The Devil’s Daughter exemplifies everything I love about the classic TV movie. We get big stars TVing it up, a slightly trashy plot that doesn’t require you to do any thinking, and one or two ridiculous surprises. It’s well made enough that you don’t want to shoot your TV, yet light enough for you to have plenty of “can you believe this shit” conversations with your friend while watching.
About 21 years and 40 weeks ago, Alice (Diane Ladd) had herself some of that good ol’ devil sex. It was so good, she sold him the soul of the resulting daughter! But now, Alice has done got religion and wants to renege. Of course, welching on a bet with Scratch gets you nothing but dead.
At the funeral, their daughter Diane (Belinda Montgomery), a fatally naive young woman, meets her mother’s “old friend” Lilith (Shelley Winters), goes over to Lilith’s mansion for lunch, and is persuaded to move in. Since we’re watching a satanic movie, obviously Lilith is also a devil worshipper, one so high up in the organization that she has a silent (and possibly good but employed against his will) Jonathan Frid driving her car! Although Diane eventually gets a clue, it’s probably too late for her. Of course it is; we wouldn’t be nearly as enamored with the picture if everyone lived happily ever after, would we?
The Devil’s Daughter is filled with gleefully evil fun as well as unintentional humor. Abe Vigoda is on hand as a satanic dance instructor. Lilith has two very unusual neighbors, a pair of sisters who dress alike and stare creepily, and who each own a cat: the white sister has a black cat, and the black sister has a white cat. These ladies may or may not also be a pair of shapeshifters who sometimes show up as male henchmen as well. And Shelley Winters is of course glorious in her standard role. At one point she angrily picks up the phone and begins giving orders without even dialing a number. I knew the devil owned the phone company!
While things may not work out so well for Diane, her loss is our gain. Really, the only possible complaint I have about the film, other than that it is only 72 minutes long, is that Diane has nightmares, but we don’t get any trippy dream sequences, instead having to be content with a verbal description. Other than that omission, The Devil’s Daughter is highly recommended. Just remember: if you’re gonna do the horizontal bop with the devil, use protection. And always listen to the warnings of a mute chauffeur, especially if he used to be Barnabas Collins.