(Peter Sykes, 1976) Many Hammer fans prefer the studio’s earlier films and cold-shoulder later ones produced as it struggled to keep in step with the times. But some of us appreciate this final entry into the original* Hammer pantheon. To the Devil a Daughter has naturalistic acting, a bit of edge, and the need for audience deconstruction — all unexpected positives. But it can’t match Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist and other popular occult films Sykes was emulating, tasked as he was with making Hammer Studios a guaranteed pound sterling. Dependable Christopher Lee is an excommunicated priest who points his faith in a more sinister direction, towards a satanic god. His church raises Nastassja Kinski, who grows up to become a nun marked to bear the seed of the devil. High-jinx ensue when the nun’s father (Denholm Elliott) and an occult writer (Richard Widmark) try to protect her from that destiny. Enjoy some nicely claustrophobic framing shot from very low and very high angles, and a disturbing birth scene wherein a mother’s legs are bound together, sealing off the birth canal. Women will squirm, and some viewers will get a chuckle out of the clerical costumes the Satanists sport, identical to Catholic uniforms. — Ranylt Richildis
* I added the word original, because Hammer Studios climbed out of its coffin in 2008.