Strange and Fantastic Tales of the 20th Century is a look back at the weirdest, most memorable, and most off center movies of the 20th century. From head turning horror to oddball science fiction, this column examines the films that will leave a lasting impression for centuries to come.
When a movie begins with a leotard attired sorceress whipping a naked woman while demanding she pledge allegiance to Satan, you know you’re in for something amazing. Set in Manila, Hollingsworth Morse’s, 1972 film Daughters of Satan delivers a story both confusing and wonderfully over the top. Daughters of Satan is this week’s strange and fantastic tale of the twentieth century.
Everyone’s favorite mustachioed hero Tom Selleck plays James Robertson, an art dealer who travels the globe in search of interesting and expensive art. He comes across a shop that specializes in occult curios and artifacts. He is met by Vic Diaz, (Charles Ching) a mischievous dealer with a Misfits style devillock and curvy sideburns.
Vic, who was present at the whipping from the opening sequence, sells a portrait of three witches and their dog to Robertson. The witches are depicted burning at the stake in the 1800’s. James is drawn to the painting because one of the witches looks like his nervous wife Chris (Barra Grant).
James and Chris seem to have the perfect life together. She hangs out in luxury while accompanying him to exotic locations. They also have a very sexy marriage. James and Chris are always on top of each other in some form or another and good for them! It’s hard to keep the magic going when the presence of the painting has inexplicably made Chris a wreck, James obsessed with its origin, and also summoned the hellhound named Nicodemus from the painting.
James can’t explain it, Chris can’t explain it, and neither can the writers, but that’s okay because really who needs it? The painting has magic that spreads through the town. Its spell has turned a secretary into the whipping witch, and an E.R nurse has come to work as a housekeeper in Chris’s home. These three women all resemble the women from the painting.
It is revealed they have been awakened, or reactivated, (maybe possessed?) to avenge their persecution. What happens next is nothing short of a parade of insanity. There is poisoning, stabbing, staged deaths, exploding cars, and casual naked conversations with acquaintances.
You will want to ask how and why, but it ultimately does not matter as magic is the cause and solution to all the problems. The film begins with witches torturing another human and it ends with three witches having a drink. Put on your leotard and watch Daughters of Satan. Your brain will thank you.
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