• Don’t Deliver Us From Evil (Mondo Macabro) DVD Review

    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: March 28, 2006.
    Director: Joel Seria
    Cast: Jeanne Goupil, Catherine Wagener, Gerard Darrieu, Bernard Dheran, Michel Robin
    Year: 1970
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    Don’t Deliver Us From Evil – Movie Review:

    Never before released on home video in the United States and making its world premiere on home video in its uncut form for the first time ever with this 2006 DVD release, Don’t Deliver Us From Evil is a very loose adaptation of the notorious story of Pauline Parker and Juliet Hammond, the two murderous maids who also inspired Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures (still arguably his best film…. Hobbits and giant apes be damned). While there are some similarities between the two films, Joel Seira’s take on the story, his feature film debut, is very different in tone, execution, and theme as it manages to bring a far more blasphemous interpretation of the events into play.

    Anne (Jeanne Goupil) and her best friend Lore (Catherine Wagener) are two pretty but very mischievous girls enrolled in a Catholic school who entertain themselves by arousing the priest with phony confessions and exposing the nuns who, shall we say, indulge each other a little more than the Brides of Christ as normally supposed to. The girls also really dig evil, in all its forms, and delight in the forbidden pleasures they find from reading erotic literature together under the covers in the convent, and in committing sacrilegious deeds all the day long.

    When school is let out and they head home for the summer, Anne’s parents leave her alone for two months with only the groundskeeper to look after her. This allows Anne to spend as much time as she wants with Lore and with no one around to reel them in, they find themselves getting into a little bit of trouble here and there. The girls are also planning to realize their commitment to their dark lord in a sort of impromptu black mass ceremony that they organize to take place in the family chapel that’s on Anne’s family property – no one will ever know, it’s not been used in twenty-five years.

    It all starts when the girls decide to tease the local cow herder, which results in Lore being sexually assaulted by him. They escape, but they don’t learn their lesson and go so far as to murder the groundskeeper’s pet birds and start fires around the countryside. Eventually, while out riding their bicycles, they come across a stranded motorist and take him back to Anne’s house under the false pretense of wanting to help him, but what he doesn’t realize is that these two girls have pledged their allegiance to Satan in a black ceremony only recently and are sworn to uphold his evil ways. There’s no way it’s going to end nicely… in fact, the ending is likely to stick with you for some time and you won’t see this one coming.

    Don’t Deliver Us From Evil works really well thanks to the performances of Jeanne Goupil and Catherine Wagener who deliver their devilish dialogue with the utmost sincerity. When these girls utter their proclamations, you’ll believe that they mean it which gives the movie a very eerie feeling – something just isn’t right. Add to that the fact that although both girls were legal adults when the movie was made they look far too young to be as promiscuous as they are in the film and you’ve got yourself a seedy yet sophisticated film that rarely feels aged or campy as so many seventies Satanist movies tend to do.

    In addition to the performances, the movie also boasts some excellent cinematography and, to be blunt, it all looks really good. The scene were Anne is in the church imagining the priest wearing nothing but his birthday suit is really well edited and the camera work during the scene where the two girls try to dump the priest into the swamp near the house is tense and claustrophobic, taking place in the thick of night but lit well enough so that we can see exactly what is going on.

    Ultimately the film works not because of the sex and the violence (there really isn’t that much of it in here, to be honest) but because of the way that it tackles its subject with style and intelligence. The movie makes us think a bit: did the girls travel the path they chose because they were predisposed to that type of behavior or was it rebellion against the Catholicism that was crammed down their throats? The girls state at one point in the film that their parents don’t care about them and the interactions we see between the girls and their families shows cold and uncaring relationships. With that in mind and the girls left to their own devices by way of parental neglect, is it any wonder they turned out the way they did? Some of the sacrilegious dialogue and blasphemous imagery might put off a few viewers here and there and, in fact, it was this content that got the film into trouble when it first came out, but without it the movie would lose much of its impact – as it stands now it’s a powerful and well-made film that really deserves a wider audience. Hopefully with this release, it’ll find one.

    Don’t Deliver Us From Evil – DVD Review:

    The 1.66.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer on this release, which was re-mastered in high definition, is very nice, even if it isn’t perfect – and by the standards of 2021, it could use a refresh. There’s some mild print damage present throughout in select scenes as well as moderate to heavy amounts of grain here and there, though there’s a pleasantly surprising level of fine detail present in both the foreground and the background of the image. The colors look a little less vibrant than they maybe should have, though it’s hard to tell if this is a fault in the elements that were made available or a choice in the art direction for the film as it is pretty consistent throughout. Either way, the movie looks nice enough on DVD and Mondo Macabro did a very good job with the presentation of this film by the standards of the day in which it was released.

    The French language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono soundtrack is pretty solid, despite some mild hiss in a few scenes and a little bit of flatness here and there in the track. The score comes through with a sufficient amount of punch and there are no problems with the levels or with distortion on this release.

    The main supplements on this release come in the form of two interviews and a documentary. First up is a chat with Joel Seira, clocking in at roughly fifteen-minutes, who wrote and directed the film. He talks about some of the problems that the project ran into, the issues that the French censors had with the material, and where he came up with the idea for the movie in the first place. Seira tells us how this was his first feature film and manages to do a pretty good job of filling us in on the back story of this odd production.

    From there we’re treated to a talk with Jeanne Goupil for roughly twelve-minutes in which the woman who played Anne in the film talks about her work. She covers about her experiences on the set, how she feels about the film and the character that she played, and where her career went after the production was finished. She covers working with Catherine Wagener, how her own inexperience as an actress came into play, and what it was like on set.

    The documentary entitled Hellish Creatures features Paul Buck (it runs for about twelve-minutes), a British crime expert, who fills us in on the real live events that inspired the film (as well as Heavenly Creatures). What we learn from this documentary is that the filmed version on this DVD is only marginally connected to the way things happened to Pauline Parker and Juliet Hammond in real life. Seira took many liberties with his adaptation of the story and Buck examines them pretty thoroughly here.

    Rounding out the extra features is an interesting essay on the history of the film by Pete Tombs that details its censorship problems and distribution history, a still gallery of promotional artwork, disc credits, and the always fun Mondo Macabro promo reel.

    Don’t Deliver Us From Evil - The Final Word:

    Don’t Deliver Us From Evil is an atmospheric and intelligent film that works really well thanks to some solid cinematography and excellent lead performances. Mondo Macabro continues their tradition of excellence with this release and the extras compliment the feature perfectly.