Bite Size: Evil Come, Evil Go (1972)

The transitional period between softcore and hardcore was a fertile breeding ground for offbeat and idiosyncratic sex film efforts, even if it occasionally makes for tricky tracking of who is responsible for which pieces of weirdness in a sea of uncredited prints and pseudonyms. One such shape shifter was director/performer Walt Davis, who turned in a small but memorable slate of genre hopping, gleefully tasteless entries throughout the 70s, on both sides of the simulated versus unsimulated divide.

Evil Come, Evil Go‘s “Hymn-humming hell cat” is Sister Sarah Jane Butler (Cleo O’Hara), a fire and brimstone sort who has been criss crossing the country street preaching her special form of gospel, believing she has a direct mission from God. Namely, to eliminate pleasurable sex and the men whose “horny, sweet words” and “horny cheating ways” facilitate it.

She cruises bars for lonely men, and when they take her up on her industrial strength come ons, she stabs them to death with her trusty switchblade—Walt Davis himself makes a quick cameo as her first victim, in a truly atrocious pair of patterned overalls. With a scribble of lipstick to pronounce “God is LOVE-not sex” and a washing up, she’s off to the next town to spread the good word.

While panhandling and proselytizing on Hollywood Boulevard, Sarah Jane meets Penny (Sandra Henderson). Lost, lonely, and looking for somewhere to belong after her rich parents sent her away to the coast for being a lesbian, she’s an easy target. Penny soon swears her allegiance to Sarah Jane’s “Sacred Order Of The Sisters Of Complete Subjugation”, and her vows are sealed with some S&M bondage games and a spot of knife play.

It’s not often a sex film opens with a Bible quote, but Cleo O’Hara’s performance as Sarah Jane is in a universe all its own, like a spirited side character from a hicksploitation film dropped into a Los Angeles skin flick. She’s a slick talking, secretly foul mouthed, Bible thumping charlatan who slices the scenery to ribbons. Cleo O’Hara might not be a great actress but she is committed to the bit, regardless if that’s trying to con a vendor out of a hot dog by calling it a “charitable donation” or sentencing hapless men to death for preferring an orgasm rather than listening to her sing hymns in the nude.

Speaking of the sex scenes, they’re an astoundingly indifferent pile of softcore that aren’t the slightest bit concerned with the illusion of the performers’ arousal. The lot is often punctuated with odd camera swirls, and in one memorable instance, accompanied by a sweeping score of 70s game show music. Evil Come, Evil Go is a sex film that isn’t remotely concerned with being sexy. The ugly banality of the skin scenes is punctuated with exaggeratedly sleazy pillow talk and puerile visual puns—a cat wanders into the frame during the lesbian sex scenes— that seem like a career pornographer having a sardonic poke at the hypocrisy of anti-sex moral outrage.

The combination of scuzzy smut and dime store gore —provided by porn legend John Holmes, who also has a credit as an assistant director in addition to make up duty— will likely be an acquired taste for most viewers, particularly in combination with the religious themes. However, Sarah Jane is just as insane as the folk pop theme tune promises, and then some. For fans of exploitation who think they’ve seen every possible permutation of singular strangeness, Evil Come, Evil Go‘s black comedy camp concoction of cultish religious fervor is not to be missed.

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