Ken Russell’s film “The Devils” is currently playing on Shudder. Naturally, as a proponent of free speech, I was drawn to this film, as I am a sucker for anything that is banned and or controversial. This film originally received a “X” rating and was subsequently banned here and in the UK. It has never received an uncut release (except in bootleg versions), and is still difficult to obtain, even censored.
I was disappointed to learn that even Shudder’s version omits some of the more controversial scenes and once I looked up what they omitted…holy shit…I would LOVE to see an uncut version! That said, this is a BRILLIANT film. Simply brilliant. And a BIZARRE film at that! That’s putting it mildly, really. Russell also made ‘Altered States‘ if that gives you any indication, but from the opening scene all the way to the credits, ‘The Devils’ is as brilliant as it is surreal – like an acid trip.
It’s billed as a horror film but really, it’s much more than that. What makes this film so horrifying, you realize, is that it’s all true! As brutal and grotesque as this film is, and trust me, (this is one fucked up movie), it becomes even more so when you realize it’s all historical…this film left me thinking about it, long after, in the middle of the night, when I kept replaying scenes over in my head, particularly the ending, which is just goddamn brutal, and haunting.
The editing on this film is magnificent and plays on your subconscious, hence the LSD reference above.
Without delving too much into the plot (17th century France and sacrilege/heresy), I would suggest either just diving in and watching it yourself, or Googling it and looking up the history that the film is based on – both are shocking, literally. Seriously, do some research, it’s crazy!
Again, what makes this film so goddamn terrifying is that it’s all true, even documents from the event still exist and they’re nuts! These characters all existed and the events actually happened. I realize I’m repeating myself, but once you watch it, you’ll understand why. Truth is, after all, stranger than fiction.
A word of caution: this film is not for the squeamish or easily offended! If you’re devoutly religious I would avoid it if I were you…
That said, I challenge you to watch it and NOT ask yourself: what the fuck…Oh! And Roger Ebert hated it! HA!