Monday, September 17, 2012
Walt Davis’ EVIL COME, EVIL GO, movie review by Travis Hedge Coke
“‘Vengeance is mine,’ sayeth the Lord, but I’ll help.” – Sarah Jane Butler
Sister Sarah Jane Butler is on a mission of purification. A mission from her own personal God to rid the world of pleasurable sex, evil men, and to get her own television preaching show, and to do this, she will freeload, steal, cajole, pick up men for sex, and stab them with knives because they are evil. She’s sort of like Robert Mitchum’s character in Night of the Hunter, if Night of the Hunter was a roughie sex picture. The movie is an imperfect blend of John Waters and Doris Wishman, where the very nature of the movie prevents much of the nudity (of which there is plenty) and simulated sex from being more than briefly attractive. But, more than the hardcore nudity, the fact several couples blush and stretch and smile during sex makes the difference here, separating Evil Come, Evil Go from the typical slasher. While some of the sexual encounters do feature cocky, rotten people, most of them are happy people trying to have happy sex.
Imagine watching Doris Wishman’s Night of the Hunter, then, or a version of Deep Red that has no functional moral barometer. Is this a porno incompetently rendered a turn off by brutal murder and hilarious but painful satire? Are the fake sex and displayed genitals all a lure so horny punters will hear the preached word of Sister Sarah’s weird God? Horror movie or comedy? It’s shot and edited as if a documentary, and the delivery (sometimes overdubbed) sounds so staged, but it’s the kind of staged you often get by pointing a camera and interviewing someone or listening in as a street preacher rails. For all that kitchen sink Realism, there is a troubadour who shows up periodically to sing us through a moment and balladize Sarah Jane’s great work.
As with a Wishman picture, you want to watch this with an audience, more so because of its potentially embarrassing material. It’s an audience participation movie; a movie shaped each time by its audience. I’ve seen it twice with audiences and was fascinated by who closed their eyes for the (just offscreen) stabbings and who avoided the screen when there was a penis in prime focus. I’ve averted my eyes knowing Sister Sarah’s acolyte is about to betray her girlfriend, who is totally confident she has saved her beloved from the insane Sarah. This is a movie designed for reactions; it matters little if it gets the intended reactions, so long as you react. Turn up the volume, turn off the movie, avert your eyes, rewind to rewatch, even if you find yourself quoting it months later.