By Richard Winters
My Rating: 6 out of 10
4-Word Review: He sacrifices his daughter.
Father Michael (Christopher Lee) is an ex-communicated priest who runs an offshoot religion called Children of the Lord that seems connected to the Catholic Church on the outside, but underneath the façade it is actually a cover for a group of Satanists. Henry (Denholm Elliot) is the father who signs over his daughter Cathrine’s (Nastassja Kinski) soul at her birth which stipulates that on her 18th birthday she will become the devil’s representative here on earth. Yet as that date approaches Henry begins to have second thoughts and hires occult novelist John Verney (Richard Widmark) to steal Catherine away from her captors and take her away to his place to hide, but Father Michael uses the power of black magic to hypnotize Catherine and force her to return to him while John tries everything in his power to stop it.
One commenter on the IMDB message boards claims this is ‘one of the worst movie to come out in the 70’s’, which only proves that he must not have seen a lot of ‘70’s movies as there is far worse stuff from that decade than this. Although it is certainly no classic it’s still not bad on the technical end and even rather slick. I enjoyed the on-location shooting done in Europe particularly the scene showing a drawbridge that could be lowered and raised manually by one person. The gore and scares are skimpy, but the scene where Kinski dreams of having the devil fetus crawl up her body and she then proceeds to stuff it into her vagina is certainly worth a few points.
Kinski’s presence is the best thing about the movie and the film became notorious in its day for showing her in full frontal nudity even though she was only 14 at the time. However, what surprised me even more was how confident she looked when she did it without any of the expected nervousness or shyness. I felt that because she was the daughter of actor Klaus Kinski and had to learn to group up fast she had a higher level of maturity than most other teens her age and therefore the scene wasn’t as awkward for her as it might otherwise have been.
Lee’s great as always as the bad guy and I particularly enjoyed his facial expressions. However, Widmark was miscast as he was too old and I didn’t understand why being only a friend of the family he would take such an invested interest in their daughter and such personal risks to get her out of the cult, which I felt would’ve been better suited to the role of the father and cutting out the Gurney character altogether.
This was the last horror film to be produced by Hammer and for the most part it plays like a cheesy rip-off of The Exorcist, but still has enough of a budget and a capable enough cast to keep it mildly enjoyable.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Released: March 4, 1976
Runtime: 1Hour 28Minutes
Director: Peter Sykes
Studio: Hammer Films
Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video