Drama, Horror, Thriller | 100 Mins | Released: 1983
Director: Paul Nicholas
Starring: Anthony Franciosa, Sybil Danning, Isabelle Mejais, Paul Hubbard, Cindy Girling, Reinhard Kolldehoff, Michael Tregor
Our Rating: 6
A teenage girl whose inaction caused her mother’s death arranges a similarly gruesome fate for her stepmother and brother.
She looks like an angel, talks like an angel
7 November 2011
I’ve been searching and waiting to see “Julie Darling” for quite a very long time, and now that I finally watched, I’m both pleased and upset. Pleased because it’s one of the most intense and disturbing 80’s thrillers I’ve seen in a very long time, and upset because it undeservedly became obscure and forgotten amidst the overflow of inferior slasher pictures in that same decade.
“Julie Darling” can more or less be categorized as a so-called Bad Seed effort, or in other words (horror) movies dealing with evil, psychopathic and murderous children. But this awesome little gem qualifies as a lot more than just that as well. It’s a psychological “family” drama with a thoroughly uncanny atmosphere, numerous controversial undertones and a handful of very efficient shock moments.
Julie Wilding is a cherubic and well- educated adolescent girl with a rather unhealthy affection for her daddy. Her mother notices Julie’s rivalry and possessive behavior and wants to send her to a boarding school. But then her mother gets raped and killed by the grocery delivery boy, and even though Julie witnesses the whole thing from atop of the stairs, she doesn’t move a muscle. Just when Julie thinks to have her daddy all for herself, he reveals that he’s been having a secret affair for many years and wants to raise a new family with the lovely Susan and her little son.
Rather than to get her own hands dirty, Julie tracks down her mother’s murderer and blackmails him into doing the same with her new step family. She even joyously adds the words “Oh, and you can rape her all you want.”
If Sigmund Freud would have ever written a movie script, the result would look a lot like “Julie Darling”. The film is literally stuffed with psychosexual references and disputatious elements, like incestuous, intercourse with minors and matricide.
In spite of its obscure status, “Julie Darling” features quite a few famous (in the cult/horror business, at least) names. Writer/director Paul Nicolas was also responsible for the greatest Women in Prison exploitation flick ever made, namely “Chained Heat” released that same wondrous year 1983.
Anthony Franciosa, known from Dario Argento’s giallo classic “Tenebre” is excellent as the unsuspecting (?) father and many horror fanatics will be super enthusiast to see Sybil Danning stars as the lovely stepmom. The one true diva of the film, however, is young Isabelle Mejias as Julie. I always thought that Patty McCormack (“The Bad Seed” 1956) was the most devilish child star, but she’s a church choir girl in comparison to Isabelle Mejias. She depicts a truly frightening, cold-hearted and malignant teenage psycho.
This is something of a strange one. Julie loves her daddy and wants him all to herself so when she witnesses a delivery guy attempting to sexually assault her mother she does nothing to help which ends in her mothers death. Now Julie has daddy all to herself and everything is perfect until her fathers mistress turns up with her son in tow. Julie doesn’t want the competition so she goes about trying to get rid of the two usurpers.
I went into this hoping it was going to be a killer kid film along the lines of ‘Bloody birthday’ or ‘Mikey’ but it’s not it’s more of a thriller. I found it quite dull and with the exception of a disturbing incestuous daydream on Julies part I’d seen it all before. Some of the dialogue between Julie’s father (Anthony Franciosa) and his lady friend (Sybil Danning) is pure cheese. At times I thought I’d started watching a Danielle Steele TV movie. The acting isn’t that great even from the stars of the movie add to that some truly ridiculous plot developments and you end up with a film thats quite hard to take seriously.
For me the most disappointing thing was that Julie didn’t do enough evil stuff. She wasn’t a particularly likable character So I never found myself rooting for her. What the film does do well is maintain a creepy unsettling feeling around the father daughter relationship through out the movie. This was the only thing that kept me watching.