwriters: story by John A. Bushelman/John C. Higgins; cinematographer: Nonong Rasca; editor: Tony DiMarco; music: Richard LaSalle; cast: Tom Selleck (James Robertson), Barra Grant (Chris Robertson), Tani Guthrie (Kitty Duarte), Paraluman (Juana Rios), Vic Silayan (Doctor Dangal), Vic Diaz (Carlos Ching); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Aubrey Schenck; United Artists; 1972-USA/Philippines)
The plodding and talky occult thriller is inert.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The plodding and talky occult thriller is inert. Veteran TV director Hollingsworth Morse (“Lassie: A Christmas Tail”/” Justin Morgan Had a Horse”) shows us why he’s a hack, as the film remains lifeless, senseless and humorless throughout. It’s based on a story by John A. Bushelman and is written by John C. Higgins.

The pic opens with the dominatrix leader of a coven of satanic witches torturing a woman to death for not behaving like a witch.

The next scene has hotshot NYCmuseum curator James Robertson (Tom Selleck, his first starring role) is in Manila, Philippines, and at the request of sleazy antique store dealer Carlos Ching (Vic Diaz) buys from him a tapestry for the NYC museum. While browsing his store, Jim discovers a 16th century painting depicting conquistadors burning three women and a dog at the stake in Manila and he buys it since one of the supposed witches looks like his wife Chris (Barra Grant). When Jim shows the painting he just bought for $90 to Chris, she can’t stand to look at it and knowingly tells him that it records the burning of the Duarte Coven in 1592. That night wifey can’t sleep, as she’s disturbed by the painting and hears her name called but in the morning convinces herself she only imagined hearing it (just like I thought I only imagined seeing this flick and tried convincing myself that I didn’t actually see it).

Warning: spoiler in the next paragraph.

That’s the set-up for a series of frightening incidents that threaten Chris’s life, as the hateful Rottweilerdog burned at the stake appears at the park where she takes a stroll and she automatically calls the dog Nicodemas and then looks at its collar and spots the number 666 and the name she correctly called the demonic dog. Then the two other women burned at the stake with her appear and later the dominatrix leader of a coven who was in the opening shot appears, as Chris takes the personality of the witch burned at the stake and has to deal with the possibility that she’s reliving the nightmare scene of the painting. The film’s gimmick has images from the painting disappear only to reappear in real life. This all happens because the bland hunky hubby hangs the pic on his home office wall and is so dense that he can’t understand the painting is the cause of all his recent problems. Someone that stupid probably deserves a knife in his back from his wife (which is what he gets in the end)

This cheesy hokum film might only suit Selleck fans who want to be completists or those who get their kicks from bad films that are so fatuous they can be enjoyed because they are so bad. As for me, I just call this one a junk-house second-rate thriller that has no redeeming value except for some attractive location shots of the Manila scenery.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”