The Philippines, especially during the late 1960s and early 1970s, had been a perfect backdrop and shooting locating for exploitation filmmakers, and it didn’t hurt that the land proved to be cost efficient. Whether it be to represent a monster-filled island, the locale of a secluded women’s prison, or just to have its busy city streets serve as a cinematic bed of crime, the Philippines always proved distinguishable, and the familiar home-grown character actors brought into the various productions only added to the audience’s association with these films. Shot and released in 1972, at the height of the Pilipino exploitation craze, DAUGHTERS OF SATAN makes its U.S. DVD debut as part of the MGM Limited Edition Collection (and yes, Vic Diaz is present and accounted for).
James (Tom Selleck) and Chris Robertson (Barra Grant) are a nice, young and attractive American couple living the high life in Manila (enormous secluded house, fancy convertible, etc.). James is an art dealer who, while in a local art gallery, uncovers a Spanish painting dating back to 1592, depicting three witches being burnt at the stake. One of the witches in the painting has an uncanny resemblance to wife Chris, causing him to purchase it (for a measly $75) and hang it up in their cozy abode. Chris is naturally disturbed by the centuries-old masterpiece, especially when odd occurrences are frequent in the wake of its arrival. Mysterious voices call Chris, a pesky Rottweiler and new housekeeper (Paraluman, THE LOSERS) show up uninvited at her doorstep (only to have their likenesses mysteriously vanish from the painting), the numerals “666” show up in several circumstances, etc. Is Chris just going batty, or are satanic forces actually infiltrating the once peaceful Robertson home? It’s up to the brave James to solve the mystery, and better yet, save his marriage.
Helmed by veteran TV director Hollingsworth Morse (among his work are fond memories of the “Shazam” and “Isis” live action Saturday morning shows of the mid 1970s), DAUGHTERS OF SATAN was produced by Aubrey Schenck, whose long career included executive producing the black & white Bel-Air horror films of the 1950s (THE BLACK SLEEP, VOODOO ISLAND, PHARAOH’S CURSE). DAUGHTERS OF SATAN is far from a 1950s monster movie though, and definitely an early 1970s R-rated drive-in horror affair (with an abundance of bare breasts throughout). The film starts off promising with a light S&M sequence where a secret coven of witches whip a tied-up, nude Filipino woman over a bed of spikes. What follows is a mildly entertaining B flick, with more than a usual amount of confusion setting in.
There’s a few interesting bits, including the ancient painting (which does look suitably unsettling) coming to horrifying life as a period flashback in front of the eyes of a concerned doctor (Vic Silayan, NIGHT OF THE COBRA WOMAN), coaxing him to dissolve the demonic vision with a handy ceramic stature of the Virgin Mary. Tom Selleck (and his trademark mustache) appears in his first starring role (he just had bit parts in Fox’s MYRA BRECKINRIDGE and THE SEVEN MINUTES, directed by Russ Meyer) and of course a prosperous television and movie career soon followed (when his character is being chased through the streets of Manila by some thugs, it almost looks like it could be from a lost “Magnum P.I.” pilot). Pretty Barra Grant is a rather dull leading lady, and you only really start to pay attention to her when her top comes off and you can figure out why James married her in the first place. She’s totally overshadowed by Tani Guthrie (THE THIRSTY DEAD) as the bewitching Kitty, a feisty milf-ish coven leader who’s handy with a whip and teases the much younger James by taunting him and laying out half naked on her bed. As mentioned, Vic Diaz (sort of the Michael Ripper of the Phillipines) appears as an art store dealer, sporting a ridiculous goatee and an even more ridiculous pointed comb-job in an attempt to make our fat friend look sinister. There’s a fairly good score by Richard LaSalle, who might be more familiar to sci-fi TV fans as composer for “Land of the Giants” and “Planet of the Apes”.
MGM has released DAUGHERS OF SATAN as part of its Limited Edition Collection of manufactured-on-demand DVDs, and although it makes no mention of this on the packaging, their press information touts it as a “Midnite Movies” release. The transfer comes off as another winner for this series, presenting the film in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. Colors are bold, skin tones look natural, and blacks are deep. Even a handful of “day for night” scenes are not too distracting, and there’s hardly any blemishes to be found, only a few fleeting cue marks. The mono audio also sounds fine, with no noticeable problems. When United Artists originally released DAUGHTERS OF SATAN theatrically, it was on a double bill with SUPERBEAST, another hard to find Philippines movie which will hopefully make it to MGM’s Limited Edition Collection one of these days.
Where can you purchase these MGM Limited Edition Collection releases? So far they can be found for purchase online at Deep Discount DVD, Oldies.com, Movies Unlimited, Amazon.com and Screen Archives Entertainment. (George R. Reis)
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