Wednesday, February 2, 2011

WIP Wednesday: Interno di un Convento (Walerian Borowczyk, 1978)

Thus spake the Empress: "Women in prison films, which are the spiritual cousins of nunsploitation films, tend to offer more in terms of graphic violence, sex, and plot tension." With Behind Convent Walls, I can certainly agree violence- and plot-wise, but as far as sex is concerned we have a fairly dead heat.

This film has the bulk of the WIP features; the prison and convent serve much the same purpose. One is a place to put unwanted or unruly women, and the other is a prison. We like to think of convents as being either full of women who realized they were going to be spinsters at an early age, goody-two-shoes brides of Christ, or deeply religious women that cannot enter the priesthood because their church is stuck in the distant past. While much of these could be argued as realistic, in earlier times it was a whole other story. Got too many daughters? It's cheaper to make them nuns than marry them off. Is your daughter the village bicycle? Best get her locked up before she really shames you. Are you a widow? Get thee to a nunnery! See what I'm getting at?

So, in Behind Convent Walls we have a bunch of horny young women locked up together with very few penises to go around. There is Silva (Alex Partexano), dubbed "the meat man" by his holiness the Vicar of VHS. There is Rodrigo Landriani (Howard Ross), the ne'er-do-well nephew of the priest. There is said priest, Father Luigi (Mario Maranzana), the convent's confessor. And, last but not least, there is Jesus Christ; king of kings, lord of lords, spank bank material for all! It seems the only one not interested in biblical knowledge (IYKWIM) is the Mother Superior, Abbess Flavia Orsini (Gabriella Giacobbe). Instead, her interests lay in searching the young girls' rooms for any contraband, including but not limited to; mirrors, love letters, dirty pictures, and shall we say "wood carvings." She is the warden of the piece, and even carries a sword-cane. The rest of the standard roles tend to blur a bit. It is incredibly difficult for me to tell one pale woman in a nun's habit from another. Even when naked they still keep their headgear. If forced to give an answer, I believe Sister Martina (Loredana Martínez) and/or Sister Veronica (Marina Pierro) was the HBIC, and Sister Clara (Ligia Branice) the good girl. Basically, all the young nuns are interested in men, women, or religious icons, and need to get the Mother Superior out of the way. She hates everything fun, including music (granted, her hatred of music might be due to the naked frolicking it precipitated).

Ultimately the Mother Superior is done away with, by accident. One of the nuns (an aforementioned HBIC) drugs her with laudanum. While she is high as a kite all hell breaks loose; nun on nun action, nun on man action, nun on self action, and naked grape eating (seriously). Of course the Mother Superior dies of an overdose, and then the shit really hits the fan. Despite their disdain for their leader, they are senseless without her. Two commit suicide while the rest shriek in various states of undress. The good father has to put everything right, but it has all crumbled already. There is no happy ending here, though not a memorable sad ending. Ah well.

I shall forgo recommendation notes, as if you want to see this one you have likely made up your mind already.

Other, more reliable sources:
  • See the review of this film at Love Train for the Tenebrous Empire for a more expert opinion.
  • The Vicar of VHS and The Duke of DVD did a three part review of the film at Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies (starting here).
  • Entry at the IMDb.

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