• Daddy Darling (After Hours Cinema) DVD Review

    Released by: After Hours Cinema
    Released on: jluy 28th, 2009.
    Director: Joseph W. Sarno
    Cast: Helli Louise, Gio Petre, Ole Wisborg, Lise Henningsen
    Year: 1970
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    Daddy Darling - Movie Review:

    Nobody does taboo sex and soap opera melodrama like the one and only Joe Sarno. One of a few films that this genuine auteur or seventies sex films made in Europe during the seventies, Daddy, Darling presents an exploitative take on what is probably the ultimate sexual taboo (or at least one of them) - incest.

    The film follows Katja (the beautiful Helle Louise), a nineteen year old girl who is very, erm, attached to her father, Eric (Ole Wisborg). Since her mother passed away and the two have been left alone, they've had a very close relationship. Now that Katja has blossomed into womanhood, however, things are starting to get a little strange and she finds herself wanting dad's attentions for a different, more primal reason than those of a mere girl. When daddy becomes involved with a foxy woman named Svea (Gio Petre), Katja becomes extremely jealous and decides to turn things up a notch to make sure that her father only has eyes for her. She goes out and buys some lingerie which she parades around the house in and when that doesn't work, she basically throws herself at him and asks him to spend the night in her bed. He wisely refuses and leaves the room rather concerned, but this concern isn't enough to prevent Katja from taking matters into her own hands.

    When Eric asks Svea to marry him, Katja tells her father that his bride to be is a whore and moves in with her friend Lisa (Kyo Feza) and her mother. Katja soon learns that Lisa's mother is sleeping with a young man named Lars (Soren Stromberg)... and so is Lisa who isn't ashamed to boff her boy toy in the room while she thinks Katja is sleeping. Frustrated as frustrated can be, Katja decides to take up art and spends long hours at school working out her emotions on canvas rather than dealing with her problems at home. Eventually her art teacher invites her to attend a showing at the home of a fellow artist, Lena, who is only too keen on inviting Katja in for a little art appreciation of her own. This allows Katja to let go of some of the anger she feels for her father and as such, things mellow out with Svea... or so it seems. Katja isn't even close to finished with her sexual awakening or with her experimentation.

    Directed with the usual sense of style that Sarno always brought to his projects, Daddy, Darling is an interesting and super sexualized take on the incest theme that may very well have gone on to influence the infamous XXX film, Taboo (and it's various sequels of dubious quality). Sarno is smart enough to treat the subject matter reasonably maturely, exploring the relationship between Katja and Eric with a fair bit of sensitivity. While this is a sexploitation picture through and through, it's at least an intelligent one with some honest psychological depth to it. Katja's lust for her father stems from her childhood and her character is given a reason beyond the want for simple physical pleasure to pine away for dad's embrace.

    The film is well shot with some slick camerawork and makes excellent use of a nice, moody soundtrack that fits the tone of the picture well. Performances are better across the board than you'd probably expect, though Helle Louise is rightfully the real star of the film. She brings a fantastic sense of sexual naiveté to her performance that makes the second half of the film all the more interesting and she's not only completely believable in the part, but she's plenty easy on the eyes as well. This might not be the best Sarno film to start with if you're new to his work (which can be a bit of an acquired taste in some ways) but those who already know they dig his films or Euro-sleaze in general really ought to think about picking this one up.

    Daddy Darling - DVD Review:

    The anamorphic 1.78.1 widescreen transfer on this disc looks pretty good considering the age and obscurity of the film. Expect to see some scratches and minor print damage throughout as well as a healthy coat of grain present from start to finish. Some color fading is evident as well. Black levels stay in pretty good shape throughout and detail levels aren't as bad as you might expect them to be. Not a reference quality transfer by any stretch (and an interlaced one at that) but for an aged Euro-sex oddity, Retro-Seduction Cinema has done a decent job with some sketchy source material.

    The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound mix on this disc is on par with the transfer in terms of quality. Expect some harshness in the higher end and some hiss and popping now and again. The score is a tad shrill in spots as well. That said, you can always understand the dialogue and it gets the job done even if at times it isn't as pretty as audiophiles might want it to be.

    The primary extra feature on this disc is Daddy, Darling: A Look Back (16:16), an interview with writer/director Joe Sarno, partner in crime and loving wide Peggy Stephans, and producer Ken Collins. This is an interesting discussion that sheds some very welcome light on the production, from Sarno's original story ideas to shooting on location in Denmark. He talks about casting the film, the cinematography, and the content and as always, Sarno's recollections are as interesting as they are enjoyable.

    Rounding out the extra features is the always enjoyable Retro-Seduction Cinema trailer vault, a brief featurette that shows the restoration work that went into creating this transfer (and which in turn makes the image quality much easier to appreciate) animated menus, and chapter selection. Inside the keepcase packaging (which is housed inside a 'safer' slipcase) is an enjoyable eight page booklet courtesy of Michael Bowen that explains the history of this film and places it in context alongside a number of Sarno's other pictures from this period in his career.

    Daddy Darling - The Final Word:

    The elements might have been in rough shape but Retro-Seduction Cinema have done a decent job bringing this obscure Sarno film back to live on DVD and the movie itself plays very well as a keen mix of taboo sex and familiar melodrama. Daddy, Darling might not be a good choice for the puritanical viewer, but fans of seventies European sex films should definitely check it out.