Screenwriters Edward Hume and Lewis John Carlino both had some really incredible careers. Hume wrote the pilot episodes for Cannon, The Streets of San Francisco and Barnaby Jones, as well as The Day After while Carlino wrote Seconds, The Mechanic, Crazy Joe and Where Have All the People Gone? amongst other movies. Here, they adapt the Stanton Forbes novel Go To Thy Deathbed for director William A. Fraker, who usually worked as a cinematographer on movies like Games, Exorcist II: The Heretic and Looking for Mr. Goodbar. He wouldn’t direct another movie after this until The Legend of the Lone Ranger.
Inside a mansion lives the fifteen-year-old Marguerite (Sondra Locke), her mother Katherine (Mary Ure) and her grandmother Julia (Signe Hasso). Our heroine takes daily injections of something with no label, all while discussing her paranoia with her dolls, collecting amoebas and painting disturbing images. Now, her father Michael (Robert Shaw) wants to reconnect with her after nearly ten years, as he’s about to divorce her mother to marry Anne (Sally Kellerman).
Soon, her mother and grandmother are dead at the hands of one of her dolls, Aaron, and Anne is growing concerned by just how physical the relationship between father and daughter becomes. Even when they attempt to make love, the camera finds Marguerite joining in from another room, alone, in synch with her father.
There’s no way that this is going to end well for anyone, obviously, but the twist at the end? Oh yes, no one will see that coming. Also, Locke is 27 playing 15, a woman trapped in a child’s body, so perhaps the twist is one you will imagine.
This movie stayed hidden for some time, as actual filming completed in the early part of 1971, but its premiere was not until late 1972 and it wasn’t released until the winter of 1973. I wonder just how much the film’s subject matter had to do with that.