Daughters of Satan

Satan vs. Selleck
★
☆☆☆
Released: 
1972
Director: 
Hollingswoth Morse
Starring: 
Tom Selleck, Barra Grant, Tani Guthrie, Paraluman
The Setup: 
Man buys painting that possesses his wife and stuff.
Discussion: 

The bad thing about Netflix is that its library of discs is aging badly, and numerous discs have been scratched so badly they don't play, or in fact broken, as was the case with Seven Women for Satan (Not three! Not five!), which I was going to watch before its failure sent me to Netflix streaming, where I was able to find this to supply my Satanic action. This won my interest by starring Tom Selleck in an early role, mustache in place, and looking cheesy and very 70s. The nice thing about Netflix streaming is that you can scan through a movie upfront to ensure that it contains enough footage of Selleck without a shirt to make watching worthwhile. This one passed the test.

By the way, have you seen Selleck Waterfall Sandwich? At last the promise of the Internet is being realized.

We open at a Satanic ritual in which a woman is hung over a bed of spikes and whipped until she pledges her devotion to Satan. Then: SELLECK! He pulls through this tropical town (this takes place in Manila) in a hot red convertible to the tune of this amazing, overbearing 70s music that will continue to distract and delight through the entire movie. He enters this tourist trinket shop called "Mysteries of the Orient," where, we are led to believe, priceless art can be had on the cheap. It would seem that he is an art buyer for American museums, hunting for lost treasures, which might later lead to to ask: In MANILA? Is that really a hotbed of lost artistic treasures? Such that an American buyer would need to set up a household there? Well, I guess it is. We'll also have much cause to note that Selleck had rotten taste in art. His name is Jim, by the way.

The proprietor shows him a woven pillowcase he claims is from the 16th century, although it was obviously, OBVIOUSLY swiped from the remainder bin at a dollar store that morning. Then his attention turns to this HIDEOUS yellow-palate painting, the type of thing you see painted on black velvet, which shows three witches being burned at the stake in front of a colonial church. The one in the center looks EXACTLY like his wife! In fact, one can clearly see how the actress' face was pasted on with glue stick, as the numerous close-ups show a clear line around the pasted-on image, which has a smooth texture while everything around it has a rough canvas texture. This, we are told, is from the 17th century. Naturally, he buys it, thinking his wife might find it such a pip to be depicted as a burning witch in a long-ago inquisition.

She does not. She hates it. She is Chris, lovely wife who stays at home all day doing nothing, and she takes an immediate and serious dislike to the painting. So does Jim take it away or throw it out? Nope. He makes a comment that it's like from some past life, causing Chris to reply: "Let's not get into reincarnation, Jim. Today is trouble enough!" Oh, sage wisdom. Next day, while Jim is out, this big Rottweiler shows up to befriend Chris, although it hates Jim from the start. Then--guess what? The dog in the painting (there was a dog being burned with the witches) has vanished! That is just plain WEIRD.

By this time one has noticed that poor Selleck really cannot act, just blurting out his lines as best he can. The dog is named Nicodemus and his collar lists him as coming from 666 Calle Revolucion. Subtle, right? Next this housekeeper Juana shows up, saying she's responding to their ad, although Chris remembers no ad, but assumes Jim must have placed it. Chris decides no, she doesn't want a housekeeper, and Juana responds "You have no choice. You must do as your destiny tells you." I guess that's one way to land a job. Maybe I should try that next time. When Jim shows up, the dog attacks him, and Juana screeches "What evil thing have you done to make dogs hate you?" She's a charmer. And guess what? She just happens to look EXACTLY like one of the other witches in the painting!

By now you are trying to drown out the overbearing score while still pondering "What IS Jim doing in Manila, anyway?" as he goes to the address on the dog's collar, to find that it's a casket shop. As he's leaving we see they're making a casket with HIS name on it! This is getting spooky. Then he goes back to the Mysteries of the Orient shop, also numbered 666, by the way, only to find the proprietor killed with this carved ceremonial knife that will make a number of appearances from now on. He is attacked, and runs outside, jumping onto the hood of a passing truck. The truck driver just continues on his way--people jumping on his hood is such an everyday fact of life in Manila--as Jim gets on the back and kicks obviously-empty boxes down at his assailant. Truck drivers SO don't mind if you destroy their inventory, either. They're really quite a mellow bunch. After a box knocks the pursuer down, Jim jumps off the truck a few feet away. Oh yeah, now you're SAFE! But other guys attack him, leading him to perform a flying leap over the back of a horse pulling a carriage. Selleck equals ACTION!

Jim goes to the police, and while he's there a lovely white woman comes in, desperate, saying that others are forcing evil thoughts into her mind. I wonder if that's a matter best suited to the police, but she seems to think it is. She looks like--you'll never believe this--the third witch in the painting.

By now and til the end of the movie, you'll be asking yourself, over and over: "Why don't they just GET RID of the painting?" Well, that is obviously out of the question, because, you know, it just IS. Okay? That night Juana shows up in the middle of the night with a little something for Chris to slip into Jim's drink, which causes massive amounts of colored smoke to fill the room. She gets out, and Jim wakes up, coughing, searching everywhere, while you're thinking "Why doesn't he just LEAVE THE ROOM?" We receive confirmation a moment later that the door is indeed unlocked. He could just waltz out of there. But no, he sees it as more effective to throw a chair through the window.

The policeman stops by the next day, when Jim still isn't sure if anything weird is happening or not! Maybe this is all just like, totally normal. When Jim leaves the room the painting becomes alive and he watches the witches perish in the flames, with smoke actually coming into the room. By now we've noticed that when the women are possessed, the figures vanish from the painting, as if their spirits live in the painting and come out to possess the women (why don't they just burn the painting, etc). The policeman is on the way home when he spots three women cavorting in the road, who quickly lead him to his doom.

Then Jim stops by the home of the third woman, the one he met at the police office, and she is a big goofy-looking woman with giant teeth who tells Jim that he won't get her into bed, then starts crazily seducing him when he says he doesn't want to. She has a painting similar to his, which shows a different angle on the same scene. In it we see a guy who looks like--the policeman? No, we are told, it looks exactly like Jim, even though it doesn't, and we learn that Jim's grandfather is the one who burned the witches in the first place, way back in the day. So this whole thing may be about killing his descendants. Oh, I see. It all makes sense now.

Now as surely you know from movies like this, Jim will finally decide he's had enough and it's time to move out JUST as the witches' final plan is put in place. He's also going to fire Juana! That's IT! He's HAD IT! But he will accept that drugged martini and, oh, he feels so tired... Next thing you know, the women park him on a high cliff with chunks of ice under is wheels. When the ice melts, Jim's car goes off, which I thought was a nice touch. The women repair to the local bar for drinks, waiting til midnight, which is when Jim will buy the farm. At midnight--poof!--the spell is broken and the women all become themselves, wondering where they are and who are these strange ladies they're sitting with?

Chris goes home and looks around for Jim, looking everywhere, in every room, in a sequence that does go on. And on. Then--he shows! He's alive! The curse is broken, and everything is going to be fine! Oh, except that the middle witch vanishes from the painting again, and Chris stabs Jim in the back with the ceremonial knife. You'll notice that Jim doesn't react at all as the knife slips into him. He just can't fight anymore. Then--the end!

It blew, but it was kind of fun enough to keep me watching right to the end. It's kind of silly satanic fun, and is so poorly made and acted that it's all rather amusing. And there's enough spookiness and people dying every few minutes to keep you interested. This is for lovers of bad movies only, as there really is nothing at all good about it, and the only amusement it can offer is in how very cheesy it is.

Should you watch it: 

Probably not.