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Daughters of Satan (Magnum P.I. fights Satan! 'Tache Factor 10!)

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Posted 20th April 2009 at 05:20 PM by Sam@Cult Labs

Daughters of Satan

You loved him as the Hawaiian shirt rocking P.I. in Magnum...

You shook with laughter when he played the hapless father figure in Three Men & a Little Lady...

Now recoil in horror when yet another famous Hollywood player reveals his seamy exploitation, B-movie horror past as Tom Selleck stars in the early 70s satanic conspiracy thriller, Daughters of Satan.

Don't panic Selleck fans, Tom was sporting his winning 'tache from the beginning and it's looking great - lustrous, thick and dominating - in this cheap knock off, one of several Lucifer filled romps that followed in the wake of Rosemary's Baby.

The film bears it's satanic soul from the opening scene in which a skull faced witch tortures a hapless minion by having her suspended by one arm over a nest of sharp spikes. Cut to Selleck, who's racing along the highway in a slick red sports car...hmmm...I've seen that image of him before.

Tom plays an art expert working in Manila who happens upon an unusual painting depicting the burning of a coven of three witches and their foul black dog. The middle witch looks just like his wife. "Gee", thinks Tom, "a really sick picture of a double of my wife is just the perfect gift for a women with a history of mental instability".

Soon she's hearing whispers in the night, Tom's being chased by a hell hound, a new housekeeper shows up who's a possessed coven member, the family shrink gets murdered when he finds out too much, Tom nearly buys the farm when his wife tries to poison him with coloured gas and all the while, the figures in the painting are fading in and out of view as the satanic happenings keep occurring.

I'd be inclined to throw the painting out and sack the cleaner but this is 70s grind-house fun so logic is a dirty word.

It turns out that Magnum P.I. is descended from the very officer of the law who burnt the witches all those hundreds of years ago and now their back to claim their revenge by possessing three women and a helpless pooch. The clamps are being tightened on Tom, can he escape the clutches of Satan's Manila branch or will he die because of the terrible machinations of fate???

Good lord this is a bad movie, a gloriously ill conceived film in which every player is robbed of their dignity. Tom Selleck is the only one I can recall seeing in anything else and the rest of the cast either overact like the coven leader or, in the case of Tom's wife, wander through the film like some bombed out hippy deadhead on three hits of Tequila Sunrise acid. Even when she's ordered to kill following a topless whipping at coven HQ, a place of cardboard walls and distracted looking extras, she can barely register any emotion.

This is bad movie awesomeness of the highest order; It makes little sense, particularly the scene near the end, when the three possessed witches snap out of their mental cages following the supposed death of Selleck, and two of them decide to go on holiday to Hong Kong despite having no knowledge of each other.

Another bizarre scene is an undertaker snapping pictures of a naked female corpse with an archaic, Victorian looking camera before singing the cadaver a dirty song...Surely this was shot at the request of the backers after principal photography wrapped, to add a little more exploitative kick as it's unnecessary to the already confused plot. The scenes pretty funny though and adds another layer of head scratching bewilderment to the already doomed production.

Pick this up and marvel at just how weird B-pictures could get in the early 70s. I really got a kick out of watching it as it has a good mix of sick, unsettling moments combined with all that kitsch nonsense that I'm such a big fan of. The score is a great mix of easy listening hooks and spooked out trippy synth noises. The whole thing feels like a particularly whacked out episode from an American 70s TV show, perhaps because the director, Hollingsworth Morse, worked mainly in Television.

Weird Film Fact: Seems this movie was written by a John S. Higgins. Higgins was the name of Toff who rented Magnum his shag pilled love pit...spooky!
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