May 12, 2012

Don't Deliver Us from Evil

The mysteriously perverse Comte de Lautréamont (pseudonym of Uruguayan-born French poet Isidore-Lucien Ducasse) and his sole novel Les Chants de Maldoror (The Songs of Maldoror) had an imperative influence on the anti-bourgeois/anti-Christian sentiments of the already debauched Dadaist/Surrealist artists (including Salvador Dalí, André Breton, Antonin Artaud, Man Ray, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, etc) of the early 20th century, but one can only wonder what kind of affect the quasi-satanic long prose poem would have on two increasingly subversive Catholic convent girls. In the exquisite once-lost French film Don't Deliver Us from Evil (1971) aka Mais ne nous délivrez pas du mal directed by Joël Séria, such a succulently sardonic and sacrilegious scenario is played out for the pleasure of the viewer in a most cunningly cruel yet charmingly carnal fashion. Like Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures (1994), Don't Deliver Us from Evil is loosely based on the 1954 little lesbians Parker-Hulme murder case in Christchurch, New Zealand, but, more than anything, the film is a potent therapeutic expression of actor-turned-director Joël Séria’s personal disdain for the sexually-repressed authoritarian nature of Catholic Church. As an angry Catholic schoolboy, Séria, like the two anti-heroesses of his directorial debut Don't Deliver Us from Evil, found much solace in the devilishly decadent poetry of Lautréamont and Charles Baudelaire. Of course, probably thinking that no one would want to watch two heretical frog-boys hop around for 100+ minutes, Séria opted for casting two exceedingly cute girls to play the lead roles than teenage boy characters modeled more after his own particular and less eventful misspent youth. Séria made the wise decision, as the two lead cutesy gals of Don't Deliver Us from Evil – Anne (played by Jeanne Goupil) and Lore (played by Catherine Wagener) – are quite the barely-legal eye candy. Anne, a Mediterranean-like girl with black hair and dark eyes, is the master in the relationship and little Lore, a blonde Nordic girl, is her loyal and obliging girl slave. After becoming disillusioned with the hypocritical mores of the Catholic Church and seeing two nuns involved in Lesbian blasphemy, the two girls rightfully decide to make an unofficial pact with Satan and bring havoc upon the cold convent they so thoroughly abhor. 

 The girls of Don't Deliver Us from Evil are truly bloomed flowers of evil. Quite conscious of the appeal of their fresh and curvy virginal flesh, Anne and Lore lure in a variety of older men by flashing their white panties in a terribly tempting way. After nearly getting raped in the process, the two girls reap revenge by doing everything from killing their prospective rapists’ precious pet birds to brutally murdering them in a bloody good fashion. Although much more stunning and alluring than her loyal compatriot, Anne uses the more saintly-looking Lore as the underage object of horny old men’s desire. Director Joël Séria has stated that Don't Deliver Us from Evil is less about a teenage lesbian relationship and more about one girl possessing complete psychological dominance over another. For those filmgoers looking for their quasi-pornographic fantasies of teenage girls to be fulfilled, Don't Deliver Us from Evil is probably the wrong film to see as it may bring about castration-anxiety in certain viewers. Like mute anti-heroess Thana of Abel Ferrara’s exploitation masterpiece Ms. 45 (1981), the lovely little ladies of Don't Deliver Us from Evil have an uncompromising disdain for criminally perverted untermensch and thus act accordingly. Of course, to an extent, Don't Deliver Us from Evil is an erotically-charged work, but the various scenes of sick teenage sensuality are ultimately eclipsed by the film's Satanic anti-Catholic and anti-bourgeois themes. In fact, upon its release, Don't Deliver Us from Evil was banned not for its steaming portrayal of enfant terrible eroticism, but due to its glaring anti-Catholic themes, hence the relatively obscure status of the film until somewhat recently. Virtually plot-less in form, Don't Deliver Us from Evil is almost as anarchistic in structure as it is in sentiment. Although director Joël Séria claims that the film is almost wholly inspired by his personal youthful experiences and communal readings of decadent French poetry, he did, unsurprisingly, cite the films of Luis Buñuel as a minor influence. That being said, a dual screening of Don't Deliver Us from Evil with Buñuel’s final work That Obscure Object of Desire (1977) would make for a flawless ungodly double-feature, as both films offer a distinguished and uninhibited exhibition of anti-bourgeois sex and politics, minus the overly preachy intellectual masturbation typical of such works. 

 Although a non-actor before appearing in the film, Joël Séria made the right decision when he decided to cast Jeanne Goupil as the lead in Don't Deliver Us from Evil as she would not only prove to give an iconic (if mostly unseen) performance, but would also go on to be the director’s longtime lover. Despite going on to mainly direct comedies, Joël Séria would make one more wonderfully wicked film with gorgeous Goupil as the lead. In 1976, Séria directed Marie, the Doll aka Marie-poupée, a work that like Don’t Deliver Us from Evil, examines the aberrant nature and inevitable symptoms of bourgeois sexual restraint, including pedophilia. In a sense, Marie, The Doll is a much darker film with an even more tragic ending, but Don’t Deliver Us from Evil certainly holds its own as a magnificent work of singular movie malevolence. If you’re a fretful young lady that wants to put an end to the dubious and undesirable propositions of a certain aggressive dirty old man in your life, recommend that they see Don’t Deliver Us from Evil and let those pathetic perverted fellows know how you really feel. I would never call myself a proponent of feminism, but Don’t Deliver Us from Evil is one of few works that reminds me that women have certain inalienable rights, including the right to kill if necessary. Of course, I would be lying if I did not admit that one of the greatest appeals of Don’t Deliver Us from Evil is Jeanne Goupil and her plentifully profane yet wholly persuading presence. If the Church of Satan ever gets around to updating their Video List, I think it is safe to say that they should make an effort to add Don’t Deliver Us from Evil to it, as it makes Rosemary's Baby (1967) seem like a cautionary Catholic fairytale.

-Ty E


jervaise brooke hamster said...

Old geezers lusting after gorgeous sexy young girls is THE most natural and normal thing in the world but people are in denial about that because of the hideously sexually repressed hell-on-earth that we`ve unfortunately created for ourselves.

eddie lydecker said...

I cant believe Catherine Wagener snuffed it last year, the slag was only 58.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Principal photography took place in September and October of 1970, at that time Catherine Wagener was 18 (at the absolute pinnacle and peak of her physical attractiveness and desirability), Jeanne Goupil was 20 at the time of filming (only 2 years past her peak), what a couple of stunning little darlin`s they were, i`d have loved to have buggered those 2 birds senseless 42 years ago...WOW.

Phantom of Pulp said...

An incredible move on the nature of youth corruption and corrupting.