Sunday, October 28, 2012

Don't Deliver Us From Evil (1971)

Written by: Jose Seria
Directed by: Jose Seria
Starring: Jeanne Goupil, Catherine Wagener, Bernard Dheran

I think a more appropriate title for this movie would be Please Deliver Us Some Evil, because as far as I could tell, there wasn't any in the movie. When Malorie told me she'd put this in our Netflix queue I was really looking forward to it. It's not often she's the one who suggests we watch a notorious piece of Eurosmut. She'd read about it on a Listverse list of great teen angst movies (and that really should have been the first red flag), but considering it was an early 70's exploitation flick that had been banned in a bunch of countries and is on the Mondo Macabro label, I figured we'd be in for a treat.

Anne and Lore are classmates at a Catholic boarding school. When we meet them, Anne is writing in her diary about how they have devoted their lives to sin and evil and their Lord and Master, Satan, and basically trying to make it sound as much like the “thanks” section of the liner notes to a black metal record as a fifteen-year-old French girl living two decades before black metal really got going knows how. Soon Lore runs up and dives under her covers and shows her a magazine from a stack of smut she found stashed in the priest's attic. Then they start making plans for the most totally Satanic summer break, like, ever!

The rest of the movie is basically a thinly-plotted series of vignettes of the aforementioned Satanic summer break. The girls ride their Satanic bicycles, Satanically kill the pet birds belonging to the retarded gardener who works for Anne's parents (I guess that's maybe a little evil but they seem to feel kinda bad about it after, so they only get half marks for evil there), do some Satanic interior decorating at the abandoned guest house on Anne's parents' property, and between all this unbelievably blasphemous activity, they steal and horde host wafers and a few robes from their church so they can perform a black mass and culminate their summer by marrying Satan.

It's clear the girls are just acting out a juvenile fantasy version of Satanism I'm sure more than a few of us are familiar with, and that they're in way over their heads when on no fewer than three occasions Lore very nearly gets raped. I don't doubt that was the intent of the filmmakers, but each time it happens Anne pretty much abandons her friend to the men they tempted. Lore doesn't seem to mind, though, because as soon as they escape they're off on their next adventure and Lore never says a word. Anne isn't nearly a forceful enough personality to make it believable that Lore would put up with this stuff for her. The movie would have been a lot more interesting had it focused on the girls' relationship in that light, but as it is it just makes Lore seem like an idiot.

One element of these almost-rapes does eventually start driving what there is of the plot again, though. Each time it happens, it gets just a little bit more out of control, until the last one ends with the would-be rapist getting his head smashed in with a piece of firewood. Suddenly Anne and Lore's infernal dalliances are going to have real-world consequences, and realizing that no matter how bad-ass they think they are they're not ready for prison, they devise a way to escape punishment and shock their stuffy little community to the core in the movie's one truly effective sequence.

Unfortunately that one effective sequence is too little too late. The movie isn't smart enough to succeed as good drama and it isn't smutty enough to succeed as good exploitation. It's sort of like a realistic version of The Craft, where the girls are just awkward wanna-be devil worshipers who can't do magic and don't have a clue what they're doing, but in their heads it's fucking awesome.

1 comment:

  1. Kinda sounds like a terribly watered down version of Alucarda.

    Now THERE is a teenage angst movie! (Though in fairness Alucarda's angst is well founded.)

    -Doug Hudson