Daughters of Satan
directed by Hollingsworth Morse
(United Artists/MGM, 1972)

Daughters of Satan, based on a story by John Bushelman, is an intriguing look at witchcraft with a twist at the end. It is a weird movie that leaves you with a few unanswered questions. The level of suspense is extreme all the way through.

James Robertson (Tom Selleck) is a buyer for museums that is sent to the Philippines. When he goes to check out a tapestry at an antique store, he spots a painting of witches being burned that has a witch who is identical to his wife. The store owner explains that it was painted by a minor artist in the early 1600s and portrays the 1592 burning of witches in Manila. It is one of a series of six. Jim buys the painting and takes it home to hang in his living room, but his wife Christina (Barra Grant) hates it and he ends up hanging it in his study.

As soon as the painting is in the house, weird things start to happen. Chris hears voices calling her. Then, a strange dog shows up that looks exactly like the dog in the painting. Chris has never seen him before, yet she knows his name. Jim comes home and the dog attacks him. When he goes into his study, the dog in the painting has faded until he is barely discernable.

Next, a strange housekeeper, Juana Rios (Paraluman), shows up and informs Chris that she has a task to complete -- with a sacred dagger. Jim comes home and discovers that the housekeeper looks just like one of the witches, and the witch in the painting is fading. Then, a woman calls Jim to say that she has another painting from the series ... and the accuser is a perfect likeness of him. His curiosity is piqued and he begins to investigate the incident; meanwhile, his wife is drawn into the dark side of the matter.

Although I have never liked Selleck, I have to say that he did a fine job in this movie. He delivered his lines with credible emotion and body language. I felt Grant did a fine job of acting entranced -- but when she was acting "normal," her lines were flat and shallow, and she lacked supporting body language. She could have done a better job with the script.

Still, this is a good movie for the suspense and the twist ending. It is definitely worth looking for a copy at your video store.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 10 October 2003

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