After some very stylish opening credits (designed by Jake West, RAZORBLADE SMILE), we learn that Sister Elizabeth is the acting Mother Superior of a convent in the south of England. A couple of nuns there whisper to each other, and we discover that Elizabeth has been locked in her room for having impure thoughts.

The nuns debate whether Elizabeth has been possessed by the Devil. Unsure of what the cause of her condition may be, they send for Father Henry and his trusty manservant Richard (Moses Rockman, THE THIRD NAME) - who we're first introduced to while he's humping local girl Emily Booth (EVIL ALIENS) up against a tree!

It turns out that Elizabeth has been driven mad by her own conflicted sexual desires, which have been further compounded by listening to the sexual exploits of her fellow nuns during confession. Elizabeth has purgatorial visions where demons and angels try to entice her in separate directions - Eileen Daly (CRADLE OF FEAR) being the standout of the entire film as the voluptuous Repression. Even Mary Magdalene (Kristina Bill, DUPLICITY) turns up to give her thoughts on the sins of the flesh.

Father Henry, meantime, is shocked at first to be greeted with open hostility from the elderly nuns, while Richard seems rather pleased by the amount of young female flesh in the vicinity.

As Elizabeth's madness deepens and her visions become more intense, the whole convent slowly becomes enveloped in a state of sexual delirium - cue lots of lesbianism, female masturbation, phallic crucifixes and so on.

Nigel Wingrove, founder of Salvation films, directed this after his earlier short VISIONS OF ECSTASY was banned by the BBFC on grounds of blasphemy. Clearly relishing in the publicity, Wingrove tried to upset sensibilities again with this TV movie-type variant on Ken Russell's superior THE DEVILS. He succeeded in many circles, and SACRED FLESH has kept cropping up in upper-class newspaper articles and on stuffy BBC2 culture shows ever since it's inception in 2000.

But is it any good? Well, it has its moments. The photography is pedestrian and the acting is alarmingly theatrical. The script is risible but at least it's kept lean enough to give way to gratuitous sex or nudity at regular intervals. All of which is filmed with impeccable style.

There's plenty of blasphemous images to upset devout Christians here, but to anyone else it's all a bit laughable. Wingrove's naive insistence of "shocking" us with scenes of nuns engaging in lesbian sex is all very schoolboyish. Still, mustn't grumble when the cast are this good-looking ...

Originally cut by 25 seconds upon it's domestic release in the UK (to excise a scene of a woman masturbating in close-up), SACRED FLESH is now uncut - at least this screener disc appeared to be!

The film is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio and has been 16x9 enhanced. The transfer is very solid, with sharp bright images throughout. As you'd expect, the 2.0 English audio is equally good.

The film can be accessed via 6 chapters, by way of a static scene-selection menu page.

Extras for SACRED FLESH include:

A trailer that runs for around 90 seconds, and does a decent job of making the film look stylish, lurid and intentionally offensive.

A 30-second teaser trailer of significantly lesser impact.

8 pages of original storyboards, which are largely eye-grabbing colourful comic-book type etchings.

Five poster reproductions under the guise of "Publicity Materials".

An extra listed as Behind-The-Scenes, which unfortunately is just 23 photographs taken from on the set.

It's a shame but the commentary track that's listed on the back cover (and already available on the R1 Heretic Films release) was not included on this screener disc. Whether or not it will materialise on the official release, I don't know.

Review by Stu Willis

Released by Redemption Films
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review