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’The Devils’: Ken Russell’s Banned 1971 Religious Horror Film Finally Gets Streaming Release

The once X-rated film stars Vanessa Redgrave as a nun lusting after the town priest.

the devils horror classic banned x-rated

Vanessa Redgrave and Oliver Reed in Ken Russell’s “The Devils”

Blasphemers, rejoice! For the first time ever, you can now stream “The Devils,” the 1971 Ken Russell film that critic Judith Crist called a “grand fiesta for sadists and perverts.”

When “The Devils” was released in 1971, it faced harsh criticism and censorship due to its Holy Trinity of intense violence, sexuality, and religious themes. It received and X-rating in the U.K. and the U.S., until a heavily edited version was eventually released. Until recently, film historians thought the original cut was lost forever. Now, cinephiles can stream a re-assembled cut on the horror streaming platform, Shudder.

READ MORE: Can You Make a Great War Movie With a PG-13 Rating? Christopher Nolan Will Try With ‘Dunkirk’

Set in 17th century France, “The Devils” stars Vanessa Redgrave as a hunchbacked nun named Sister Jeanne who lusts after the town priest, Father Grandier (Oliver Reed). When Sister Jeanne inadvertently accuses Grandier of witchcraft, the town sets out on a gruesome witch hunt. Among the most notorious censored scenes were a nun orgy that culminated in a sexual assault on a statue of Christ, and Sister Jeanne masturbating with Father Grandier’s charred leg bone.

The film is widely considered one of the most controversial films of all time.

If ever there were a reason to start a free Shudder trial, “The Devils” would be it.

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