TO THE DEVIL ...A DAUGHTER
Hammer Film Productions Limited. All Rights Reserved
IN LIGHT ALL THINGS THRIVE
AND BEAR FRUIT...
IN DARKNESS THEY DECAY AND DIE
THAT IS WHY WE MUST FOLLOW THE TEACHINGS
OF THE LORDS OF LIGHT
Screenplay by CHRIS WICKING
adaption by JOHN PEACOCK
from the novel by DENNIS WHEATLEY
produced by ROY
directed by PETER SYKES
|MIKE LE MARE GBFE
music coposed by
musical supervisor PHILIP MARTELL
||George de Grass
||Eveline de Grass
||Black Room Attendant
||Salvation Army Major
a co-production by
HAMMER FILM PRODUCTIONS LTD. LONDON
TERRA FILMKUNST GMBH BERLIN
EMI Elstree Studios, Hertfrdshire, England
and on location in
The Federal Republic of Germany
REVIEW: Based, apparantly somewhat
loosely on the Dennis Wheatley novel (I have a copy of the novel,
but haven't read it yet), To the Devil... is Hammer's
last horror film, and I feel, a long awaited return to form.
Occult novelist John Verney is approached by a paranoid Henry
Beddows at a book signing in London, to look after his seventeen
year old birthday. It is soon apparant that she is heavily
involved in a bizarre 'satanic' church, headed by Father Michael
in Bavaria, where she has spent her life as a nun in The Church
of Our Lord. Following a hideous nightmare Catherine reveals that
her Lord is Asteroth, a demon. John Verney then faces a very real
battle with the dark forces to prevent Father Michael from
rebaptising Catherine on her 18th birthday on 31st October (All
Hallows Eve), and making her Asteroth incarnate...
successful adaptation of The Devil Rides Out, Hammer had
planned in 1973, to produce an anthology of Wheatley novels for
tv in a series entitled The Devil and All His Works. Christopher
Lee's company, Charlemagne, owned the film rights to the novel,
and gave Hammer the go-ahead in 1974, after the motion to make
the film followed a preview of The Exorcist. There were
many scripting problems, and in the final film this still shows,
as all too often we are left slightly bewildered of events.
Dennis Wheatley was also unhappy about the script, regarding it
as "a hopeless mess, the ending of which could not possibly
be more unsatisfactory" and an "appaling travesty".
Wheras he had been more than happy with The Devil Rides Out, it
seems, that To the Devil... had no real resemblance to the book.
Dennis conveyed his annoyance to Hammer in a letter dated 30th
Further, casting the film had also proved difficult. Anthony
Perkins was just one of the names who proved beyond Hammer's
reach. Richard Widmark is truly excellent as John Verney, with a
suprising aloofness, though the actor found the shoot a disaster
and threatened to leave the production on several occasions.
Company director, Michael Carreras was busy trying to gain
finances for Vampirella, Hammer's next planned film, causing yet
more tension for the crew.
Natassia Kinski, daughter of horror film veteran Klaus Kinski,
was a mere fifteen years old, yet gives a frightening performance
as the young Catherine, even stripping down for a full frontal at
the film's climax, despite being under age!.
Christopher Lee meanwhile gives perhaps his finest Hammer horror
performance. Sinister, evil, chilling, and percise, performed
with great relish.
The supporting cast are all good with guest appearances from ex-Bond/Avengers
girl Honor Blackman, and a cameo from Frances de la Tour (of
The humour and seriousness of the piece are weel reached, though
the conclusion, is as Dennis Wheatley stated, less than
satisfactory. More material was filmed than is in the final print.
In the final print, Lee just disappears, but originally shot, Lee
regains conciousness and goes for Verney with a knife, forgetting
the rules of the circle, and as he reaches the edge, the gods
intervine, and there is a lightening flash and Lee is thrown to
the ground in a crucified position. Then the shooting script
called for a succession of metamorphoses to different creatures
for Father Michael, before finally dying.
The film did fairly
well on its initial release, premiered on 19th February 1976, and
on general release on 4th March. The film was an expensive
venture at £360,000, some £70,000 less than the initial
projecture. Dennis Wheatley was however, distraught at the
treatment his novel had received. Lee was too, upset by the turn
of events, for the result was not his intention when his company
gave Hammer the rights to the picture. Wheatley vowed that Hammer
would never be allowed to film another one of his books. Thus
plans to film The Satanist, with Christopher Lee and Britt Ekland
never saw fruition. Wheatley died in 1977. Also of note, the
location used for the climax, the dashwood estate, is part of the
land belonging to Lady Francis Dashwood (Maria Landi, the actress
who played Cecile in The Hound of the Baskervilles).
It is fitting that
Hammer's last horror should star perhaps its most famous foe,
Christopher Lee, and the performance is one of his best. The film
is wondrously sick and macabre, with Les Bowie's terrible demon
child and plenty of blood. The film is worth watching simply for
the concluding scenes as Lee and Widmark confront each other in
the circle, with glorious surreal colours.
To the Devil...
original duration : 93 mins, colour
original cert: X
today's cert: 18
filmed at EMI Elstree and German republic, September 1st to
October 24th 1975
film has been released in the UK : Warner Terror Vision
S038175, in 1995, 88 min, rated 18, fullscreen, and reportedly
There is also another European version, which is in widescreen.
And also it has been released in the US : Continental Video, Cat. # 1002,
in 1984, 93 min NTSC. Clearly the British release is cut. However
the US tape is in fullscreen as well, though in great quality.
The US version, also contains a longer version of Kinski walking
past the camera apparently.
page posted Monday 1st
all original text, and layout of the page © RJE
mail me with corrections, comments etc to
reformatted and reposted 23 August 2006