Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Killer Nun (1978)

Director: Giulio Beruti

Starring: Anita Ekberg, Paola Morra, Joe Dallesandro

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: From the secret files of the Vatican!

Plot: A demented nun sliding through morphine addiction into madness, whilst presiding over a regime of lesbianism, torture and death. Sister Gertrude is the head nurse/nun in a general hospital, whose increasingly psychotic behavior endangers the staff and patients around her.

My Rating: 6.5

Would I watch it again? Yeah.

Part of the Nunsploitation Project (July & August 2013). Click here for more naughty nun insanity!

Yeah! It's the first Nunsploitation flick I've reviewed!

I've been meaning to watch this for a few years now. I've seen a couple of nunsploitation pictures in the past (both better than this one) and I really enjoyed them. I like what they bring to the table. THE KILLER NUN has got all the right ingredients for a great night at the movies - A KILLING FUCKING NUN! Lesbian Nuns! Nun violence, nun gore, nun boobs! And it was made by Italians in the 70s! What else do you need to be compelled to watch this movie?

Here we see nuns in their natural habitat:

The story's not too bad. On one hand, it's a film about a killer nun. On the other, it's about a renegade, junkie nun who loves the morphine and slowly loses her sanity. They play it very well. It's quite like an Italian Giallo movie with a religious setting. We get a nice little twist at the end and, although you kind of suspect it - they do give you clues throughout which is kind of neat and novel. It's just not enough to save this picture which, for the most part, just sits there limp. It's nearly as sterile and dull as the Catholic hospital it's set in.  But it's also stayed with me and I often go to it to show friends a 'best of' going from scene to scene, choosing the wild moments.

Ekberg's not aging well...she looks like Herbert Lom in drag!

If you cut a few scenes here and there you'd have a much leaner, campier picture. The camp factor is solely attributed to Ekberg's nearly over-the-top performance. As if that weren't enough, there are scenes where her makeup is caked on. Just check out those eyes!

She's got that Joan Crawford camp going on that's pretty funny with the right crowd. About 20 minutes into the film she's run out of morphine. The doctor of the hospital has refused to prescribe her any more so she takes a stolen ring into the big city to hock and she's dressed to the nines. She stops off at a lounge where she lights up a smoke, orders a drink and starts an inner dialogue about who'd she'd fuck from all of the three men in the room. Here's what's on the menu...

"Too Latin for my taste"

"Ah, a beard! I like beards. But the woman must be his wife. Forget it."

"Ahhh. He's rather attractive. Why don't you look this way?"

She decides on the last fella, does a little non-verbal flirting, leaves the joint, making sure he's following, and leads him inside the entrance of an apartment building where she seduces him. They fuck, clothes on, standing up. It lasts all of one minute. Apparently, that's all she needs. Here's the after-face:

Besides a fun ten minute sequence of her doing all kinds of nuns-don't-normaly-do-this-kind-of-shit I have no fucking clue as to what this has to do with the story except she needed to score some dope.

Here's a little somethin' for the ladies...

Don't touch it or you'll go blind!

There is one scene that I found disturbing and that's when Sister Gertrude (Ekberg) flips her wig, takes an elderly female patient's false teeth and stomps on them for no fucking reason. The old lady is totally distraught and you really feel for her. All of the patients look authentic to the point that they seem to be real people and not actors. But then some could also argue that actors are not real people...

I normally love composer Alessandro Alessandroni's (and if I remember correctly, if you've watched a Spaghetti Western and you hear whistling in the score, he's the whistler - he didn't tons of 'em) scores but this one is all over the place. For the most part, it's shit. Whenever there's violence on the way or Sister Gertrude is losing her marbles, he gives us this hideously bad penny slide whistle theme with lots of vibrato to make it sound like it's a Theremin. The trouble is, it's fucking obvious it's not a Theremin and it sounds like the toy that it truly is. Laughable. Absolutely laughable. The gay-ass music he plays during her romp to the city is weak but largely because it would've been better suited to a European film from the late 60s comedy than this one.

Alessandroni does have a moment of brilliance. When Gertrude's made it back to the hospital after her city-sex adventure, she's got the dope and she's ready to trip; a trip that ends in a brutal murder. The music you hear in the trailer is what you get here and it's a fantastic marriage of imagery and music. The music really elevates the sequence and it's a standout for me.

Shootin' up for Jesus!

Gertrude's got a hot lesbian nun for a roommate, Sister Mathieu, who's got a thing for Gertrude. Naturally, we've got to have some nun T&A. It really adds to the picture but it's not enough to save it. I mean seriously. You expect more hot lesbian action when you watch a flick with nuns in it, right?

That bush is big enough to run for President of the United States!

There are a few kills once you get a third into the picture. And some of the kills are pretty cool. One patient gets his head bashed in with a lamp and then dropped, head first, out of a fourth story window. Another is stabbed in the face with pins. One gets suffocated with cotton jammed in the mouth. Like the nudity, it does add to the picture but it's not enough to save it.

It sounds like a fun movie, right? It's the kind of film that's far more entertaining describing it than watching it. It just sits there sometimes. I was stoked at the plot and that it's all compressed into 82 short minutes. Nope. It's 82 long minutes. After the first ten I was starting to wander. Not a good sign. And I was ready for this film, too. Take out the scenes I've described and you're left with slow, static and sterile scenes that drag the picture down. It's the kind of thing that makes you glad you didn't join the nunnery or monastery or whatever they call it. Unless, of course, you're a woman who digs her hot lesbian nun sex up close and personal. Now THAT'S a habit I could get into. Ahahahahahahaha.

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