Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting (1969)

“He was mine, Kathy — I needed him. Don’t you know what you did? You murdered my baby!”

Daddy's Gone a Hunting Poster

Synopsis:
Years after his pregnant girlfriend, Cathy (Carol White), has an abortion, a psychopath named Kenneth (Scott Hylands) tries to “even the score” by getting the now-married Cathy to kill her newborn child.

Genres:

Review:
Written by Larry Cohen and directed by Mark Robson (Valley of the Dolls), this oddly-titled psycho-thriller is based on an intriguing ethical dilemma: should a fetus in a woman’s body be considered solely hers, or does it “belong” just as equally to the father? Unfortunately, however, the film fails to exploit this rich subject, instead using it simply as a convenient narrative crutch. Cathy and Kenneth’s relationship is glossed over in a heartbeat, and we never get into the mind of Kenneth — a creepy bastard, yet someone who’s clearly got an interesting story to tell.

Instead, we follow the travails of the rather insipid White — who, unlike Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby, fails to involve us on more than a surface level in her maternal crisis (though this could be at least partly a function of the script). Equally egregious is an unconvincing plot device in which Cathy is conveniently “prevented” from telling her aspiring-politician husband (a bland Paul Burke) about her checkered past, due to fear of public scandal. This choice makes no sense, given that a dark secret between husband and wife doesn’t need to go beyond the bedroom doors.

To their credit, however, Cohen and Robson handle the thriller elements of the story quite well: in a satisfying narrative decision, it’s left unclear throughout the first half of the film whether or not Cathy is imagining Kenneth’s stalking; and, once it’s established that she’s not, things kick into high gear. The final 1/2 hour is particularly tense, as Cathy’s baby is shown to be in genuine danger — from Cathy herself. Overall, however, this provocatively-themed film — which could have been so much better — remains a disappointment.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • A provocative premise
    Premise
  • A few genuinely heart-pounding moments
    Car
  • The final climactic sequence
    Climax

Must See?
No. While based on an intriguing idea, this psycho-thriller ultimately fails to deliver on its potential.

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One Response to “Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting (1969)”

  1. Not a must. Unh-uh.

    This is the kind of movie that eventually gave some executive producer the idea for the Lifetime channel.

    It’s told in an all-around flat manner with little style and what looks like a modest budget.

    The last ten minutes come up to the plate and are admittedly tense – but small compensation.

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