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The Devils

The Devils (1971)
Ken Russell

Aldous Huxley (Novel)
Ken Russell
John Whiting (Play)

Vanessa Redgrave
Oliver Reed
Dudley Sutton
Max Adrian
Gemma Jones
Murray Melvin
Michael Gothard
Georgina Hale
Brian Murphy
Review by Sven Soetemans

These priests and nuns are depraved!!,

Ken Russell is a very important and versatile director, responsible for several milestones such as “Altered States”, “Crimes of Passion” and “Savage Messiah”. And his “The Devils” in particular is quite a fundamental cult landmark as it meant the launch of the popular ‘nunsploitation’ horror sub-genre.

All the films involving naughty nuns (mostly European productions) are worth watching if you’re a cult-fan, but Russell’s film easily remains the most remarkable one. The Devils is quite a brutal film, often featuring very shocking and repulsive images. Highlight of this (if you can call it that) is a violent act of exorcism, performed on a deformed nun played by an impressive Vanessa Redgrave. The premise of this film was based on a bestselling novel and actually is a little overwrought.

The Devils demands total attention perhaps the unusual topics make it only accessible to true cinema-buffs and fans of unpleasant historical epics. It handles about a convent of sexually frustrated nuns and their desires towards the handsome young priest Graindier (Oliver Reed). Mother Superior doesn’t manage to win the heart of Graidier and seeks revenge when he falls in love with another girl. She’s offered the chance for this when Cardinal Richelieu himself wants to eliminate Graindier for obtaining too much power and influence in rural France.

There are some boring parts but these are widely made up by some ultra-impressive sequences, like the scene in which Mother Superior has a vision of Christ’s crucifixion blend with her own sexual fantasies about Father Graindier.

The flawless acting performances by Oliver Reed and Vanessa bring this film to a higher dimension. Especially Reed is terrific. I already thought highly of this charismatic actor but, after seeing the Devils, he’s truly immortal. Still, the very best aspect about this production is the breathtaking set-design by Derek Jarman. A must see, ladies and gentlemen!

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70s Films

A tour through the great and not so great films of the seventies The seventies saw a huge change in styles and genres from the advent of the slasher horror movies like Halloween and the blockbuster summers films started by Jaws. More...

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