Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blu-ray Review: KILLER NUN (1979)


Label: Blue Underground
Region Code: All
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 88 mins
Video: 16:9 Widescreen  (1.85:1)
Audio: English, Italian DTS-HD Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, English for Italian Version
Director: Giulio Berruti
Cast: Anita Ekberg, Joe Dallesandro, Lou Castel, Alida Valli, Paola Morra

Synopsis: Legendary Swedish sex bomb Anita Ekberg (La Dolce Vita) stars as Sister Gertrude, a cruel nun who discovers depraved pleasure in a frenzy of drug addiction, sexual degradation and sadistic murder. Joe Dallesandro (Flesh for Frankenstein), Lou Castel (A Bullet for the General), Alida Valli (Suspiria) and the luscious Paola Morra (Behind Convent Walls) co-star in this notorious 'Nunsploitation' based on actual events that took place in a Central European country not many years ago!

The Film: Could it be that this is my first entry into the nunsploitation sub-genre? I think it is. Killer Nun is a title I've long heard of and now being able to sit down and watch the damn thing I think it may have been a case of expecting maybe a bit too much. A weird little film starring one-time sex goddess Anita Ekberg as Sister Gertrude - a nun slash nurse at a psychiatric center who is none-too-slowly becoming unhinged from reality as she spirals down a path of morphine addiction, seduction and murder. Director Berruti doesn't seem to really know what kind of film he's looking to make, there's the exploitative elements one would assume with nunsploitation but it's never quite sleazy enough with only hints at lesbianism - I wanted more - I'm a perv what can I say? Ekberg while a bit older here is still a striking woman from the top down if you know what I mean but she just doesn't commit to the full-on sleaziness this role demands, what she does do quite excellently is portray the madness of Sister Gertrude when given the opportunity, she's got some serious problems. I would have liked to see the film be more of a character study such as William Lustig's Maniac but like I say the film tries to be too much at once and yet not enough ever. We get the sleazy but not sleazy enough nunsploitation, a bit of character study and even some Italian-style Giallo murder-mystery but like everything else it's not fine pointed enough to be successful at any of 'em in my opinion.

Don't get me wrong the film is pretty entertaining all around, visually it's attractively shot  and it's difficult to not enjoy Ekberg's performance as an morphine-addicted nun unraveling before your very eyes but it lacks a certain something. The are gruesome, there's some nice atmosphere and thankfully gorgeous co-star Paolo Morra disrobes several times throughout the film much to my delight. The drug-induced hallucinations are fantastic and when Ekberg loses her shit and stomps a patients dentures into oblivion I laughed my ass off, that was a bit over-the-top but you gotta love it. 

Blu-ray: Blue Underground presents the film newly remastered from the original negative fully restored in high definition. It's a very nice transfer from a near flawless print. The natural grain is lovingly intact and the image has some nice depth to it at times. Black levels are decent and the 1080p is pleasingly crisp and detailed. Likewise the DTS-HD MA Italian and English audio tracks are crisp and clear if not particularly dynamic, a very nice presentation from Blue Underground.

Special features include a poster and still gallery, theatrical trailer and a fourteen minute interview with director Giulio Berruti conducted in Italian with English subtitles. It's a great watch as he recounts working with Ekberg and filming in an actual monastery while trying to hide the true nature of the film from the priests, fun stuff.

Special Features:
From the Secret Files of the Vatican (13:41) 16:9
Theatrical Trailer (2:56) 16:9
Poster and Still Gallery

Verdict: As an exploitation film I don't think Killer Nun (1979) quite lives up to it's legend, it's a bit middle of the road and doesn't define itself enough for my taste. If it had gone more in the direction of out n' out sleazy nunspoitation I would be ecstatic or if it had gone the way of a full tilt character study of a drug-addicted nun spiraling out of control but as it stands its still a nice slice of sleazy exploitation with some nice kills, depraved visuals, sexy women and some arty leanings but its just a bit too tame for my tastes. Not a great film, it's a renter and maybe a buy for the more determined Italian exploitation nut.  
3.5 outta 5