Good Against Evil

Director: Paul Wendkos

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Starting out as a Rosemary's Baby knock-off, Good Against Evil (1977) opens in New York in 1955. A panic-stricken pregnant woman finds herself in the wrong hospital, drugged against her will, attended by a creepy nun who promises only that "it'll soon be all over," with physicians & nurses who take her baby away from her as soon as it is born.

Good Against EvilIn a hallucinatory state she wanders the hospital looking for her infant, encounters a black cat in the hospital stairwell, & falls to her death, while the heavily made-up nun in flying-nun hat watches.

Scar-faced & just naturally creepy Richard Lynch as Mr. Rimmon (named for a Semitic divinity demonized in the Bible) heads the satanic cult that raises Jessica & protects her from any knowledge of her destiny, controlling everything that happens to her in her life.

The story picks up in 1977 in San Francisco, where Jessica (Elyssa Davalos) is a grown woman with a career in fashion design. A good looking nuisance named Andy (closet-case Dack Rambo) damages the bumper of her parked car, & though at first she wants to strangle the uninsured s.o.b., soon they're dating.

When they decide to get married, they select Father Wheatley as their minister, named for occult novelist Dennis Wheatley. Jessica, however, discovers it is impossible for her to approach the sacred altar.

Jessica was concecrated in infancy to the demon Astaroth (named for a Near Eastern goddess) & has to be kept virgin until deflowered by the devil so that she can give birth to a child that will bring chaos to the world.

Sundry "protective" but sinister figures continue to control her life. Andy wasn't part of the plan. The protectors must move quickly to insure Jessica keeps her virginity until the appointed hour.

Andy's role diminishes rather builds, & the stuff that arrives late in the story with Father Kemschler (Dan O'Herlihy) impersonating a better character from The Exorcist isn't well integrated with Jessica's story

Though pretending to be a whole film, the story ends abruptly with no sense of completion, because it was in reality the pilot movie of an unsold series. The dangly ending might've worked anyway if the greater problem hadn't been simply that the story hasn't an ounce of originality.

I can imagine it having been more intriguing if cloying-annoying-cute boyfriend Andy had turned out to be the evil influence, & the merely "evil because he has scars" Richard Lynch had turned out to be the good guy. With that reversal of hero vs villain, all sorts of new "takes" on all these cliches might've surfaced.

As it stands, Good Against Evil is interesting mainly as part of a clutch of telefilms aired in the late 1960s through the 1970s that dealt with satanism & other occult matters, a cycle that seems to have begun with a better Paul Wendkos telefilm, the occult detective yarn Fear No Evil (1969), & pretty much came to a close with his Good Against Evil.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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