A.k.a. SUOR OMICIDI
Sister Gertrude (Anita Ekberg, LA DOLCE VITA) works in a retirement home. She has a good reputation among both the elderly patients and doctor Poirret (DON'T LOOK NOW; THE BLOODSTAINED SHADOW), with whom she has worked closely for the last ten years.
But Gertrude has been hiding an addiction to morphine ever since she given the drug while having a tumour removed years earlier.
The friendship between her and the doctor is compromised when Gertrude's drug habit starts to affect her attitude towards patients - she tramples their false teeth into pieces, that kind of thing. The medic and the sister have more than a couple of verbal disagreements, and before you know it Gertrude has persuaded the home's board of directors to give Poirret the push.
Enter Joe Dallesandro (BLOOD FOR DRACULA; FLESH FOR FRANKENSTIEN) as the new doctor - Roland - who arrives to the news of a suicide among the patients.
During a game of "truth" one afternoon, Gertrude discovers that the patients think she murdered their friend. It seems only her roommate, sexy nun Sister Mathieu (Paola Morra, BEHIND CONVENT WALLS) is there to support Gertrude, offering to destroy incriminating evidence and even to sleep with our troubled anti-heroine.
More murders follow, as well as a hint of lesbianism, and Ekberg chewing up the scenery as she slides into full-on drug-crazed dementia.
Guilio Berruti's film is more of a character study than your typical nunsploitation titles. It doesn't concern itself so much with self-flagellating nuns or blasphemous imagery for the sake of it, preferring instead to follow closely Gertrude's downward spiral of self-loathing and paranoia.
On this level it works quite well, despite the clumsy dubbing detracting from what is otherwise a fairly credible script.
The plot's whodunit denouement is handled badly in comparison. Although on paper the idea of deliberately editing each murder set-piece so as to leave the viewer questioning what they saw may sound novel, it's actually a really obvious device that gives away the "twist" endiong far too soon.
Visually, KILLER NUN is an attractive film - not only for the voluptuous twosome of Ekberg and Morra (who get it on off-screen, sadly) - but also for the European locations and the cold convent that the bulk of the action takes place in.
The cast is generally pleasing to watch too. Ekberg quite rightly steals the show. It's just a shame that Dallesandro and the excellent Alida Valli (LES YEUX SANS VISAGE; SUSPIRIA) are so criminally underused. And the fact they've dubbed over Dallesandro's New York drawl is unforgivable!
While the film's levels of nudity and violence may be a lot lower than what you'd expect of a film often cited as being amongst the "video nasties" (it never made the DPP's official list), KILLER NUN still managesd to raise eyebrows here and there.
Overall, a good little film with a mean edge and a seriousness of intent that is rarely seen in films of it's ilk.
Blue Underground excel yet again with a fully uncensored, anamorphic widescreen transfer of the film. Although minor grain is evident and there is occasional softness of image, the video quality is generally terrific.
Audio is presented in mono and is fine, consistent throughout. The English dubbing is woeful admittedly - and there's a couple of scenes toward the end where the only remaining footage utilises the French soundtrack (BU have subtitled these scenes) that made me wish the whole film was in French with English subtitles.
A static menu page benefits from being accompanied by the film's very cool score. The film has twentry chapters. And so, on to the extras:
First up is a fourteen minute interview with co-writer/director Berruti. He speaks about his background as an assistant director, the film's cast, censorship ... it's all interesting stuff, with Englsih subtitles for those who - like me - are not fluent in Italian.
The theatrical trailer is a good watch, but doesn't do the film justice. It's long too, at almost three minutes in length.
Next is a poster/stills gallery, which is the usualy stuff. It's interesting to note how the numerous video covers and theatrical posters shown highlight how terrible BU's DVD cover artwork is!
While not exactly a vintage BU effort, I'd be surprised if anyone manages a better release of KILLER NUN. As it stands, this release is perfectly acceptable and the film is better than you may have remembered ...
Review by Stu Willis
|Released by Blue Underground|
|Not Rated - Region 1 (NTSC)|
|see main review|