Were Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey's characters in Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures a bit too warm and fuzzy for your taste? Well then, do I have a film for you! Released in 1971 and promptly banned for blasphemy, Joël Séria's Don't Deliver Us from Evil is easily one of the most shocking films I've ever seen, but for none of the typical "horror movie" reasons. Equal parts exceptionally unenjoyable and yet still, somehow, a fantastic film, Don't Deliver Us from Evil might be one of my new favorite movies that I have no intention of ever watching again for as long as I live.
The True Crime-Inspired Plot: Loosely based on New Zealand's infamous Parker-Hulme murder case from 1954, Evil follows one crazy summer of friendship between two wacky Catholic school girls. And when I say crazy, I mean actual psychopathy. And when I say wacky, I mean Satan-worshipping, pet-killing, land-burning, stranger-murdering lesbians. It isn't surprising that Evil was banned pretty much everywhere (including its native France) and was only just released in the US in 2006 thanks to distributor Mondo Macabro.
Evil is a film about best friends Anne (Jeanne Goupil) and Lore (Catherine Wagener); two young ladies who pledge their devotion to Satan and each other instead of the religion of their strict Catholic school. They promise Satan that they will lead lives of evil, which apparently includes making false confessions to their school priest, accusing two nuns of lesbianism, torturing cats, strangling birds, and flashing their vaginas at any man within a ten-mile radius.
"Fun Fact" (According to Don't Deliver Us from Evil anyway): Apparently every man in France in 1971, be him simple farm hand, differently-abled gardener, or well-to-do married stranded motorist, was a sex-crazed rapist. Seriously. If France was really like this in the 70s (or whenever the film takes place), it's a wonder that women could walk the streets without being attacked. Because in this film, all it takes is the site of some teenage leg, and men absolutely lose their frigging minds.
Could It Be... SATAN?: No, not really. Despite an elaborate Satanic mass conducted by the girls early in the film in which they give big ups to their buddy, the satanic angle really seems to have little to do with Anne and Lore's behavior. Satan or not, these girls could be diagnosed with any number of psychological conditions, but it pretty much all boils down to them being epic tw*twaffles. Like most stories of this nature, their unwavering obsession with each other is what dictates every one of their decisions. For my money, what makes Don't Deliver Us from Evil even better than Heavenly Creatures (a movie that I also love) is that it is absolutely unflinching in its depictions of violence. It doesn't help that while 21 and 19-years-old respectively, Goupil and Wagener both look like children; a detail which makes Evil that much more unnerving.
In the end, I spent years trying to locate a copy of Don't Deliver Us from Evil, then sort of forgot about it, and then was reminded about it again when queuing up a Satan film for a Horror Honeys event. I can't say I was disappointed. Between an unwavering commitment to terrifying the audience and an ending that will haunt you for hours after the credits roll, Evil is the kind of film that would almost certainly never find a distributor if made today. It's an undeniably brave endeavor, one that must be admired, and even so, one that I will not be watching again any time soon.
Revenge Honey Rating: 4 Crazy Catholic School Girls out of 5