This is huge news for hardcore film nerds. Shudder, the streaming service that specializes in horror, has made what has long been thought impossible possible — it is currently streaming Ken Russell‘s The Devils. Long withheld by the studio in the United States, The Devils stars Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave in a movie that was lambasted in its time as being blasphemous for its caustic portrayal of religious hysteria. Of course, the film isn’t sacrilegious and outrage The Devils sparked was in and of itself a case of religious hysteria. But Warner Bros. didn’t stand behind Russell’s film, cutting it for a very limited American release and never issuing it on home video. Thankfully over the past few years it has made its rounds with a number of repertory screenings but still has never been made widely available for people who don’t live in major cities with access to art house theaters. Until today.
People from myself to Guillermo Del Toro have been banging the drum for Warner Bros. to unleash The Devils on the public and until today it was just a dream. Thanks to Shudder, it’s now a reality. You can go to Shudder’s site and sign up for a free trial today and watch this movie that has been wrongly maligned and withheld from audiences for decades. The Devils is a powerful, thoughtful piece of filmmaking that is critical of those who use religious fervor for personal gain, and not a blasphemous screed against the faithful. If you disagree with me, I’ll burn you at the stake.
The synopsis for Ken Russell’s The Devils:
Directed by Ken Russell, The Devils, follows the rise and fall of Urbain Grandier (played by Oliver Reed), a 17th-century Roman Catholic priest executed for witchcraft following alleged possessions in Loudun, France. Alongside Reed, Vanessa Redgrave, plays a sexually repressed, hunchbacked nun that finds herself at the center of the accusations against Grandier. Russell’s controversial film was partly based on the 1952 book The Devils of Loudon by Aldous Huxley and also draws inspiration from the play 1960 The Devils-which was based on Huxley’s book.