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|“||Just your average, horny little devil||„|
|~ Daryl Van Horne's famous catchphrase.|
Daryl Van Horne is the main antagonist of the 1984 novel The Witches of Eastwick by the late John Updike, and 1987 comedy-dark fantasy film of the same name.
He was portrayed by Jack Nicholson, who also portrayed Jack Torrance in The Shining, the Joker in Batman, Colonel Nathan R. Jessup in A Few Good Men, Jimmy Hoffa in Hoffa, and Frank Costello in The Departed.
Arrival in Eastwick
Alexandra Medford, Jane Spofford and Sukie Ridgemont are three dissatisfied women living in the picturesque town of Eastwick, New England. Alexandra is a sculptress and single mother of one daughter, and Jane is a newly divorced music teacher incapable of having children, while Sukie is an extremely fertile woman with six daughters, who also works as a journalist at the Eastwick Word.
Besides an everlasting friendship, these three women also share the similar misfortune of being abandoned by their husbands. Unaware that they are witches, the women unwittingly form a coven where they have weekly get-togethers and share their fantasies about ideal men.
The day after one such gathering, a mysterious man arrives in the town and immediately stirs up trouble by buying the town's landmark property — the Lennox Mansion. The arrival of this enigmatic stranger causes fascination among the townsfolk — with the exception of Felicia Alden, the Christian wife of newspaper editor Clyde Alden. Clyde is also the boss of Sukie (whom Felicia dislikes). Although Felicia is not a witch, she is somehow able to sense that this man (whose name is easily forgotten) is up to no good. One night, at one of Jane's music recitals, the strange man appears and makes a spectacle of himself, which leads to more gossip among the people. After the recital, Jane receives a bouquet of flowers with the initial “D” written on it. This sparks Sukie’s memory, finally revealing the man's name as Daryl Van Horne. However, as chaos over Daryl’s name spreads throughout the crowd, Sukie’s beaded necklace inexplicably breaks and falls to the floor, causing Felicia (who had mocked Daryl’s name) to trip down a large staircase and break her leg.
The following day, as Daryl sets out to seduce the women one by one, he begins with the self-assured Alexandra, who is at first appalled by Daryl's arrogance, but later falls in love with him. The next morning, Daryl visits Jane, who is considered very insecure and shy. As the two sit down and share polite conversations, Jane explains to Daryl how the Lennox Mansion was built on the same location where alleged witches were burned at the stake. Later that night, Daryl encourages Jane to stop living a life of doubt and learn to enjoy herself by living recklessly. Taking his advice to heart, Jane begins living carelessly by letting her hair down and indulging into alcohol, drugs, and sex.
The following week, Daryl invites all three of the women over to his mansion, which finally allows him to set his sights on Sukie. Later, as envy and rivalry emerges among the women, they inadvertently cause a tennis ball to levitate within mid-air. Finally aware of their magical abilities, the women agree to share Daryl as they continue to spend more and more time with him at his palace.
The Break-up and Showdown
Later, as the women continue their presence at Daryl’s mansion, Felicia begins spreading rumors about all three of the three women’s indecency, causing Alexandra, Jane and Sukie to become social outcasts within the town.
As the witches begin to question their loyalty to Daryl, the diabolical tycoon kills Felicia by causing the girls to unknowingly cast a spell against her. Later that night, as Felicia rants to her husband about Daryl being the Devil, she begins to gradually throw up cherry stones. Unable to bear watching his wife’s illness progress, Clyde beats Felicia with a fire poker, killing her instantly.
Following the death of Felicia, the three women become frightful of their powers and agree never to see or speak to each other and Daryl for a long period of time.
Meanwhile, upset with the witches for abandoning him, Daryl uses his own powers against the girls by bringing their worst fears to life. Alexandra awakens into a bed of snakes and Jane transforms into an old hag, while Sukie is forced to feel excruciating pain. Realizing the only way to rid Daryl from their lives is by using witchcraft against him, the girls reunite only to seduce and ultimately kill Daryl Van Horne. The next morning, as Daryl set out to town, the women perform a banishing spell against him. As Sukie rushes to Daryl's office and takes a grimoire titled "Maleficio", Jane gathers some personal belongings of Daryl (such as clothing, hair and photos), while Alex creates a voodoo doll out of wax, made to resemble Daryl. Once the spell begins taking effect, Daryl races home to punish the girls for their betrayal. Terrified of Daryl’s dominance over them, the witches toss the puppet into a fire, causing Daryl to vanish.
18 months later, Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie have each borne a son. Although they still possess their magical powers, they stray away from using them out of fear that they may unintentionally resurrect Daryl. However, as the women now live together in the Lenox Mansion, Daryl often attempts to communicate with his children by appearing on television screens. However, worried of Daryl's diabolical intentions, the witches simply avoid him by clicking off the television.