This chapter investigates the genre of Ken Russell's The Devils (1973). Nowadays, it is common to see The Devils lumped in with horror programming, and while identifying the film as belonging to the genre is by no means inaccurate, there is a lot more to say about the film when it comes to classifying it. In many ways, The Devils possibly ends up as a horror film (as opposed to being designed as one), and the more extreme, graphic elements of the film crowd out the other aspects, at least from the general viewer's perspective. But the film very much remains, in essence, as it begins—a historical drama, not being eclipsed by, but rather dovetailing neatly with, its horror elements, which are something of a natural by-product. As such, the largely unnoticed sophistication of the film marked an evolution in screen horror. Rather than setting out to make a horror film or trying to box the film in in terms of genre, Russell simply set about telling his story here, and the genre latterly assigned to The Devils appears to be due to its title as much as its content.
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