Following the success of The Devil Rides Out, it was no surprise when Hammer Films returned to that old black magic theme with To the Devil a Daughter. Although the movie was made in the aftermath of the phenomenal success of The Exorcist and shares the latter’s theme of possession, sadly it couldn’t revive the fortunes of Hammer – this was the studio’s final horror movie. At least they bowed out in an appropriate manner, filling the screen with the gallons of the blood that had become its trademark.
Notable for featuring the English-language debut of Nastassja Kinski, the film is concerned with that archetypal Hammer theme: good versus Satanism. Improving on Wheatley’s starchy 1953 novel, the gothic mood is established early on when the agitated Henry Beddows (Denholm Elliott) visits an American novelist, John Verney (Richard Widmark), who specialises in books on the occult.
Beddows asks the writer to look after his teenage daughter, Catherine (Kinski), claiming she is in danger from a group of Satanists. Despite some doubts, Verney agrees and asks his agent (Honor Blackman) and her boyfriend (Anthony Valentine) to assist him.
Catherine arrives in London from her Bavarian convent school, but she’s not the only person to have made the journey. Father Michael Rayner (Christopher Lee) – who was excommunicated from the church for his blasphemous worship of Lord Astaroth (aka Satan) 20 years earlier – is accompanied by two fellow Satanists (Michael Goodlife, Eva Maria Meineke), intent on finding Catherine and using her as a hellish sacrifice to allow the Devil to walk the Earth.
Cast: Richard Widmark, Christopher Lee, Honor Blackman, Denholm Elliott, Michael Goodliffe, Nastassja Kinski
Director: Peter Sykes
Writers: Chris Wickings, John Peacock, based on the novel by Dennis Wheatley
Producer: Roy Skeggs
Composer: Paul Glass
Director of Photography: David Watkin
Production Companies: Hammer Film Productions, Terra-Filmkunst
Release Date: 4 March 1976
Running Time: 95 min
Country: Germany, United Kingdom
Tagline: …and suddenly the screams of a baby born in Hell!