This AIP film follows the downhill plunge of Tara Nicole Steele (Holly Near in her film debut), the unattractive, overweight, vulnerable daughter of wealthy couple Astrid (Jennifer Jones) – a free-spirited former adult film star – and Willy (Charles Aidman) – a wealthy industrialist and closet homosexual.
On her return from boarding school in Switzerland, her parents throw her a coming-out party where a rock star/cult leader named Bogart (Jordan Christopher) – a budget version of Jim Morrison – takes a liking to young Tara.
Bogart and his bandmates – including singer Lou Rawls in his movie debut and Roddy McDowall – worm their way into the Steele family and tear it apart by manipulating everyone, with Bogart using skydiving and sex to lure his victims in.
Shot in the wake of the success of Wild in the Streets (1968), which Robert Thom wrote, AIP allowed Thom to write and direct his first film. Released in some markets as Cult of the Damned, it’s best viewed as a time capsule of the late 1960s.
Former Academy Award winner Jennifer Jones should have sued her agent.
Bogart Peter Stuyvesant
Tara Nicole Steele
Maitre D’s Wife
Tara Nicole, Age 3
Tara Nicole, Age 8