Stuart Gordon Spotlight: “Daughter of Darkness”

Daughter of Darkness
daughterdarkness1

Welcome back to the final day of my two week spotlight of the works of Stuart Gordon here at the Misan[trope]y Movie Blog! I’ll be wrapping things up with one of Gordon’s least recognized works, 1990’s “Daughter of Darkness.”

“Daughter of Darkness” was written by Andrew Laskos, who was a frequent writer of television series and movies in the 1980s and 1990s. His credits include a handful of episodes of “Remington Steele,” “St. Elsewhere,” and “Hotel.”

The cinematography on “Daughter of Darkness” was done by Iván Márk, a man from Budapest who never much broke out of domestic Hungarian films. Still, he accrued nearly 50 cinematography credits by 1990, after which time he has primarily acted as a producer on short films.

Providing the music on “Daughter of Darkness” is Colin Towns, who did extensive work on television music, but also returned to work with Stuart Gordon again for “Space Truckers” in 1996.

Two of the effects crew on “Daughter of Darkness” have gone on to have long careers in film. Craig Reardon has done make-up work on films and television series such as “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “Volcano,” “Wild Wild West,” “We Were Soldiers,” and “Oz: The Great and Powerful” in the years since “Daughter of Darkness,” and  Gyula Krasnyanszky has done pyrotechnics work on miscellaneous films like “47 Ronin,” “World War Z,” “Season of the Witch,” “A Kid in King Arthur’s Court,” and the 2011 remake of “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.”

The cast of “Daughter of Darkness” is highlighted by the presence of Anthony Perkins, who famously played Norman Bates in “Psycho.” “Daughter of Darkness” would be one of his last film performances, as he died just two years later in 1992. The rest of the cast of “Daughter of Darkness” includes Jack Coleman, who has worked extensively on television (“Heroes,” “The Office,” “Dynasty”), and Mia Sara, who is best known as Sloane from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

daughterdarkness2“Daughter of Darkness” is notably unrelated to 1971’s “Daughters of Darkness,” a Belgian vampire movie that has arguably achieved cult status. However, I wouldn’t doubt that the name was inspired by that film, even if the plot elements are entirely original.

The story of “Daughter of Darkness” centers around a young woman who is attempting to locate her long lost father after the death of her mother, a quest that leads her to a small Romanian town that proves to be full of secrets. She eventually discovers that her father is the head of a small clan of vampires, who are fascinated at the fact that a vampire/human hybrid has proved viable, and soon works the group up into an existential frenzy.

One interesting detail about the vampires in “Daughter of Darkness” is their lack of fangs. Most other traditional vampire traits are retained, but instead of fangs, the vampires have tongues that operate not unlike lampreys. I can’t say that I have ever seen that style used before, but it is certainly unsettling.

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Not a sexy vampire, but arguably a practical one

“Daughter of Darkness” is a made for television movie, so it didn’t exactly draw a lot of attention to itself. It originally aired on CBS in January of 1990, so it at least got a run on a major network, which isn’t something you see so much nowadays. It currently hold a 33% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, and an IMDb rating of 5.2: neither of which are particularly impressive.

daughterdarkness4Personally, I felt like “Daughter of Darkness” was more or less a pretty run-of-the-mill vampire movie. There are a few interesting ideas, like the lamprey tongues, the vampiric class conflicts, and the issues of hybridization within the vampire community, but the end result isn’t particularly outstanding. I did think that Perkins and Sara did pretty good work in their roles, and elevated the film from being totally forgettable, but it just lacked a certain charm and flair to it. There isn’t anything particularly bad about this movie, but it never quite makes itself stand out. Also, the fact that it was made from TV clearly limited Stuart Gordon, who is no stranger to screen gore. I can’t really recommend this movie, as it just isn’t very exciting. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t going to light a fire in anyone either. I’d probably recommend it over any other made for TV vampire schlock that is out there, though. Just be aware that this is a movie that leans a lot more towards the Hammer Films tradition that the modern, sexy vampire craze.

In case you do want to give it a go, the film is currently available on YouTube.

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