Monday, June 29, 2009
Don't Deliver Us From Evil (1971)
Anne. . . . Jeanne Goupil
Lore. . . . Catherine Wagener
Priest. . . . Serge Frederic
Gustave. . . . Rene Berthier
Lore and Anne are just a couple of average Catholic school girls—except for the fact that they have vowed to forsake the Lord and live a life of sin, giving themselves fully to Satan when the time is right. Until then, it’s mostly small potatoes sorts of wicked deeds: getting other girls in trouble at school, stealing from the priest, confessing to sins that they didn’t commit and committing sins that they don’t confess—that sort of thing. But when Anne’s wealthy parents go on vacation for two months, leaving Anne in the care of the servants, it’s high hell time at the old chateau.
In an ass-backwards religious ceremony akin to a black mass, the girls make the final leap into the devil’s arms, and it’s not long before they see how truly deep the river of darkness can run, and how far they really are willing to go to carry out their promise, culminating in a finale that is excellently existential in a way that only the French could pull off.
This film is equally magnetic and appalling, precisely as it is meant to be. Although there are no truly frightening moments (it’s not precisely a horror film, more of a glimpse into the world of two girls who invite horror into their lives), it is chock full of sleaze. A strong sexual current runs throughout the entire story, surpassing any sort of coming-of-age, hormonal awakening and reaching toward outright perversity. There’s a brief teaser of a lesbian scene between two nuns (mirroring the mostly-unspoken relationship between Lore and Anne), and there is no shortage of middle-aged men ogling the young school girls—nor is there any shortage of them giving the men something to ogle. Disturbingly, little Lore is almost raped during the film, not once, but twice by two separate men! The first of these scenes was particularly troublesome in that it offered a full frontal, full-body glimpse of the nymph. These scenes, while still rather exploitative, were obviously meant to shock the viewer, and not to titillate them in a sexual manner. Believe it or not, I fully bought our two stars as fourteen-year-olds, and was relieved (if not disbelieving) when I learned that they were actually 19 and 20 years of age.
A few qualms with the Mondo Macabro DVD release of the film, however. Although English subtitles are available, there is no menu option with which to turn them on. You have to use the ‘subtitle’ button on your remote control. Also, there is one particular scene in which a character quietly reads a letter which seems to be fairly important, as the camera lingers on it long enough for the viewer to read. However, it is written in French, and the subtitles don’t translate it for us English-speaking viewers.
BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW: Don’t Deliver Us From Evil is inspired by the same true-crime story as Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures; This film was banned in France because of its anti-Catholic tone, and was never theatrically released in America.
ALSO KNOWN AS: Mais ne nous délivrez pas du mal
French (with English subtitles)
Don't Deliver Us From Evil is currently ranked #44,632 in DVDs at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!