Directed by Joel Seria
Distrubed by Mondo Macabro
The DVD artwork of Don’t Deliver us From Evil might lead you to expect a stock “youth gone wild” type of exploitation film, and it certainly has elements of that. But it’s so much more… it’s an arthouse shocker that’s beautifully shot and scored, and the performances and art direction are top notch across the board. It twists and turns relentlessly from a thing of beauty into a macabre, malignant and disturbing beast and back out again. The longer it plays, the stronger the contrast grows between the sweet and the sinister.
Visually, there’s a lot of cool stuff in this film for fans of the early 70’s horror era. There are flashes of soft-focus, summery field romps and angelic faces that evoke at times an almost Sound of Music feel, but in the dark context of this film these images are downright creepy. There are stylized, candlelit nocturnal wanderings that evoke a Jean Rollin aesthetic, while in the daytime, the old European village and castle-like Estates recall the strange, quaint eeriness of The Wicker Man (no, not the remake). It all sounds very idyllic, but as increasingly ugly and mean spirited events continue to permeate the narrative, hearing the giggling laughter of these girls echoing through the halls, abbeys, and fields is anything but serene.
The antiheroes of this story, Anne de Boissy & Lore Fournier, aren’t your everyday adolescent troublemakers – these girls are wise to their feminine wiles and allure, and they share an extraordinarily cruel streak. Sure, they run and bicycle about the countryside and find secret places to do their whimsical teenage things. And like adolescent best friends on a summer break, they’re smiling and fawn-like until they’re out of the sight and mind of their parents and caretakers. But what these two get up to on their own is anything but child’s play.
In a sense, Don’t Deliver us from Evil could be seen as a second or third cousin to the ugly but very real human themes explored in films like The Honeymoon Killers or Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. What these films share is the study of criminal pairings, how people who alone might not be inclined to act out their horrible urges can quite easily end up doing so once paired with the right (or, better put, horribly wrong) partner in crime. For Anne & Lore, the deadly symbiosis emerges through forming a rebellious bond within a culture of strict religious oppression.
This film is interesting in that it explores the crime duo phenomenon at such a young age – the naivety of the youthful antagonists is a central angle … you have to wonder if people under a certain age are fully aware of how wicked they are being and how much others truly suffer for it. Although adolescents aren’t impervious to guilt or empathy, they can definitely be self-centred enough to view horrible actions as a game and the power of peer influence can be more detrimental than is the case with adults. But like adults, once a certain threshold of bad behavior is breached, the girls become bound by an even stronger mutual dependency from having to keep their crimes covered up. The film wisely addresses all of these factors in the motivation of the anti-heroines, making the story far more intelligent and insightful than typical sleaze fare.
The story kicks off in a religious girls’ school with a rigid, stuffy, and authoritarian atmosphere. You can totally see why a rebellious streak would emerge – who would want to have to live a dull, pious existence when so many fun and risqué adventures await just outside the door? The overbearing religious repression invites a specific (and logical) initial response – blasphemy. The one good thing you can say about Anne and Lore is that they are quite creative with their cruelty. They’re not above your typical unimaginative crimes like theft, arson, deceit, and blackmail. But what they do particularly well is imaginative psychological torture and ritualistic heresy. They strike their victims in a way that the misery inflicted can be savoured and observed and they utilize their sexuality in ways that ensure the victim is bound to silence by the social or religious digression of their role in the crimes.
Perverts reading this, yes, this is about private school girls and yes, there is flesh on display. But this isn’t like women in prison films – these girls feel young enough that their brazen sexuality and vicious manipulation of hapless males is bound to make a lot of viewers squirm. They invite trouble, and boy do they get it!
Anne & Lore hit hard and they don’t tend to play favourites – sad, lonely, impoverished men are just as likely targets as those who are established. Although, they do seem to take a particular pleasure in going after thick or imbecilic types – in this sense, the film might be making some kind of class comment about the privileged wreaking sadistic havoc on the proletariat simply because they can…
There are other thought provoking aspects to the plot as well. I can’t be certain if this film is a damning charge against religious oppression or not. On one hand, you could argue that the story shows how repression breeds evil. On the other, the film could be making the case that rejection of the divine rule is the root of all evil, whether that’s in the church itself (hypocrisy and succumbing to sexual temptation) or amongst the churchgoers (Anne & Lore being an extreme example). Who knows – there’s an interview with the director and the actress who played Anne on the DVD so maybe viewing those can shed more light on the moral “message” of the film.
But leave the intellectual musing for later, if that’s even your thing. For now, just get a hold of this gem from Mondo Macabro – it’s really well presented release and as usual has some great extras thrown in. Don’t Deliver us from Evil is an engaging, shocking, and disturbing watch with a madly morbid theatrical finale that you won’t soon forget.
I can say that those aforementioned DVD extras are well put together and insightful. They are relatively short, but then, I personally find it can get to be a bit much when a film’s creators go on too long about every little detail. I almost prefer what Mondo Macabro did with this release to the typical director’s commentary – here, it’s a nicely refined peek into the film’s controversies and narrative motivations, but not so much on the technical side that the mystique is undone.
You’ll learn about the director’s inspirations for telling such a dark and arguably nihilistic story, as well has how literate and well thought out the content of this film is. You’ll get detailed info on how and why Don’t Deliver us from Evil was banned on original release, and from the director interview and an insightful featurette called “Hellish Creatures”, you’ll get an idea of the influence the plot took from the real New Zealand crime duo of Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker. Lastly, if you read the About the Film section, a couple of aspects you might have suspected as being over the line or unnecessarily brutal in the making of the film are debunked, so you can sleep soundly after watching this movie after all.
4 out of 5
5 out of 5
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7 GUARDIANS OF THE TOMB Review – Rest Easy, Indiana Jones, There’s Not Much To See Here
Starring Kellan Lutz, Bingbing Li, Kelsey Grammar
Directed by Kimble Rendall
If it only weren’t for those friggin’ spiders. Kimble Rendall’s adventurous flick, 7 Guardians Of The Tomb is one of those “wanted to be, yet couldn’t quite hit the mark” action-films that will probably entertain those looking for some cave-dwelling escapades caught on celluloid, but for the more picky aficionado of said slam-bang pics, this one might be viewed as a bit stagnant. Let’s strap on our mining helmets and pick around this one, shall we?
Acting as a bit of a search-and-rescue formation, the movie tails alongside Dr. Jia Lee (Li) as she hunts down the whereabouts of her missing brother after losing contact with him while he was on expedition in Western China. Apparently he was looking for a secretive Emperor’s tomb that supposedly holds a potion that can reanimate, or re-invigorate…or rehabilitate – anyway you slice it, the juice has got some pretty potent powers. So a search team is assembled, led by Mason (Grammar – glad someone got Frasier off of the barstool), and he’s latched onto all-American fella Jack (Lutz) to assist this operation. As it turns out, the initial journey is cut off fairly quick when a violent electrical storm forces the group to head underground, and that’s when things get creepy and crawly…like 8-legged style. The film is ripe with some feverish action and a few decent performances, but it’s the overall framework that acts as the big bully, tauntingly kicking sand in the little guy’s face at the beach.
We’ve got love interests, a flurry of backstories, and oh my lord, those spiders! Yep, even the heartiest of CGI can effectively ruin a good case of the willies when it comes to arachnids and their powers of sucking humans and animals dry of their lifeforce. It’s an intently goofy movie, and even the dialogue seems a bit showy at times, leaving plausibility and intelligence at the entrance to the caves. Lutz is fun to watch as the burly rescuer, and he looks as the type who is just waiting for his cinematic moment to step into the spotlight. What pains me is that this movie really could have been something much bigger, and apparently it looks as if the majority of the film’s budget was wasted on those hokey-looking computerized spiders.
All in all, 7 Guardians Of The Tomb is spotty entertainment, even if you despise those little skittering aphids racing towards you, programmed or not. Give it a peek if Raiders Of The Lost Ark isn’t readily available at your disposal…even that crappy Crystal Skull one.
A film that could have been so much more adventure-wise instead comes off looking like a lesson in how not to waste too much time on computer imagery.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 160 – A QUIET PLACE
Lately, it seems as though comedy actors are cutting their teeth as horror directors and absolutely killing it! This year’s indie horror darling comes in the form of John Krasinki’s A Quiet Place. Chris has been sick as a dog, so the haomie Christine from Horrible Imaginings Film Fest is filling in to discuss whether A Quiet Place is 2018’s horror heavyweight, or just a lot of noise.
What Bruno took was what changed me; it only amplifies your essence. It simply makes you more of what you already are. It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 160!
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THE DEVIL AND FATHER AMORTH Review: Friedkin Goes Mondo Catholic
Directed by William Friedkin
Hitting theaters this weekend in NYC and LA is William Friedkin’s new documentary, The Devil and Father Amorth. And right away I am asked: “Is it ‘good’?” You don’t watch a documentary like this with that in mind. Faces of Death, Traces of Death, Mondo Cane. They are not here to be “good”—they are beyond words like that. Beyond good and bad.
It is more like the sideshow—Behold! See what has not been seen before! The Horror! The Forbidden! And you hand the man your ticket — you see The Arabian Giantess at the flea market in New Jersey, and maybe it is a sleight of hand and made of papier-mâché, but it was worth that dollar, and now you have a story. You have bought your way into the unknown.
The Devil and Father Amorth is light on science (and length – it runs just 68 minutes) and heavy on faith. If you have been exposed to Friedkin’s — or more specifically, William Peter Blatty’s — work, there is the struggle with belief in the Roman Catholic faith, and also in the search for evidence of the miracle. You could also prove the Force of Divine Good if you could face the opposite side of the coin—the Force of Evil, in the vernacular of Catholicism—the Devil himself. Paradoxical, yes—faith exists without proof; and so what is the drive to tell the world God exists, the Devil exists?
In the documentary we learn Rome is filled with the possessed. Hundreds of people are contacting the Church about their own possession or the possession of their loved ones. The Most Holy Father Amorth is the person the Vatican has tapped to perform exorcisms—thousands of them. And sometimes he has repeat business. Christina is one such woman, exorcised nine times and still susceptible to the Force of Evil. Those of us who are non-believers look at this woman as someone who is troubled—but “through the eyes of faith,” obviously it is a demon.
Surrounded by her family, the rite begins, and you see… an actual exorcism. There is no enhancement, no Dick Smith make-up; it is not as dramatic as we want it to be. Should we get her help that is not in the form of a witch doctor? What about doctors? And so we meet them.
Friedkin brings the footage to top hospitals in NYC. Psychologists give their point of view. Then neurosurgeons. They don’t know what’s going on—the exorcism seems to help, but they do see that it might be a cultural remnant. There is a medical diagnosis for it, as it can affect anyone of any faith. But the doc never digs too deep. I am disappointed: I needed to know more. I don’t believe it.
Are they hurting Christina? Is she just another female the Church is suppressing, as they did with witches—the control, the stigma, of the female body and identity? None of this is explored because it’s just a 1-dollar ticket under the striped tent, just left of the dancing girls and the strong man—Actual! Exorcist! Footage! Hurry up and see!
As Friedkin mentioned himself, when someone asks you to film an exorcism, you say yes. So see it for the freak show. Expect nothing else. And either you believe or you don’t, based on how you were raised — mythology, religion, or superstition.
See it for the freak show. Expect nothing else.
- Josh Gastronomicon Myers Sweet!
- Tarman_85 I just read that Bruce isn't interested in continuing on with the character. https://twitter.com/GroovyBruce/status/988510246829109249?s=17
- Steven Millan The most important question to ask Dario Argento during his HorrorCon UK appearance is what is the status of THE SANDMAN(his crowdfunded project),which once seemed ready to film until Dario had a...
- FortesqueX I bet there'll be a bunch of hillbillies.
- FlixtheCat You're very kind.
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