Appellate Judge Tom Becker preferred that Debbie Reynolds exploitation film, The Sinning Nun.
See how sin manages to penetrate everywhere!
I was raised Catholic—Irish Catholic, at that. I went to Catholic school. My grandparents had clergy people as friends.
And yet, I never thought of nuns in a sexual way. Even during puberty, when I could eroticize a cantaloupe, I never thought of nuns as carnal creatures. I never imagined orgies at a convent, or repressed lust, or sado-masochism…in short, the whole concept of nunsploitation evaded me until I was an adult and started checking out foreign exploitation films.
I haven't seen a whole lot of nunsploitation—Killer Nun and Mark of the Devil Part 2 come to mind, as well as a gray copy VHS of Ken Russell's high-minded nunsploitation epic The Devils. None of these really floated my boat, and The Sinful Nuns of St. Valentine haven't exactly made me sea-worthy either.
Our story takes place during the Inquisition, that happiest of eras in the nunsploitation universe. Esteban (Paolo Malco, The House by the Cemetery) has been accused of heresy and murder. His accuser is the father of his lover, Lucita. Dad so hates the idea of Esteban and Lucita being together that he's locked his daughter away in a convent; evidently, having her boyfriend burned at the stake is an acceptable Plan B.
Esteban is wounded, so he hides out in the convent to be close to Lucita (Jenny Tamburi, The Psychic); of course, the other nuns don't know about this, including Lucita's sleazy novice roommate, who keeps trying to force herself on the poor, frightened heterosexual.
After an impromptu flogging engineered by the wacky Abbess (Francois Prevost, Spirits of the Dead), Lucita's roomie turns up dead, stabbed to death right outside the cell she shared with Lucita. A local Inquisitor pops by, does a little makeshift torture on Lucita, and the girl is pronounced guilty and sentenced to be burned.
Now, it's up to Esteban to recuperate from his injuries and save his lady love…but will the sinful shenanigans at the convent prevent him from coming to her rescue?
Probably not. Despite its lurid title and antecedents, The Sinful Nuns of St. Valentine is exploitation-lite. Instead of a full-on assault of sex and sacrilege, it's just one tepid abomination after the other.
While nunsploitation is a subgenre powered entirely on sleaze, The Sinful Nuns of St. Valentine is so chaste, it could probably be shown on network television with minimal cuts and masking. The film is virtually devoid of the lifeblood of nunsploitation, nun-on-nun sex. These ladies apparently took their vows of chastity pretty seriously; good for them, lousy for those looking to plunk down coin for soft-core convent doings. The other major egg in the nunsploitation basket, sadism, isn't particularly well represented either. We get the whipping scene, Lucita hanging by her wrists, and some bizarre business near the end in which a bunch of nuns are walled up in a giant room, which causes a couple of them to pull their tops off and slap each other. That's pretty much it. Nudity is confined to some uninspired topless shots—no one goes "full frontal"—and other than the Abbess, no one seems to have the sorts of unhealthy desires that would make a film like this worth seeking out.
Apparently, the filmmakers took a vow of poverty, as this is one cheap-looking production. If there were reams of revolting nonsense going on, it wouldn't matter, but when things are so dull that you actually notice the production design of an exploitation film, you know it's time to check out.
The Blu-ray from Redemption looks decent enough, though there's a fair amount of damage to the print. Audio is a reasonable-sounding PCM mono track in Italian, with optional English subtitles. Other than trailers for other Redemption releases, there are no supplements.
A boring trek behind convent walls, and a miss from Redemption.
Not guilty, which is completely the opposite of what it should be.
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