Don’t Deliver Us from Evil
(aka “Mais ne nous délivrez pas du mal” or “But don’t deliver us from Evil”)
by Eric Cotenas
Aristocratic Anne (Jeanne Goupil) and middle class Lore (Catherine Wagener) – rebel against their hypocritical provincial upbringings the only way they know how: embracing sin and wickedness. They do so by the usual means learned from a combination of their prurient Catholic school upbringing and pulp magazines by worshiping Satan (they build up a collection of communion wafers and hold a black mass in the disused chapel of Anne’s family chateau) and teasing older men (going from showing off their calves to priests and farmers to stripping down to their underwear for coffee with a motorist whose car breaks down by the chateau). When one of their naughty games gets out of hand and the buildup of reports of their behavior combined with a disappearance draw suspicion from the police, the church, their parents, and the townspeople, Anne and Lore take drastic steps to stay together.
Director and former actor Joël Séria was warned from the start that his debut film’s combination of sex and religion might get the film banned and it was; but not for its sexual or violent content but for its seeming anti-religious bias (Séria went to a Catholic school and he is decidedly unsubtle about religious hypocrisy as a priest not only ogles Anne’s calves during confession but also becomes excited when she confesses to having seen two nuns kissing). Nevertheless, the film was a sensation at Cannes and made it to the UK through distributor Anthony Balch (Bizzare/Secrets of Sex, Horror Hospital). It is somewhat difficult to sympathize with the girls as their parents are more boorish than oppressive and the priests and nuns come off as somewhat cartoonish (and not just through the eyes of the girls during an early sermon about lust) although it could be argued that the deliberation with which the girls carry out most of their acts (be it killing a servants pet birds one at a time and watching his reaction from a hiding place or setting fire to haystacks and distracting a herder to let his cows get away) is in keeping with their reasoned decision to embrace wickedness. It is obvious that things will eventually lead to murder but the film’s ending is quite surprising (especially for the deadpan way in which the girls’ final act is carried out before hysteria breaks out; the liner notes on the DVD mention that the director’s subsequent films have been mostly comedies with some very dark humor). Given the film’s subject matter of the private world of two girls in a stifling conservative and religious setting, DON’T DELIVER US FROM EVIL would make a good double bill with another Mondo Macabro release: the more overtly supernatural Mexican horror film Alucarda.