One of the most terrifying movies ever made, "The Devils" is based on Aldous Huxley's "The Devils of Loudon," itself a true story.
Filmed on surreal sets, with a large budget and over-the-top scenes of sadism and sacrilege, this is definitely not the kind of movie studios make today. Only in 1971 (the same year that produced Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange") could a film this disturbing be such a big release.
It's actually infinitely more gruesome than similar grade-Z exploitation witch-hunt movies such as. "Mark of the Devil"
In 1643, as the black death terrorizes the populace of France, an overly libidinous priest (Reed) attempts to protect the city of Loudon from a drive by the French state to rip down its well-fortified walls and, ultimately, destroy the city.
Despite his politically precarious situation, Reed nonetheless beds the daughters of some important men in the community, planting the seeds of his own destruction and for wild accusations of witchcraft and demonic possession.
Redgrave plays a sadistic, hunchbacked nun with a crush on Reed who becomes the French government's chief accuser in its drive to destroy Reed. Michael Gothard is on hand, playing the super-sadistic Father Barre, a church-sanctioned torturer and witchfinder.
This is one of Russell's all-time greatest movies and, despite being so well-made, definitely isn't for all tastes.
Cut to avoid an X-rating.
Russell made some other horror films, including the incredible "Lair of the White Worm" with Hugh Grant and the less-than-you'd-expect "Gothic."