12 Great Cult Nun Movies That Are Worth Your Time
7. Alucarda (1975)
“They gave their souls to Hell… but the Devil wanted MORE!” . This is a low budget Mexican production that combines some of the essential pieces of the previous released pictures The Devils and the Exorcist, as two girls that live in a convent become possessed by devils.
It mixes various elements and themes that would be considered shocking; including Satanism, demonic possession, murder, exorcism, a black mass orgy, lesbianism, violence, nudity, sacrilegious imagery, defiled religious symbols, a nude girl on a cross, a naked vampire rising from a blood-filled coffin, flagellation, and fires.
The characters in this are rather non-dimensional with the focus being more on the imagery. One of the most unusual aspects of this one has to be the nuns outfits, which resemble a mummies wrap.
Directed by longtime Alejandro Jodorowsky collaborator Juan Lopez Moctezuma, columnist Michael Weldon has described this motion picture as “The strongest, most imaginative, and visual witch movie since Ken Russell’s ‘The Devils’” . He did not receive any subsidies or support from the Mexican film industry because his films were considered radical and subversive, counterculture to the norms of the current society .
So he pushed his film further and this one has political and religious statements against the church and government, displaying the church as the oppressive and persecutory ruler and attempting to create sympathy for the two girls who stray from that faith .
This may actually be considered more part of the horror genre than traditional nunsploitation, but it is considered a favorite among many cult fans. If you like low budget and highly exploitative cinema, then this is a must see.
8. Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun (1977)
This is a West German-Swiss co-production from the infamous director Jesus Franco, who has been referred to as the European Ed Wood. He was known for producing a high volume of low budgeted films, directing somewhere near 200 pictures using various schemes in order to get them done. Sometimes he would be secretly working on a second movie during production of the main one, unbeknownst to the rest of the cast and crew.
The story involves a teenage girl sent to a convent in the Inquisition-era of Portugal. Unfortunately, the convent is being secretly run by a group of Satanists where she is subjected to torture and rape by men, women, and a horned devil. She calls to God for help only to end up in the hands of the Inquisition and tortured and condemned to death. She ends up being sentenced to be burned at the stake just as Joan of Arc was.
This was Franco’s second foray into the nunsploitation subgenre, previously directing The Demons 1972. This one is far superior to his previous motion picture and takes the subject matter much more seriously than the first attempt.
9. Killer Nun (1979)
“From the Secret Files of the Vatican!” . Sister Gertrude (Anita Ekberg) is the head nurse in a hospital that recently had surgery to remove a tumor; her increasingly psychotic behavior may be endangering herself and her patients. She has become addicted to morphine, engaged in lesbian affairs, having casual sex with strangers, is growing violent towards the patients, and may have committed murder.
Its Ekberg’s outstanding performance that drives this, as she increasingly becomes deranged, paranoid and further unhinged. She had previously appeared in La Dolce Vita, War and Peace, 4 for Texas, and Boccacio ‘70.
The exploitative scenes are minimal and the TimeOut film guide has described it as “a dated blend of softcore sleaze, routine blood-letting and explicable coyness” which “stars an over-the-hill Ekberg.” An “excessive scenario” nevertheless has “quaint evasions.” According to this review, “lesbianism is hinted at but not shown!” and “scenes of Ekberg shooting up are filmed with her back to the camera” .
This picture has excellent color and cinematography from Antonio Maccoppi, who had mostly worked on exploitative types of pictures. The title, main character, and great cast add some respectability to this; while the “blood, nude nuns that climb into bed with anybody, and some very psychedelic drug trips accentuate the film.
It’s unfortunate that this was Sister Gertrude’s only adventure, as it would have been great fun to see her back in more schlock like Killer Nun and the Cannibals, or better yet, Killer Nun meets Black Emmanuelle!” .
While this is listed as nunsploitation, it could easily be included in the Giallo subgenre because of the crime and mystery elements.
10. Wet and Rope AKA Wet Rope Confession (1979)
This is another example of Japan pushing the limits and boundaries farther than anyone else can. When it comes to exploitation, no one else seems to do it better. The story involves a young woman who joins a convent after being raped and having her husband wanting nothing to do with her.
Upon joining, she discovers that there are sick acts taking place there. There is a subplot where an injured Yakuza member is taken care of and ends up helping her escape a large ceremonial orgy where she was being used as the offering, dressed in a full lamb costume.
There is more than enough total insanity brewing in this drink to satisfy the sickest of perverts; it includes nudity, rape, masturbation with a loaf of bread, lesbianism, a priest watches most of the acts and then whips the women, various sexual encounters, a woman being bound to a cross and whipped, a mass orgy, and the girl being dressed in a full lamb costume. And when I mean full, you would think that she is an actual animal.
So if you are sick and depraved or want to be horrified, then this one is for you. It’s not as artistic and stylish as School of the Holy Beast, but it definitely pushes the limits.
11. The Other Hell AKA Guardian of Hell (1981)
“What happens when nuns become possessed by the devil?” . All sorts of insanity abounds in this Italian horror nunsploitation from director Bruno Mattei as a priest is sent to a nun’s convent in order to investigate some form of paranormal activity, only to discover murder. Is it the work of the devil or is there something else going on here?
There’s all sorts of crazy shit going on here; the weird 1970’s C.H.I.P.S music, a nun cutting out vaginas because they’re gateways to hell, a crazy nun cat, bleeding nuns, a nun dies from stigmata, a priest detective, killer dogs, boiling babies, a telekinetic child, and a bunch of mannequins. Mattei has pretty much done at least one of every type of exploitative film; he’s covered Nazis, spaghetti westerns, mondo shockumentaries, nuns, zombies, sword and sorcery, and sci-fi horror.
Check this out for the great story. Wait, What? No, check this out because it is crazy as all hell. It’s total low budget insanity from one of the great Italian exploitation directors.
12. Demonia (1990)
“No Evil Deed Goes Undone!” . A group of heretic nuns are brought back from the dead after 500 years when some archeologists perform a séance. One of the female team members has recurring dreams about the nuns, while the rest of her group gets decimated by the evil nuns.
An unusual version of nunsploitation with director Lucio Fulci’s gory zombified touches added to it. Fulci is best known for his series of zombie movies, as well as some other gruesome horror films that featured lots of gore and blood.
The same can be said for this movie as it is rather slow, with the most memorable scenes involving body parts being dismembered. This includes the nuns being nailed to crosses, a man getting a nail driven into his tongue, and another man being completely ripped apart.
This is probably more for true Fulci fans, or fans of nunsploitation that want to see a different take on it. Otherwise, you may find it rather slow.
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