BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
Father, please forgive me. I have sinned and actually enjoyed a nunploitation flick last night. I know I am not supposed to (just like I know I’m not supposed to touch myself) and I know that this Italian supernatural horror movie is inferior to most films, but damned if this one didn’t creep me out. Full of bizarre sequences that had me covering my crotch in terror, The Other Hell left me with a dirty feeling that no shower could ever cleanse. That’s my confession. Can you ever forgive me? Amen, hallelujah and holy shit!
The Other Hell (released in America as Guardian of Hell) rocks the unholy in an eerie way that few other b-movies do.
While the list of horror movies that it “borrows” from (The Exorcist, Carrie, etc.) is as long as the night itself, the movie manages to carve a niche into the Catholic trappings surrounding it. It’s the story of a convent that has some disturbingly dark things happening within its tortured walls. Babies are boiled. Plastic dolls are hung in the attic. Reproductive organs are removed. Dogs attack the creepy-looking gardener (Franco Garofalo). There are even some moments of telekinesis. Even the score, by Goblin, was stolen from another movie and inserted here.
And then there’s Mother Vincenza (Franca Stoppi from Beyond the Darkness) who doesn’t want anyone snooping around her convent. This includes Father Valerio (Carlo De Mejo) who believes science and religion must work together in order to stop the devil’s increasing influence. And, yeah, the fiery red-eyed beast is lurking all about in the halls of this cold, cold place. Nuns become catatonic. A stigmata takes place for another. Possession. All of it we've seen before, yet somehow it works to build a creepy little atmospheric jewel of the underground.
The bad in the horror movie comes during the middle when the priests and bishops all chat about the devil’s influence. Suddenly, everything comes to a complete standstill. BORING. Hell, even Father Valerio’s investigation of the convent isn’t that interesting. While he does have his own WTF moments in the confessional and later on when he (passionately) kisses a facially deformed child on the lips, he largely just staggers from one room in the possessed convent to the next, searching for signs of Satan's grip. It’s not until he becomes aggressive and starts destroying rooms that his technique becomes interesting. Yeah, throw that shit around! Flip that bed! Teach those crazy nuns a lesson!
But that's one scene.
Most of the enjoyment in watching Severin Film’s presentation of writer/director Bruno Mattei’s film comes from the sheer wickedness of it all. The film is both disturbing AND depraved. Almost every nun befalls some strange supernatural fate and the glowing red eyes of the one behind it all doesn’t help viewers find an illuminating pathway through the dark of the catacombs. This is spooky, unnerving shit. The amazingly realistic practical effects add to the intense atmosphere surrounding this release.
And that twisted opening in which a nun stumbles through the catacombs only to come face to face with insanity itself? Damn. If that doesn’t set the stage for the weird and wild ride that The Other Hell is, then I don’t know what could. It’s a brutal 8-minutes of shock and schlock as a mad nun repeatedly stabs another woman. It’s also completely batshit crazy.
And that’s why I like it so much.
Welcome to The Other Hell. We have cookies.
MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime: 88 mins
Director: Bruno Mattei
Writer: Claudio Fragasso
Cast: Franca Stoppi, Carlo De Mejo, Francesca Carmeno
Tagline: What happens when nuns become possessed by the devil?
Memorable Movie Quote: "The genitals are the door to evil! The vagina, the uterus, the womb; the labyrinth that leads to hell; the devil's tools!"
Theatrical Distributor: Film Concept Group
Release Date: November 1, 1985
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: April 11, 2017
Synopsis: A surprisingly stylized yet undeniably blasphemous orgy of stabbings, stigmata, Satanism, sexual violence and graphic savagery
Home Video Distributor: Severin Films
Available on Blu-ray - April 11, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Region A
Culled from a 35mm print of the film that was recently discovered within the false wall of a Bologna nunnery, The Other Hell looks fantastic! Owning this title is a no-brainer. Severin Films, using the original German negative, have cleaned up the dark transfer and restored some of the censored bits for the film’s HD debut in 1080p. While the film quality in these uncensored nuggets of gore dips a bit, nothing about the film suggests that the remastering job was mishandled. Colors are pure. Shadows are dark (if somewhat murky), and skin tones are quality. The day scenes are vivid and the night scenes are underscored with nice, thick lines. The sound is presented in an English PCM mono audio track.
The audio commentary with Co-Director/Co-Writer Claudio Fragasso is moderated by Freak-O- Rama’s Federico Cadd and provides a nice insight into the film.
If the fantastic reversible cover art is not enough to make you happy, then the interviews Severin Films has included on this blu-ray release will. First up is an interview with actress Franca Stoppi, who plays the mad nun at the center of the film. She talks about the making of the film and her career inside the genre. There’s also an archival interview with director Bruno Mattei and actor Carlo De Nejo. A trailer is included.
- Sister Franca: Interview With Actress Franca Stoppi
- To Hell And Back: Archive Interviews With Director Bruno Mattei and Actor Carlo De Mejo
- Reversible Cover Art