EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally on the site on December 5, 2018.
Originally airing on May 22, 1977, this attempt at a weekly series comes from director Paul Wendkos (The Mephisto Waltz, Secrets, Haunts of the Very Rich) and Hammer veteran Jimmy Sangster (The Legacy; Scream, Pretty Peggy; Horror of Dracula; The Revenge of Frankenstein).
I was really excited about the potential of this one, which promises from its Amazon listing that writer Andy Stuart (Dack Rambo) teams up with an exorcist named Father Kemschler (Dan O’Herlihy!) to battle Satan and a group of devil worshipers led by Mr. Rimmin (Richard Lynch!).
Seems like Rimmin has been after a girl named Jessica from the moment she was born, as her mother was drugged and attended to by nuns who took her baby away the moment it was born. Her mom was then killed by a black cat and Jessica is raised by his people, with her origins kept a secret.
When Andy and Jessica hook up and decide to get married, she’s unable to even get near the altar. That’s because she’s been promised to the demon Astaroth and must be kept a virgin until the beast comes back and puts a devil baby in her womb. Now, the cult that has been behind every moment of her life must keep her a virgin by cockblocking Andy at every turn.
I was totally prepared for pure 1970’s Satanic bliss, only to find myself in the midst of a relationship drama for much of the films first half. Sure, there was a flashback where a woman imagined a nearly nude and totally burned up Lynch — he came by those scars the hard way — attacking her. I was thinking — is this the TV movie version of Enter the Devil — only for cruel reality to make me learn differently.
That said, there are some good moments here, like a woman being killed by her own housecats under Rimmin’s command. And Elyssa Davalos as Jessica has plenty of great qualities that make her a wonderful horror heroine in distress. And while she’s top billed when you look this film up, Kim Cattrall makes a short appearance.
I wanted to love this. It has all the elements that you would think would lead to magic. Yet it can’t put them all together. Sometimes when you deal with the devil, you don’t get what you wanted.