An interesting but rather poorly written early British horror film. DD Home Entertainment UK R2 DVD. Released 15th Jan '07
Beaudine is the young resident of a remote Irish village, her
attractive appearance and flirty nature has made her the target for
hatred for all the village women and they have conspired to drive her
away. Meanwhile a travelling fair has come to town, and the boxer Dan
takes an immediate fancy to her - however when he tries to get intimate
with her, in a field, Emmy violently fights him off. In light of the
women's claims Bess' carer, the local vicar, sends her to live with a
farming family in North Yorkshire (England), where she soon arouses the
suspicions of the women and the passions of the men - until a
travelling fair arrives with a familiar, scarred face...
Written by Max Catto, and based on his play, They Walk Alone,
the script is heavily flawed. Mostly dialogue based, its theatrical
origins mean that the text is written to a high standard and the frequent talky scenes never
become dull. However, promoted as a horror film and a psychological thriller, Daughter of Darkness
does not work particularly well as either. Emmy is a curious character,
seemingly interesting in leading men on (although in the first two
cases, she seems to do so very passively), she has some sort of fear of
intimacy that leads her to kill - unfortunately, this is never
explained in the script, or even particularly explored, nor her random
church organ playing (in the
play, this is what gives her the incentive to kill) or even devout
religious attendance. The story has interesting themes - the impact of
a sexually active woman in a repressed community - but the murderess
element seems almost tacked on. Despite building up to a decent climax,
ending is distinctly poor and seems to have been written in an attempt
to give the audience a cheap shock (the only one of the film).
a large budget, the film does look very good, including some effective
set-pieces in a fun fair, and in a full-scale burning barn (no model
shots used here) and a strong orchestral soundtrack is provided. The
acting is good all round, with Siobhan McKenna very impressive
as Emmy, and future bond girl Honor Blackman as one of the Yorkshire
family's daughters (no explanation is given for the distinctly posh
tones of the rural Yorkshire family, but it should only bother the most
attentive of viewers). Although billed as a psychological thriller, Daughter of Darkness
really has no more pyschology than a 1980s slasher movie (indeed many of these at least gave their killer a motive), and in
keeping with its period, has a lot less action or horror. Not really
worthly of 'lost gem' status, it might prove interesting to fans of
early British horror, but does not come recommended.
Anyone famous in it?
No-one of note.
Directed by anyone interesting?
Lance Comfort - a lesser known British director who worked mostly during the 1950s.
None on screen, some mild hints.
Who is it for?
Of interest to fans of early British horror, but not generally recommended.
Original Aspect Ratio - 1.33:1 fullscreen. Black and white. Given
its age, the print looks good. There is some print damage, lots of
grain, and several scenes very bright with some flickering. Not as good
as a fully restored title, it is a million miles better than a public
domain disc, and always watchable.
English mono. Sounds fine, although there is a hum in the background throughout.
None on the the disc. The case includes a very detailed 24 page
booklet, with illustrations, that gives the background to the film and
details on its filming.
Region 2 (UK, Europe) - PAL
No other releases.
to be fully uncut. English language print.
Well directed, but suffering from a rather pale and quite predictable storyline, Daughter of Darkness does not come recommended.
A watchable print with an
interesting booklet. Given its obscurity and age, this film is unlikely
to ever receive the full special edition treatment, so this DVD is