Daddy's Deadly Darling

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"A mad man... A psycho killer... And mean cannibal pigs... All together in the scariest film you'll ever see!!!"
  • R
  • 1972
  • 1 hr 20 min
  • 4.8  (1,418)

Daddy's Deadly Darling is a 1973 horror film directed by Marc Lawrence. The storyline is centered around a disturbed young woman named Lynn who has an unhealthy attachment to her pet snake. Set in a rural Georgia community, Lynn lives with her father who exercises a tight control over her life. Lynn's father is also a serial killer, and he uses his daughter's charms to attract victims, which he kills and feeds to the snake.

Toni Lawrence, an actress with very few credits to her name, plays Lynn, the mentally unstable protagonist of the film. Jesse Vint portrays the role of David, a young man who comes to the town to work on a plantation. Catherine Ross plays Carol, the plantation owner's daughter, whom David takes a romantic interest in.

The movie is an exploitation movie of sorts, graphically featuring nudity and gore, and it aims to shock as much as it does to entertain. The opening of the movie has a straightforward "cold open" by showcasing Lynn's father hugging her before stealthily stabbing a woman to her death in the background.

The deaths in the movie are gory and unpleasant, with characters being mauled by the snake or stabbed/cut to death. However, what makes Daddy's Deadly Darling distinct from other horror movies of its time is its perverse undertones. The movie revels in the sadomasochistic dynamic between Lynn and her father. Lynn is presented as an object of desire, and while the movie makes her father out to be the villain, it also casts a sexually uneasy lens over the proceedings.

Toni Lawrence's portrayal of Lynn is disturbing yet captivating. The actress plays the role with dedication and nuance, never romanticizing the character's twisted psychology. She spends the majority of the movie playing a mute character. Her considerable acting ability is displayed through her expressions and body language, and the portrayal is commendable.

Jesse Vint's David is the protagonist that plays counterbalance to Lynn's character arc. David is a decent human being, and his appearance in the movie brings a representation of the world that's different from the toxic and abusive world Lynn comes from. He tries to rescue her from her abusive dad's grasp in the movie's second half.

The movie's cinematography is composed of excellent low-key lighting that adds to the suspense and tension. The tension is maintained in the direction and blocking, as well as by long, gripping sequences that offer a thickening atmosphere of dread. The film's music is almost non-existent, serving up creepy, rumbling sounds as Lynn's snake slithers around or as her father broods in the background.

The film's title is peculiar, as it goes by the name of the daddy complex identified in psychoanalytic theory. Lynn is a victim of horrific sexual abuse and psychological imbalance stemming from her twisted father's trauma. Yet, the movie goes the exploitation route to showcase "deadly" and "darling" as punctuations that signify what happens to her in the film.

Daddy's Deadly Darling is not exactly an excellent film but is one that's hard to forget. It's a film that goes for shock value rather than offering a subtext of thought-provoking content. The sexualization and objectification of the protagonist are jarring to modern audiences' tastes and probably were even taboo back in its time.

Overall, Daddy's Deadly Darling is an oddity from the early '70s that's somewhat forgotten but remains a curious slice of horror cinema. The film elevates the abject horror of the subject matter from its exploitative offense with high-quality technical skills, and its performances, particularly from Toni Lawrence, make it unnerving yet memorable.

Daddy's Deadly Darling is a 1972 horror movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 20 minutes. It has received mostly poor reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 4.8.

Daddy's Deadly Darling
Where to Watch Daddy's Deadly Darling
Daddy's Deadly Darling is available to watch free on Plex. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon. Some platforms allow you to rent Daddy's Deadly Darling for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 20 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    4.8  (1,418)