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  Julie Darling Daddy Dearest
Year: 1983
Director: Paul Nicholas
Stars: Anthony Franciosa, Sybil Danning, Isabelle Mejias, Paul Hubbard, Cindy Girling, Reinhard Kolldehoff, Michael Tregor, Natascha Rybakowski, Elizabeth Paddon, Benjamin Gordan, Terrea Smith, Dwayne MacLean, Jack Jessop, Margareta Rance
Genre: Horror, Drama, Thriller, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Julie Wilding (Isabelle Mejias) is a teenage girl who lives with her father Harold (Anthony Franciosa) and thinks the world of him, the only trouble being that she lives with her mother Irene (Cindy Girling) as well. Julie really doesn't like her, from the way she orders the girl about to the way she shares her affections with her father, and is constantly plotting to make her mother's life difficult. For example, Harold gifted her a pet snake which she has no compunction about allowing out of its tank to roam around the house to be discovered by a terrified Irene; this amuses Julie no end, and her father treats her bad behaviour with a benevolent tolerance, but what if she could work out a method of getting him all to herself?

The same year he helmed trash favourite women in prison flick Chained Heat, director Paul Nicholas also gave the world Julie Darling, also known as Daughter of Death, his own variation on the evil child genre as kicked off in the nineteen-fifties with unintentionally camp thriller The Bad Seed. Camp was the word for many of them, as there was some humour to be gained from watching these little madams wreak havoc on the lives of their families and anyone else who got in their way, and Julie was no exception, with Mejias surprisingly good at conveying the perversity and manipulation of the malevolent kid. She had a sinister half-smile when things were going her way that was very entertaining.

At first, Julie plots to be rid of her mother, and as her oblivious father has trained her in the art of blowing away wildlife with a rifle or shotgun, we begin to think there's nothing that will stop the girl from doing the same to Irene. Yet in one of those twists that exemplified the narrative here, the older woman is visited by the delivery man one too many times, and he gets the wrong idea about her, believing she has a sexual motive for inviting him in for a coffee, and events grow dire as a result. The upshot is that Irene winds up dead at the hands of Weston the delivery maniac (Paul Hubbard) while Julie watches through the target of her firearm, having had ample opportunity to prevent the tragedy.

But you know, Julie wanted her mother off the scene and she gets her wish, so it seems perfectly reasonable for her, especially when it means she gets to snuggle in bed with Harold, under the impression he is comforting his daughter. However, she does not in actual fact have him all to herself, because he picks up a replacement for Irene in the shape of Susan, played by the not inconsiderable Sybil Danning - how can Julie compete with her? Answer: she schemes and schemes, initially trying to get rid of Susan's young son (by trapping him in a refrigerator during a game of hide and seek) and when that fails, she makes bigger plans. Meanwhile, she has spied on Harold and Susan making love and in an item of incredible bad taste envisages herself being the one having sex with her daddy, just to give you an idea of the level we were on.

Though there were elements of horror, this was more of a thriller, and one shot through with a serious streak of dubiousness thanks to Julie pulling everyone's strings for her own deplorable goals. It might not have admitted it, but the film presented Julie as the heroine, the one we wanted to see succeed, thanks to her being the smartest person in the story as she ran rings around the adults, yet when her ultimate aim was so unpleasant you can imagine you may be resistant to wishing to watch the brat get her way. That Weston re-enters the movie later on as a pawn for the girl to make sure Susan winds up dead at his hands (she tells him he can rape her all he wants before he murders her, yes, that genuinely is what Julie says) is merely the prelude for the last act sick developments, though if anything Harold's unseeing attitude to his offspring leaves Franciosa out of the picture for most of the second half, allowing Mejias (who loathed the entire movie!) to dominate. She had a fairly solid career for a couple of decades before she gave it up, but few would forget her if they ever caught this, obscure as it was. Music by Joachim Ludwig.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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