Judge David Johnson has a nun joke for you: What do you call a nun who sleepwalks? A roaming Catholic!
From bride of Christ to slave of Satan!
In this contribution to the much-beloved genre of "nunsploitation," director Gilberto Solares contributes this Spanish inquisition into the perversion of a good-hearted nun by Satan himself, played here by your fifth-grade social studies teacher in a cheap Halloween costume.
Facts of the Case
Dear Sister Maria (Cecilia Pezet). She's a gentle, kind young nun working in a Mexican convent. When she's not meandering the idyllic countryside helping people, she's counseling her fellow sisters in Christ.
And then one day Lucifer appears, tempting Maria with the sins of the flesh, urging her to give in to her forbidden passions. Maria, of course, initially resists. But as Lucifer continues to wear at her, she gradually gives herself over to her basest desires. These include seducing and making out with her butch-looking nun friends, seducing and making out with an underage teenage boy, violently stabbing some innocents to death, and eventually leading her fellow nuns to a good-time, old-fashioned orgy.
What is it about those nuns? Well, according to infamous nunsploitation director Nigel Wingrove, the allure of the genre is the fact that these women are cloistered, shut off from society, and taught to restrict their passions. In a way, he says, it's like the women-in-prison movies.
Solares's tribute to this take on the genre is Sexorcista Satanico Pandemonioum, a tale designed to shock (and titillate?). His lead actress, Pezet, is rarely on screen fully clothed, and there are a few fairly provocative violent scenes. Though the film is certainly geared to be exploitative, there is more at play here than getting nuns disrobed and pawing at each other. Solares is exploring what effect human desires would have on a person who chooses to contain them, and how an interferer—in this case the big L, Lucifer himself—could push that person over the edge. Lucifer, though a bit goofy-looking in his budget outfit, is flush with temptation, and Solares even includes the only plot device that would make sense: an apple.
The reason this film works is the gradual nature of Maria's descent into depravity. Despite what the disc case artwork would have you believe (it shows a shrieking nun tearing open her dress to reveal hellfire and a leering Satan within), Sexorcista Satanico Pandemonium is not a fast-paced splurge of salacious imagery. Solares builds his story and ensures that Maria slowly takes the bait. And once she arrives at that dark place, well, yeah, then things start getting nutty. The gratuitous stripping commences, the lesbian encounters flame on, and the seduction of a young boy—ickily—begins.
Icky is right. Solares almost lost me with his lucid depiction of statutory rape. Maria, so consumed now by the craziness Lucifer has instilled in her, becomes infatuated with a young kid from the village. Her obsession culminates in her slinking, fully nude, into the boy's bed to get it on, and when he resists, she starts in with the killing. This entire scene is explicit, and the gore effects are surprisingly effective. Solares allows his camera to stay on the action; the only quick cuts are from Maria's blade.
One of the final scenes, where Maria realizes the bitter fruit of her deal with the Devil, is both shocking and cheesy. It happens as Maria makes it back to her convent in time to witness a nun orgy. That's right: a nun orgy. Before your little hearts get all a-twitter, let me assure this not a late-night soft-core kind of orgy, but more of the dancing to corny music, gorging on fruit, caressing orgy. However, the fact that these are nuns cavorting in this wanton hedonism makes for the shock factor. Or perhaps it was disturbing because it was so cheesy. Regardless, it worked for me, and proved to be an appropriate penultimate scene and the payoff for Maria's tangle with evil. The final scene, which I won't spoil here, is a twist that plays more like a qualifier. Some may feel betrayed; others, like me, will like it. This is sure: it changes the entire film.
I have reviewed many releases by Mondo Macabro, and each one is a fine testament to the will of this distribution company to put out solid treatments of films they so obviously enjoy. Sexorcista Satanico Pandemonium is no exception. This flick looks great, newly transferred from the 1973 negative into a pristine 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. The picture is dirt free, and the colors are exceptionally strong. Lucifer's blood-red cape leaps off the screen! Sound comes courtesy of a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix that is adequate, but not immersive, even when decode with Dolby Pro Logic II.
Extras are substantial. An interview with Adolfo Solares, the director's son and cowriter for the film, is hefty and revealing. In typical Mondo Macabro style, supplemental genre material is included, this time an interview with the aforementioned Nigel Wingrove about the history of nunsploitation. Wingrove's own movie, Visions of Ecstasy, was banned for blasphemy. An image gallery, previews, and a load of background notes finish you off.
While not a tour de force of provocative imagery and situations, Sexorcista Satanico Pandemonium constructs its story methodically before laying the smackdown on those c-r-r-r-r-azy nuns. Fans of the genre will likely find more value from this film than the casual exploitation hog.
Not guilty. The accused is sent back to the convent. And lay off the orgies!
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