This 1971 film from French director Joël Séria centres around the lives of two girls, Anne and Lore, living at a convent boarding school. The two girls climb under their bedsheets and read erotic novels in secret by torchlight and long to rebel from the boring routine of boarding school life. They become increasingly rebellious as the term wears on, and their realisation of the hypocrisy of the nuns and priests that serve as their teachers grows with every passing day.
By the time the summer holidays arrive, the pair have spied on lesbian nuns, teased a sexually frustrated priest and pledged to devote their lives to sin. The two girls spend the summer holidays together, and become deeply unhappy on the rare occasions when they are kept apart. Anne makes daily entries into her secret diary and writes letters to Lore, telling her how she can’t bare to be apart from her.
Over the course of the summer, the girls declare their undying love for each other and perform a blood ceremony, binding themselves together for life. They also perform a Satanic communion involving stolen communion bread and wine, with a local simpleton acting as the priest. They appear to have some sort of control over his mind, but it’s not clear how this is achieved. These are must-watch scenes for any fan of cult film and vintage horror. For a few seconds, you really believe that two teenage girls have called upon Satan and proclaimed him their supreme lord.
The two girls have realised that they can use sex appeal to seduce and tease men, and they make several attempts to do so throughout the film, all of which end badly for the male characters. These are portrayed as either stupid, ignorant, or utterly vile pigs that will attempt to rape a teenage girl at the first sight of exposed flesh.
It would be easy to deride the film as a nasty exploitation flick, full of gratuitous nudity and blasphemous imagery. There is plenty of that, but there is also more to the film than just offending prudes and religious zealots. With the exception of some ill-advised bird killing and arson, the girls are a lot more innocent than the apparently wholesome Christian society they long to rebel from. They are free from the sexual repression and hypocrisy of their parents’ generation, even if they are ultimately doomed to be consumed by their devotion to the Devil.
The two girls attempt to tease a simple-minded farm hand by pretending to seduce him. Of course, he takes them seriously and promptly pounces on them. What follows is one of the most unpleasant scenes of grunting and groping I’ve ever seen. The man (who is not very intelligent to begin with) becomes a horrible animal. It’s difficult watch and brilliantly done at the same time.
This is a film that contains plenty of softcore nudity from the two lead actresses, but at the same time manges to mock, degrade and teach the male members of the audience a thing or two about how to treat women. None of the male protagonists actually manages to do anything much more than kiss and grope the girls before they turn on them and react violently, ultimately with deadly results. I’m not sure if Anne and Lore are seducing the men on purpose in order to have an excuse to attack them, or whether they are supposed to be genuinely offended when their immature games go too far. Either way, the result is as disturbing as it is memorable.
One thing that contemporary viewers may find a little disturbing is the age of the girls, or rather the age of the characters the two actresses are playing. They don’t seem old enough to be behaving the way they are on camera, and I’m left with the impression that they would have to be several years older if the film were being made in the 21st century.
Watched today, Don’t Deliver Us From Evil is a haunting and surprisingly artistic journey into the cinematic past. On paper, it should be a dodgy video nasty that should never be viewed by anyone, ever. In reality, it’s a quite a good film if you like suicidal teenage Satanic lesbian killers, but I’m guessing that Black Sunday Magazine’s readers are cool with that!
Steve Wilson is a freelance writer and musician from South Yorkshire. He plays the guitar and sings in the band Iron Void and is the founder of Doomanoid Records.